Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Oyster Mushrooms on Rowan


I noticed back in January that one of the street trees in the village was sporting a fine crop of oyter mushrooms (Pleurotus sp.)


I tend to get rather confused by descriptions of the various Pleurotus species in my field guides. It never sounds like there's much to separate them.


I'm pretty sure I've never seen the Branched Oyster Pleurotus cornucopiae as that species has a distinctive – yup, you've guessed it: branched – growing habit.

But how to tell the difference between the other two: Oyster Mushroom P. ostreatus and Pale Oyster P. pulmonarius?


Over on the British Mycological Society Facebook Page, Andy Overall explained that, "P. ostreatus is highly variable but it is often a fleshy thing and more often around at this time of year. P. pulmonarius is in comparison a much less robust and less fleshy and almost always very pale." 

So Andy ID'd this specimen as Oyster Mushroom P. ostreatus.

My winter tree identification skills being what they are (i.e. very poor), I've had to wait until now to confirm what it was growing on.

 
Rowan Sorbus aucuparia. In leaf at last.

For the record
Date: 20/01/2018
Location: Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ214130

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Oh, Dacrymyces...

It's been bugging me that I haven't properly properly confirmed my record of Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus on that Big ol' Beech

I thought this would be easy because I'd just have to find some mature '3-septate' spores showing the cell walls separating the spore into 4 compartments (like I observed here).

Despite scanning through squashes for AGES, I haven't found any 3-septate spores. But I have found some interesting-looking bits and bobs. This figure, which I stumbled upon on ResearchGate has been very helpful in making sense of what I'm seeing.


Figure reproduced from Oberwinkler (2014) here. Life cycle of Dacrymyces stillatus. (a) Basidiocarps (b) Fructification with fragmenting hyphae (i). (c) Detail of hymenium and subhymenium. (d) Basidial ontogeny showing stages of nuclear divisions in basidia. (e) Basidiospores and spore germination. (f) Yeastlike budding of microconidia. (g) Spore germination with hyphae, illustrated from D. palmatus but also occurring in D. stillatus . (h) Fragmented hyphae producing microconidia. (i) Short-celled fragmentation of peripheral hyphae from anamorph fructification (b). Figures not to scale; originally from Oberwinkler (2012).
Basidiocarps (the fruiting bodies)

These are what I observed in the field.


Hymenium

This tangled, branching mass of hyphae matches nicely with the illustration of the hymenium. As far as I could tell, there were no clamp connections.

 
Basidia (the microscopic structures which bear the spores)

I've got basidia at various stages of maturity here.


This shows nicely a mature basidia with spores growing on the tips. At top left a larger spore has been cast off to begin a life of its own. I make it about 11.5 x 6.5 microns in size – smaller than D. stillatus. Perhaps it's still got some growing to do?


I'm not sure what I'm seeing here... Perhaps "nuclear divisions in basidia"?


Basidiospores

I could find very few spores in this collection. This one was starting to approach the dimensions of D. stillatus which the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide (Buczacki et al) give as 14 - 17 x 5 - 6 microns. Most were a bit smaller, around 11.5 microns in length.


I haven't been able to detect any septate structure to the spores – they look to just be filled with oil droplets – which I fear leaves things rather inconclusive as to the species identification.


For the record
Date: 11/03/2018
Location: The Big Beech, Rowland Wood, East Sussex
Grid reference: TQ514150

 

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Moments of pleasure

I was back at the Big Beech in Rowland Wood on Sunday. Not expecting to find much new.

The woodwarts, brackets and mushrooms emerging from this great hunk of dead wood mostly looked familiar, as I've devoted quite a bit of time to this old tree in the last couple of months. So I turned my attention to this pale fungus spreading over the trunk: filling the cracks (or perhaps causing the cracks?) in the bark.


It was one of the 'resupinate' fungi which lie flat, fixed to a substrate, with their fertile surface facing out.

Looking closely, I saw that it was beaded with droplets of red-amber liquid.


This must be an example of fungal guttation a process whereby fungi exude beads of moisture (one of my fellow fungus enthusiasts of the internet has written a wonderfully illustrated blog about it here).

I've seen photos of this sort of thing, but never observed it myself. It seems strange seeing these bright pigmented droplets emerging from such a non-descript creamy-white fungus. And somehow beautiful.

On the northern, more-sheltered side of the trunk I found more of this fungus growing in large patches.


