Monday, 28 August 2017

Inkcap week in Small Dole

Inkcaps started popping up in various places around the village last week.

Walking to work on Tuesday, I came across this Shaggy Inkcap Coprinus comatus, growing on the road verge. A single drop of ink hung from the base of the cap.


Over the course of two days, as I walked to work and home again, I observed it mature and deliquesce.


By the time I was heading home on Wednesday, it had transformed itself into a just an inky black button atop its slender, grubby stipe.

What a difference a day makes (or 33 hours, to be precise).

Not far away, at the end of New Hall Lane, I found another patch of inkcaps. These too were growing on a grassy verge, beside the footpath.


They were already on their way over by the time I found them.


On a couple of the fruit bodies the centre of the cap was covered in small, flat scales.


Nestled amongst the grass, I found a younger clump. Underneath the mousy-brown and faintly striate cap, the gills were still a grey-ish white – not yet turned to ink.


These mushrooms look like a good match for Common Inkcap Coprinopsis atramentaria.

At Woods Mill, there was also a flush of Glistening Inkcap Coprinellus micaceus. And, amongst this fine display of Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare by Nightingale Bridge, I thought I spotted a few Fairy Inkcaps Coprinellus disseminatus, hiding at the back. Although I didn't fancy fighting my way into the bramble thicket to confirm.


For the record
Date: Tuesday 22 August 2017 - Wednesday 23 August 2017
Location: Various spots around Small Dole
Grid reference: C. comatus TQ214134; C. atramentaria TQ208132




Tuesday, 22 August 2017

On the Gruffalo trail

I met up with friends on Sunday at Alice Holt. Friends with toddlers. So our explorations of the forest were mainly focussed on finding the Gruffalo.

But as we made our way along the Gruffalo trail, I did also spot these shadowy creatures, poking up through the leaf litter.


I must be getting a bit better at identifying fungi because, although I've never seen this species before, my first thought was that they must be from the genus Helvella - one of the Saddle fungi.

Having consulted with my field guides, I make this Elfin Saddle Helvella lacunosa. A common species which grows on soil in broad-leaved, coniferous or mixed woodland. Here it was growing in a pine plantation.

That stipe is just fabulous.

For the record
Date: 20/08/2017
Location: Gruffalo Trail, Alice Holt Forest
Grid reference: SU8141

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Horton Wood again


I saw this big, boxy mushroom in Horton Wood on Saturday. There were a few of them scattered around.

I broke off a section of the cap and crushed it between my fingers, to see if I could detect any smell. I thought I got a hint of marzipan; but it was quite faint.


I noticed that the fragments of cap cuticle I was left with had turned a bright acid yellow. You can see in this photograph that the stipe has also discoloured slightly yellow where I've scraped it. The mushroom has a partial veil; and the young gills are pale.

I think these features – especially the boxy (almost trapezoidal) shape and the yellow staining – make this mushroom the Yellow Stainer Agaricus xanthodermus.

UPDATE 23/08/2017 - I read somewhere, after writing this blog, that a distinctive feature of the Yellow Stainer Agaricus xanthodermus is yellow staining in the very base of the stipe, when it's sliced open. Like this:

IMAGE  reproduced from NatureSpot. © Lostash
I thought I'd better go back and see if the mushroom I'd found would show this yellow staining.


It didn't.


I tried another one, just in case the first one was a dud.


That one didn't stain yellow either.

I finally had to admit: this wasn't a Yellow Stainer Agaricus xanthodermus. I was stuck.

I posted a few photos on Twitter to get another opinion.
Andy Overall (@fungitobewith) sent me some very helpful replies with a couple of possibilities: Agaricus macrocarpus or A. silvicola. Both of which would fit with the features I'd observed and have a faint 'almonds' odour. Andy thought A. silvicola more likely; but microscopy would be needed to be sure.

