Saturday, 30 September 2017

Mushroom Madness at Tilgate Park

There were... So. Many. Mushrooms. At Tilgate Park today.

I was there on a foray with Kevin Lerwill from the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership and Nick Aplin of the Sussex Fungus Group. You could hardly take a step without finding something new for the list. I spent most of the foray either taking photographs or scribbling furiously, in an effort to remember what we'd seen.

I won't attempt to list everything we saw, as a full species list will be circulated on the Sussex Fungus Group Yahoo! group in due course; but these were a few of the highlights for me...

On a decaying cypress stump, by the entrance to the walled garden, we came across these mushrooms.

They were nice-looking things, with a purplish hue to the young cap and a distinctive velvet-y stem. I couldn't place them at all, but Nick tentatively identified them as Gymnopus obscuroides (to be confirmed). It looks like this species was only fairly recently described, from collections in Southern England, and there's a paper on it here.

Nearby, growing among the grass, we came across our first Lepiota species – one of the Dapperlings. I took this, and a couple of other, very-similar-looking Lepiota, as specimens so I'll try and key them out later.

I was pleased I managed to recognise this next species, having come across it a few times on previous forays: Rooting Shank Xerula radicata. The long stem and slightly wrinkled cap gave it away. Looking closely, I noticed faint striations running in an almost perfect spiral up the stem: a really beautiful feature, on an otherwise quite underwhelming mushroom!

The Amethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystina was putting on a really stunning show. There were loads of them, in perfect condition.

I was pleased to finally meet The Miller Clitopilus prunulus, with its distinctive odour which smelled just like pancake batter to me.

We soon came across another mushroom with a distinctive smell: the Coconut Milkcap Lactarius glyciosmus. The odour seemed rather faint to me, but I think I did get a slight whiff of coconut.

I'm still mainly ignoring Cortinarius species, unless they've got some really striking feature. But this one reeled me in: the Frosty Webcap Cortinarius hemitrichus

There is another similar-looking species, the Pelargonium Webcap Cortinarius flexipes, which smells strongly like pelargoniums. The mushrooms we found didn't smell of much.

This slightly odd-looking thing is a Lilac Fibrecap Inocybe geophylla var. lilacina.

The mushrooms were coming thick and fast as we walked through the parkland. Here we have a spectacular crop of Shaggy Scalycap Pholiota squarrosa.

These Larch Bolete Suillus grevillei, growing under Larch, were also rather lovely. And very slimy.

This freakish yellow blob is Dyers Mazegill Phaeolus schweinitzii...

... as is this, if you can believe it.

I was slightly underwhelmed when I first came across Dyers Mazegill Phaeolus schweinitzii at Tilgate Park last year (in the same spot). But these pair are seriously impressive.

At the base of the dead trunk where the Dyers Mazegill Phaeolus schweinitzii was growing, we found this clump of Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius, just going over.

We were treated to even more spectacular autumn colour with this Orange Peel Fungus Aleuria aurantia. It was so orange!

Then, somewhat less spectacular, but one I feel like I should remember because it's very common: Common Rustgill Gymnopilus penetrans.

Moving on, under the boughs of an old oak tree, we came across this purplish Cortinarius.

Nick identified this as Bruising Webcap Cortinarius purpurascens; a species he's found here before. Surprisingly, we came across this species again, as we moved underneath one of the Beech trees. It is mycorrhizal with oak though, so we assumed it was still associated with the roots of the oak, where they'd spread underground.

I think this next one is a new genus for me: a Hebeloma.

I know, it doesn't look like much. But it's worth looking at the gills which glisten with watery droplets. You can just about make out that some of the droplets are turning brown. This is a key feature of Poisonpie Hebeloma crustuliniforme.

In another new genus for me, Nick Aplin identified these mushrooms as Clustered Domecap Lyophyllum decastes. A relative of the Japanese Shimeji mushrooms which you see in posh supermarkets sometimes.

Moving into a heathy area, with pines, Nick introduced us to Sprucecone Cap Strobilurus esculentus, growing out of fallen spruce cones.

There was a good crop of Trumpet Chanterelle Cantharellus tubaeformis under the trees. We also found a Rollrim Paxillus species on the heath which, after receiving a tip from Lukas Large last week that a Paxillus growing on heath could be Paxillus cuprinus, I'll try and take a look at under the microscope. I didn't get a photo as it didn't look very interesting.

Besides, I was far too distracted by this gorgeous Greenfoot Fibrecap Inocybe calamistrata. Growing not far from where we found it last year.

Look at it! There's just so much going on with this mushroom.

Also around here we came across a few Bovine Boletes Suillus bovinus...

... Together with Rosy Spike Gomphidius roseus, which is thought to be parasitic on the Bovine Bolete Suillus bovinus. (There's more about this on the first-nature website, here.)

Among the pines, we came across this lovely velvety and squidgy bracket: Benzoin Bracket Ischnoderma benzoinum. Another new species for me.

And as we turned to head back to the car park, we passed this wonderful patch of rosey-pink mushrooms.

Nick was inclined to call these Mycena pura. I am still very confused about where to draw the line between M. pura and M. rosea.

There was still time for a few interesting finds on the way back to the car park.

Smoky Bracket Bjerkandera adusta.

And Lumpy Bracket Trametes gibbosa.

And a grey Knight Tricholoma sp. which has come home with me, so I'll have to see if I can put a species name to it.

Last – and least in size – we came across a slime mould growing on a rotting tree stump. Only about 1 mm tall, but pictured here under the stereomicroscope. The stalks are covered by a silvery sheath which Bruce Ing has described as looking like 'silk stockings', which makes this Stemonitopsis typhina.