Looking in my copy of 'The Resupinates of Hampshire' (Hugill & Lucas, 2017), I wondered if this might be one of the Schizopora species. But I can't for the life of me find any mention of Schizopora guttating.

There are two similar-looking Schizopora species in 'The Resupinates of Hampshire' which are apparently easy to separate on spore size:
  • Schizopora flavipora 4 - 4.5 x 2.5 - 3.5 microns
  • Schizopora paradoxa 6 - 6.5 x 3.5 - 4 microns

So I thought I'd have a go at some microscopy.


Comparing against photos on Malcolm Storey's bioimages.org.uk site (here) the spore shape looks about right for Schizopora.

But my measurements average out at 5.2 x 3.2 microns. That doesn't help!

I looked to see if I could find any other distinctive features and spotted this thing with a knob on the end, which I think is probably a 'capitate cystidia'.


And I found some encrusted -looking things. Not sure what. Hyphae?


So I think I'm going to need some help with this one...

UPDATE 15/03/2018 - thanks to a lot of help from the good people of Sussex Fungus Group I've made some progress with this one.

Nick Aplin reminded me that there is another species of Schizopora which is not that dissimilar to the ones I've mentioned above: S. radula. The Resupinates of Hampshire gives spore dimensions for this of 4 - 5 x 3 - 4 microns, which tallies with my measurements.

Martin Allison agreed that this definitely appears to be a Schizopora species, but further investigation would be required to pin it down to a particular species. He pointed out that Fungi of Switzerland, Volume 2 (Breitenbach and Kränzlin, 1986) gives the spore dimensions for S. paradoxa as 4.5-6 x 3-4 microns which also tallies with my measurements. So we can't rule out S. paradoxa, which is very common all year round.

Ted Tuddenham then very helpfully shared with me a copy of the descriptions S. paradoxa and S. radula from Poroid fungi of Europe (Ryvarden and Melo). These indicated that the main difference between the species is in the characteristics of the hyphal system: is it monomitic (having just one type of hyphae), or is it dimitic (having two types of hyphae).

We were getting into pretty heavy stuff here, so Ted also sent me an illustration showing the difference between monomitic, dimitic and trimitic hyphal systems.

Image reproduced from www.davidmoore.org.uk. Hyphal systems. See Pegler (Bull. BMS 7(suppl.), 1973). A, monomitic hyphal system, with thick-walled generative hyphae; B, dimitic hyphal system, with generative and ligative (binding) hyphae; C, dimitic hyphal system, with generative and skeletal hyphae; D, trimitic hyphal system, with generative, skeletal and ligative hyphae.
Time to have a go at some more microscopy.


I tentatively concluded that what I have here is a dimitic hyphal system, which Nick Aplin and Martin Allison were kind enough to confirm.

I think that gives me sufficient information to confirm my collection as Split Porecrust Schizopora paradoxa. Got there in the end!

I thought that was going to be my lot for this visit, until I spotted a small bracket growing on the southern side of the main trunk.


It was surprisingly squidgy...



... with ginger pores underneath.


I was completely stumped by this thing which seemed like a cross between a bracket fungus and a bolete until I came across a description of Cinnamon Bracket Hapalopilus nidulans.

As well as its white spore print (check), a key feature of this species is that it should turn purple or lilac when it comes into contact with ammonia or KOH. Let's try that shall we...

BOOM! 


Look at that! Wonderful!


Species list for the Big Beech

  1. Splitgill Schizophyllum commune (14/2/2016)
  2. Beech Woodwart Hypoxylon fragiforme (14/2/2016)
  3. Possible Cosmospora arxii (14/2/2016) - not confirmed
  4. Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella mucida (9/10/2016)
  5. Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus (11/12/2016)
  6. Beech Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides (11/12/2016) - not confirmed
  7. Bitter Oysterling Panellus stipticus (14/01/2018)
  8. Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea (14/01/2018)
  9. Jackrogersella cohaerens (14/01/2018)
  10. Turkeytail Trametes versicolor (14/01/2018)
  11. Birch Mazegill Lenzites betulinus (14/01/2018)
  12. Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum (14/01/2018)
  13. Clitopilus hobsonii (14/01/2018)
  14. Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata (14/01/2018)
  15. Smoky Bracket Bjerkandera adusta (14/01/2018)
  16. Ganoderma sp. (14/01/2018)
  17. Winter Polypore Polyporus brumalis (11/02/2018)
  18. Exidia plana (11/02/2018)
  19. Possible Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus - not confirmed (11/02/2018)
  20. Possible Leafy Brain Tremella foliacea - not confirmed (11/02/2018)
  21. Crimped Gill Plicatura crispa (11/02/2018)
  22. Split Porecrust Schizopora paradoxa (11/03/2018) - confirmed 15/03/2017
  23. Cinnamon Bracket Hapalopilus nidulans (11/03/2018)
For the record
Date: 11/03/2018
Location: The Big Beech, Rowland Wood, East Sussex
Grid reference: TQ514150