Unfortunately other commitments called on my time that week, and I never did get back to Horton Wood to collect some material I could examine under the microscope. So these mushrooms never got a name.  

My friend Sasha spotted this grey mushroom growing on a rotting log.


 
The grey cap leads me to Willow Shield Pluteus salicinus. The book says that its 'free, crowded' gills are 'white, maturing pink'; which looks about right.

There were also masses of Russulas around, but I'm still ignoring those.

For the record
Date: 12/08/2017
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Near Spithandle Lane




We finished work early on Tuesday to fit in a fungi walk before dinner and drove out, past Beggars Bush, to Spithandle Lane.

Sprouting up from the edge of Spithandle Lane we spotted this. Ridiculous!


And nearby, another fruit body which had spread its gills and now stood proud, above the woodland floor.


These look like the Parasol Macrolepiota procera; the brown scales on the stem, giving it a snakeskin-like appearance, are a key characteristic.

Nearby, this mushroom was also hard to miss.


Underneath the cap, a partial veil entirely covered its gills.


It looked so utterly perfect, I was reluctant to start poking at it to discover more of its features. Perhaps it's a beautiful white Death Cap Amanita phalloides var. alba. I should have at least sniffed it, to see if I could detect its sweet deathly scent.

Our route took us south, through mixed woodland, and I was soon overwhelmed by the number of fungi fruiting here.

Little Brown Jobs, Russulas and most of the samey-looking Boletes were brazenly ignored; while I scanned the woodland floor for fruit bodies I might have a cat-in-hell's chance of identifying.

Aha! One I think I know: Oak Curtain Crust Hymenochaete rubiginosa.


And one I definitely don't know. But which was too pretty to pass by. 



I noticed fragments of... veil (?) hanging from the edges of the rounded white cap.



Not sure what genus I'm in with this one: Psathyrella? Perhaps a young Pale Brittlestem Psathyrella candolleana. I moved on.

I found this mushroom growing amongst the leaflitter: Amethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystina.


I wondered if this emerging mushroom might be a Tawny Grisette Amanita fulva. A volva 'flushed with cap colour' is characteristic of this species.


On a rotting log I spotted these flat fruit bodies.


Underneath: pores.


It looks like there are also the remains here of a dead and blackened stipe, perhaps of a previous generation of these fruit bodies. I wonder if these are young specimens of the Blackfoot Polypore Polyporus leptocephalus.

On the same rotting log: YELLOW BLOBS!


I do love a good blob. I felt this must be slime mould plasmodium, for sure, so I took a sample home to see what it would do.

By the time I got home from work the next day, it looked like this:

Photographed down stereomicroscope.

Reddish-brown tubes on stalks. Amazing! Wish I'd seen this in progress.

I believe that makes this one of the Stemonitis species of slime mould. There are a couple which Bruce Ing, in his book 'The Myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland', describes as having yellow plasmodium and occuring on rotten wood:
  • Stemonitis axifera
  • Stemonitis flavogenita 
They're quite similar! S. flavogenita is reported to have a 'zigzag' at the top of the column ('columella') which supports the spore-bearing structure ('sporangium'). I couldn't see anything like that. But other features, such as the blunt sporangia, do seem to point to S. flavogenita. I think I'll have to pass on this one.

UPDATE 12/08/2017: I've received some very helpful advice from Malcolm Storey, over on the British Slime Moulds (Myxogastria) Facebook Page, on how to check for the presence of that 'zigzag' which is indicative of S. flavogenita. He advises blowing all the spores off and then getting one or two sporangia mounted in water (with a drop of detergent), under a compound microscope. You might need to keep tapping and rinsing it to wash all the spores off.

If it's there, the kink should look like this: 

Copyright © Malcolm Storey, 2002, www.bioimages.org.uk. Some rights reserved.
I had a go at doing this but it seems my specimen is unfortunately now too mangled to determine if it is or isn't kinked.