For the record
Date: 30/09/2017
Location: Tilgate Park

All records to be submitted by Nick Aplin, Sussex Fungus Group

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Return to The Mens

The sun may have been shining on Sussex on Sunday, but not where I was! Because I'd decided to head into the deep dark woods of The Mens with the West Weald Fungus Recording Group (WWFRG).

The Mens is a regular survey site for the WWFRG and I joined them here last October, so I was interested to see what we'd find this time: same again, or different?

Led by our foray leader, Mike Waterman, we ventured into the woods. Hoping we'd be able to find out way out again...

These baby Stump Puffball Lycoperdon pyriforme were the first to greet us as we stepped into the woods. Little cuties!

And this crop of elfcups was a nice find. It's common to come across this fungus living in logs and branches on the woodland floor instantly recognisable by the green staining effect that the mycelium brings about in the wood. But you don't often see the fruit bodies.

I'd always called these "Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens"; but this is one of those situations where, as you delve deeper into mycology, you realise it's not quite as simple as that. There are actually two species of Chlorociboria which look pretty much identical in the field. The other species is Chlorociboria aeruginosa (even the names are almost identical). The only way to tell them apart with confidence is to look at them down a microscope and examine the spores.

It turns out the spores are actually really hard to see. But I've had a go.

Mounted in water and stained with Lactophenol Cotton Blue. 1000x magnification.
Mounted in Melzers Reagent. 1000x magnification.

If those tiny sausage-shaped things I'm looking at are indeed spores, then I make them about 7 or 8 microns long. The dark spots on the spores in the top photo must be oil droplets. The longer club-shaped things in the bottom photo are 'asci' (long thin bags which hold the developing spores).

That would make this Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens.

We soon started to notice little tufts of coral-like fungus, rising up from the leaf litter. One of the Corals a Ramaria species. The hyphae, below this clump, appeared to be rooted to a substrate of old Beech husks.

Jens Petersen has published a key to the Ramaria which is available online (here). There are lots of different species!

I've got to look at the spores first, to see if they are ornamented.

Spores, heated in Lactophenol Cotton Blue and mounted in water. 1000x magnification.
These spores look smooth to me; I can't actually make out any ornamentation at all. But that leaves me rather stuck, as I don't think I can get to a very sensible result if I go with "smooth spores". Might have to give up on the key.

Given its very upright growing habit, I think I'm probably safe calling this one Upright Coral Ramaria stricta which Geoffrey Kibby describes as "undoubtedly our commonest species of Ramaria".

These were a treat to find:

Looking in Geoffrey Kibby's 'Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe Vol. 1', these look like a good match for Horn of Plenty Craterellus cornucopioides. Although not quite as dark as I'd expect them to be.

We soon came across other patches of fruit bodies which were similar but not quite the same.

These fruit bodies were less deeply funnel shaped with a solid (not hollow) stem. And the upper surface has a minutely spikey look to it (just visible in the bottom photo, below).

The underside is fairly smooth; it doesn't show the decurrent, ridged hymenium that you'd expect to see in Craterellus cinereus. Looking at the species described in 'Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe Vol. 1', it seems most similar to Craterellus sinuosus; although the margin is not particularly lobed.

Moving a little further on, we came across yet more Craterellus.

Some of these were positively frilly.

I think I shall keep these specimens to investigate at my leisure. 

And in addition to those grey-brown Craterellus, we also found a patch of yellow ones.

Here's what one of them looks like up close.

That hole in the centre of the cap is the end of a hollow tube which runs all the way down the centre of the stem. These mushrooms seem like a dead cert for the Trumpet Chanterelle Cantharellus tubaeformis.

It seemed to be chanterelle central in The Mens.

After last week's encounter with Cortinarius semisanguineus at Selwyn's Wood, I had the excitement of meeting Cortinarius sanguineus, the Bloodred Webcap at The Mens. What a stunner!

I was also very taken with this patch of Jellybaby Leotia lubrica.

Dick Alder introduced me to this bracket fungus, Laxitextum bicolor, which is apparently a recent coloniser in these parts.

Ever since I read Geoffrey Kibby's article on 'Mycena rosea and related species' in the last edition of Field Mycology, I've been keeping my eye out for chunky pink Mycenas. So I was very happy to come across this little gang!

I detected a strong radish-y smell, and the stem looked to me to be slightly club-shaped ('clavate') at the base.

So I'm inclined to call this one Mycena rosea. But am very open to being corrected!

Nearby, a Saffrondrop Bonnet Mycena crocata was providing the perfect substrate for Bonnet Mould Spinellus fusiger. I've been wanting to see this, so was very pleased to find it in its prime. Reading the description on, it doesn't seem like this could be confused with other species.

Growing on a well-rotted fallen tree trunk, we came across a crop of Galerinas. There are lots of Galerina species that look very similar, so I should probably get these under the microscope at some point.

(I've bought a dehydrating machine, so I can look at these things at my leisure, and not in a crazy race against time – before they go mouldy...)

I was also interested to see this very wrinkly-capped mushroom, growing on dead wood.

Dick Alder identified this as Wrinkled Shield Pluteus phlebophorus. The Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide by Buczacki et al describes it as "uncommon". One to remember!

There was this nice-looking Buttercap Rhodocollybia butyracea.

And finally, tucked away inside this hollow Beech tree...

... a streak of bright white mushrooms.

These were identified (not by me! I didn't have a clue what they were) as Mealy Oyster Ossicaulis lignatilis.

All in all, a very different collection of fungi compared to what we came across last year.

For the record
Date: 24/09/2017
Location: The Mens

All records to be submitted through the West Weald Fungus Recording Group