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Back at the fallen Beech

Earlier this month, on 11 February, I returned to a favourite spot: the fallen Beech in Rowland Wood.


It had been four weeks since my previous visit when I'd recorded 13 species of fungi growing on this huge hunk of dead wood. A pretty good haul, I thought. So I wasn't expecting to find much more this time.


But as I squelched my way along the woodland rides towards to the Big Beech, I realised that conditions had changed quite a bit since my last visit. The wood was wetter. Much wetter.

These conditions had brought out some jelly fungus – fruiting on the sunny southern side of the main trunk, now denuded of its bark.



See how it glistens in the low winter sun. What a beauty!



Given the tightly-lobed, brain-like form of this black-brown jelly, I reckon it's Exidia plana (related to Witches Butter E. glandulosa).

On one of the cut boughs, lying in a sheltered spot under the main trunk, I saw a smattering of tiny yellow fruit bodies. 


I'd meant to check if this was Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus but it's been a busy month and my specimens dried out before I had a chance to do the microscopy.

On the same log, towards the back of the photo above, I spotted a different kind of jelly fungus.


I wonder if this is a tiny patch of Leafy Brain Tremella foliacea? I don't think it's a species I've come across before.

So that's three new species for the Big Beech list.

Turning my attention to the northern side of the trunk, I was keen to solve the mystery of the button-shaped mushrooms I'd found popping up the month before.


They were looking a bit the worse for wear, after four weeks of winter weather, but still surprisingly in tact. Underneath the caps, where they hadn't been eaten by molluscs, these mushrooms had pores
– fairly large pores.

 
I reckon that makes these Winter Polypore Polyporus brumalis.

I wasn't expecting to get any more species from the Big Beech that day, so when Michael pointed out this crust fungus growing on one of the cut boughs I rather casually dismissed it as "probably Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum". Boring.


It wasn't until I sat down next to it with my flask of tea that I realised it was something quite different. Not boring! 

Unless I am very much mistaken, this was Crimped Gill Plicatura crispa, making itself at home. 



The books say this species has a northern distribution, but we've come across it a few times of Sussex Fungus Group forays, so I think it must be establishing itself down south.

I think that brings my complete Big Beech list to around 21 species, albeit a few are not confirmed.
  1. Splitgill Schizophyllum commune (14/2/2016)
  2. Beech Woodwart Hypoxylon fragiforme (14/2/2016)
  3. Possible Cosmospora arxii (14/2/2016) - not confirmed
  4. Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella mucida (9/10/2016)
  5. Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus (11/12/2016)
  6. Beech Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides (11/12/2016) - not confirmed
  7. Bitter Oysterling Panellus stipticus (14/01/2018)
  8. Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea (14/01/2018)
  9. Jackrogersella cohaerens (14/01/2018)
  10. Turkeytail Trametes versicolor (14/01/2018)
  11. Birch Mazegill Lenzites betulinus (14/01/2018)
  12. Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum (14/01/2018)
  13. Clitopilus hobsonii (14/01/2018)
  14. Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata (14/01/2018)
  15. Smoky Bracket Bjerkandera adusta (14/01/2018)
  16. Ganoderma sp. (14/01/2018)
  17. Winter Polypore Polyporus brumalis (11/02/2018)
  18. Exidia plana (11/02/2018)
  19. Possible Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus - not confirmed (11/02/2018)
  20. Possible Leafy Brain Tremella foliacea - not confirmed (11/02/2018)
  21. Crimped Gill Plicatura crispa (11/02/2018)
Looking forward to seeing what else makes itself at home here!

For the record
Date: 11/02/2018
Location: The Big Beech, Rowland Wood, East Sussex
Grid reference: TQ514150

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Perfect weather for funguses


I headed out to Horton Wood in the drizzle yesterday: perfect weather for funguses!