Further on, where the path took us along the edge of a pasture, with a few oaks growing along the edges, I spotted what I presume is another Inocybe.


A quick up-stipe shot revealed pale-edged gills, like I'd observed on that Inocybe in Horton Wood the other day.


As I got stuck trying to identify the last Inocybe I collected, I thought I wouldn't force myself to attempt another, just yet. So I left this mushroom as I found it.

Michael spotted the large cap of an old Amanita collapsed at the bottom of an oak tree. I think this may be a Blusher Amanita rubescens, but I wouldn't like to say for sure without seeing more of it.


Entering an area of Birch woodland, we were suddenly surrounded by earthballs Scleroderma sp. I'm not 100 % confident identifying earthballs, but I think those coarse scales on the surface might make these Common Earthball Scleroderma citrinum.


A little further on, I noticed this streak of mushrooms which stretched for about a metre to that tree in the background, and then continue for another metre or two on the other side.


I'd decided to ignore Little Brown Jobs but these mushrooms had such a distinctive growing habit, I thought it would be worth stopping for a look.

All along the line, the mushrooms were growing in tightly packed clusters; the long, downy stems actually fused together, up to perhaps a quarter of their length:


Having flicked through the my field guides, I'm going to hazard a guess at Clustered Toughshank Gymnopus (=Collybia) confluens; the field characteristics match the descriptions very well. If I'm right, they should provide a white spore print I'll see if I can get one (although the mushrooms are now rather dried out).

UPDATE 14/08/2017: Managed to get a spore print from a couple of those clustered mushrooms. Definitely white!


Moving on, into an area of more mixed woodland, a definite Tawny Grisette Amanita fulva.


It was growing next to these mousy-brown mushroom, which had me stumped at first.


But then I saw that they were growing from a chunk of rotting dead wood.


At this point, I decided they were Deer Shield Pluteus cervinus. However, as I am writing this, I notice that the gills in the photograph above are not 'crowded', as you'd expect in P. cervinus. So perhaps I got this one wrong.

We then came across these gorgeous Amanitas growing at the edge of a plantation woodland, with cypresses.


I think this is another example of The Blusher Amanita rubescens.




There were quite a few around. In this specimen, the flawless partial veil still clung to the edges of the cap.


What a beauty.


Moving quickly on, because by this time dinner was calling... Yellow Stagshorn Calocera viscosa. Looking GREAT.


Chanterelle Cantharellus cibarius.


These orange mushrooms were growing out of a pile of rotting logs.


Orange gills makes these one of the Rustgills gymnopilus sp. I think.


I'm going to put my money on Common Rustgill Gymnopilus penetrans.

I saw some more of these a common sight on my forays this summer: Spindleshank Gymnopus fusipes.


And finally, I should mention the couple of boletes which I decided not to ignore.

There was this one, which I got very excited about.


Which ended up being Chestnut Bolete Gyroporus castaneus, as I established in an earlier blog post.

Then there was this dark, suede-topped beauty growing at the edge of a conifer plantation, which my photos really don't do justice to.






So, what can we see here.
  • Cap surface: dry and velvety, almost suede-like.
  • Stem: smooth; base colour is yellow, with red dots and longditudinal striations.
  • Tubes: when split tear in half lengthways
This takes us to the Xerocomoid boletes in Geoffrey Kibby's 'British Boletes' (2016).

I think that key takes me to Red Cracking Bolete Xerocomellus chrysenteron. The olive-brown spore print would support that identification.

I had the impression that the fruit body I collected was a young specimen (which got knocked around a bit before I had a chance to take the photos above); which might explain why it doesn't show any cracking.

THE END! Ah, I thought I'd been fairly selective in which fungi I stopped to investigate on our Tuesday night foray. It's still taken me most of the week to puzzle my way through them. Now, what will this weekend bring?

For the record
Date: 08/08/2017
Location: Near Spithandle Lane, Ashurst, West Sussex
Grid reference:  TQ11S