On a fallen trunk, I found masses of this: an Ascocoryne species in its asexual 'anamorphic' stage.


I found a 'Key to Ascocoryne' on AscoFrance.com, here (Baral 2000) but it seems to require observation of the ascospores which I think are only present in the sexual 'teleomorphic' stage.

I've had a quick look under the microscope and all I can see is a tangled mass of hyphae and these tiny sausage-shaped things which I think are conidia.



They look right for A. sarcoides, based on images on the first-nature.com website (here) but I don't know if that's enough to confirm an identification.

UPDATE 10/02/2018 - Feedback from Nick Aplin over on the Sussex Fungus Group Yahoo! discussion group: "Yeah, that's the anamorph of Ascocoryne sarcoides. A. cylichnium doesn't have a (known) anamorph, A.inflata has a pale bubbly looking thing and A.solitaria has white blobs with dark stalks. They're all ID-able in the field providing the material is good enough. Conversely, the teleomorphs aren't necessarily ID-able in the field." 

Nice to be able to confirm this one as Purple Jellydisc A. sarcoides.

Pretty sure these are young fruit-bodies of Turkeytail Trametes versicolor; the pores underneath looked right for that species.



Fresh young Jelly Ear Auricularia auricula-judae were fruiting in several places; not just on Elder but also on other fallen deadwood (Ash?).


I spotted my first Spring Hazelcup Encoelia furfuracea of the year, growing on hazel and wedged up against an ivy stem; it was growing in at least three separate places along the length of the ivy, making me wonder what the connection is here between the fungus the ivy. Perhaps it just likes the sheltered microclimate?


I went on to find Spring Hazelcup Encoelia furfuracea on a few different stands of hazel around Horton Wood; as I did last year. I have submitted record details to the FRDBI so I can continue to keep track of the Small Dole Spring Hazelcup Encoelia furfuracea population.

I found a couple jelly fungi which I'm assuming are Exidia species. The first of which I think may be Exidia plana?

Growing on trunk of living hazel.
Growing on fallen branch.
Following 'A Key to British Exidia Species' (Roberts 2001) I think the bottom one is probably Exidia thuretiana, as I can see no mineral inclusions. I thought I'd check this by looking at the basidia which should be 'not stalked' (separating it from Exidia nucleata in which the basidia are 'distinctly stalked'). But I can't for the life of me find any illustrations which show what these stalks if they were there would look like.

Anyway, here's what the basidia look like. Do they look stalked to you?


And here are some other bits. I think the sausage-shaped things are spores.


UPDATE 10/02/2018 - Managed to get a second opinion on whether these basidia are 'stalked'. Nick Aplin has responded to say, "I think you have Exidia nucleata. For me the basidia do have stalks (with clamps at the base of the stalk not at the base of the basidium) ... I've stuck some arrows and notes to your images which might (?) make things clearer. I reckon E.thuretiana tends to be a bit more cloudy and resupinate-like, but others might disagree. Shame there's not much reliable info on these species on the web."

Thanks to Nick Aplin for the annotations. I can totally see the clamp!
I also came across this: Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus.


Having spent ages last weekend trying to find some D. stillatus spores, without success (here), I reluctantly tried again with this specimen. This time I spotted the spores instantly and found they show the four compartments separated by cell walls ('septa') nicely. These spores are also the right size for D. stillatus, being around 17 microns long by 6 microns wide. So I think I can confirm the ID this time.



And having spent quite a bit of time recently looking at the different Yellow Brain Tremella species, I'd be inclined to call this one Tremella mesenterica.


There were some interesting resupinate fungi around too.

I think this is Bleeding Oak Crust Stereum rugosum on the fallen oak.


In these damp conditions you can see how, when you cut it, it bleeds.


I found lots of Silverleaf Fungus Chondrostereum purpureum on an old willow.


This on a fallen oak branch (?) looked very interesting, but fairly well rotted, so I didn't take a specimen. It came away from the substrate in patches when touched.


I'd be interested to know if anyone's got any ideas on what this could be.


References

Baral, H.O., 2000, 'Key to Ascocoryne', www.ascofrance.com, URL: www.ascofrance.com/uploads/forum_file/5598.doc

Roberts, P., 2001, 'A Key to the British Exidia Species', Field Mycology, Vol 2(4), URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1468-1641(10)60535-X

For the record
Date: 20/01/2018
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)