Saturday, 1 September 2018

Woods Mill Bioblitz: the main event

I was back at Sussex Wildlife Trust's Woods Mill reserve today for the #WoodsMill50 Bioblitz where I'd volunteered to lead an impromptu fungus foray in Hoe Wood (the private part, as opposed to the public part where I was yesterday).

I discovered it's really hard to walk and talk and record fungi at the same time, so I've had to piece this list together from what I can remember, and the bits of fungus I accumulated as we went round.

The numbers follow on from the list I started yesterday.

Spindleshank Gymnopus fusipes

We saw hundreds of these, growing in even greater profusion than I remember seeing in previous years (photos here).

Blackedge Bonnet Mycena pelianthina (???)

We came across more of these mushrooms which I first encountered yesterday (photo here). The dark edge to the gill is really quite attractive when you catch it in the right light.

We had a big radish fan with us who confirmed these mushrooms did smell like radishes.

23. Deer Shield Pluteus cervinus

Saw quite a few of these, with their white 'free' gills, growing on the decaying logs which are strewn around the wood.

24. Rooting Shank Xerula radicata

This looked superficially similar to the Deer Shield P. cervinus that we'd just seen. But the slimy wrinkled cap and tall stature looked good for Rooting Shank Xerula radicata.

25. Hazel Woodwart Hypoxylon fuscum

Lois from the bioblitz team pointed out a black wart-like fungus growing on hazel branches. I'm reasonably confident it would have been H. fuscum but there are a few different woodwarts which can occur on hazel...

- Unidentified orange slime mould

We came across a fabulous orange slime mould, growing gregariously on a bit of rotting wood. Something like Trichia decipiens, but identifying these is tricky.

- Green or Turquoise Elfcup Chlorociboria sp.

Chunks of green-stained wood gave away the presence of a Chlorociboria species, but we unfortunately didn't find any fruiting bodies which would have enabled us to get a positive identification. My guess would be it's probably Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens because that's what I normally find around these parts.

26. Unidentified Funnel mushroom - Clitocybe sp. Probably Common Funnel Clitocybe gibba

This was quite a dainty thing, with a pinky-beige cap and elegant 'decurrent' gills.

The Funnels Clitocybe are a group I'm not particularly familiar with. I'll see if I can get an ID on this one by looking at its microscopic features.

UPDATE 3/9/2018
Martin Allison, County Recorder for Basidiomycetes, has suggested this looks like Common Funnel Clitocybe gibba.

27. Glue Crust Hymenochaete corrugata

We saw lots of evidence of Glue Crust H. corrugata glueing hazel sticks together an ingenious mechanism for traversing the canopy. I've written about this species before, here.

28. Twig Parachute Marasmius ramealis

We saw a mass of tiny, squat beige mushrooms growing on the end of a small branch, which I think were probably Twig Parachute M. ramealis. I didn't get a specimen because they were being attacked by some kind of white mold.

29. Collared Parachute Marasmius rotula

This was another tiny little thing, but with a long horse-hair-like stem.

The gills of this species are attached to a little collar which goes around the stem. This is quite difficult to see in dried up old specimens like this, so I had a quick look under the stereomicroscope to make sure I was on the right track with this one.

I have heard that another feature of Marasmius mushrooms is that they can dry out like this, and then later revive themselves if moistened. I've popped these two in a margarine tub with a drop of water, to see if I can witness this miraculous transformation.

UPDATE 2/9/2018 - And, lo! It did perk up again.

- Unidentified small grey Pluteus

Think I might give up on this one. It's looking a bit past it.

- Another one of those tricky boletes!

I think it might be another of those Xerocomus ones that I saw yesterday, but it's gone a bit slimy and smelly - don't fancy inspecting it too closely.

30. Chestnut Bolete Gyroporus castaneus

Many thanks to Diane Cavallero and Geoffrey Kibby, over on the British Mycological Society Facebook page, for their help putting a name to this one. I got stuck thinking it was a Boletus, because of the white pores, and had forgotten about the Gyroporus species. It's a gorgeous mushroom.

The firm, brittle flesh is a particular feature of this genus - as evidenced by the stem on the right which snapped clean off when I tried to squeeze it into my collecting box.

 31. Postia sp. - maybe Bitter Bracket Postia stiptica

- Blushing Bracket Daedaleopsis confragosa


I got a few more species in the other part of Hoe Wood...

32. Dryad's Saddle Polyporus squamosus - well past its best!

I saw this fruiting on the same tree back in 2016 (photo here). Funny to think it's been living there, out of sight, all that time.

33. Tan Ear Otidea alutacea (?)

Got a specimen, so will have a go at these later if someone can give me some pointers...?

UPDATE 3/9/2018
Nick Aplin's been in touch to say, "I think the cup fungus is Otidia alutacea... The paraphyses should be hooked, asci should have no iodine reaction and spores should have two droplets."

400x magnification. Mounted in water.
400x magnification. In Melzer's reagent.
On that basis, these images are looking good for Otidea alutacea.

I should have probably left it at that, and not googled "Otidea alutacea". Because now I've found this monograph on the Otidea (Olariaga et al, 2015) which suggests that O. alutacea is actually a species complex, and should perhaps be separated into several different species, based on phylogenetic groupings ('clades'), which may perhaps show different ranges in spore sizes.

This has prompted me to measure the spores in my collection. They are actually just off the bottom end of the spore sizes Olariaga et al (2009) give for O. alutacea. However, they're pretty close to the spore sizes quoted for North European specimens: 12–13.5 × 5.5–7 μm.

400x magnification. Mounted in water.

400x magnification. Mounted in Melzers reagent.
The authors go on to say, "To be able to fully clarify species boundaries within the O. alutacea complex, sampling of additional collections for molecular study is needed. Distinguishing morphological and ecological characters should be sought, especially through studying fresh material. Several names that belong to this complex, such as O. alba, O. cinerascens, O. cochleata, O. felina and O. kunmingensis should be considered as this study is undertaken." 

I seem to have fallen into one of those taxonomic rabbit holes that are dotted around in the field of mycology. I wonder if anyone's currently studying the Otidea and would like to take a look at my collection...?

Let's call it Otidea alutacea for now, until someone says otherwise.

34. Nice looking Milkcaps (Lactarius sp.) growing in the end of a birch log

Hoping to get a spore print for this one, which should help me figure out where to start with identification.

UPDATE 3/9/2018
Martin Allison has suggested that this looks like a milkcap (Lactarius sp.), possibly Lactarius tabidus.

I tried getting some milk out of this collection, with no joy! I think it had got a bit hot and sweaty in my collecting box, and stopped cooperating.

However, I've been back today and found a couple of similar specimens, very close to where I collected the one photographed above.

These are definitely milkcaps, albeit not particularly milky ones. Over on Twittter, Helen Baker suggested I try the colour of the milk on a white tissue. But I haven't managed to get enough milk out of them to wet a tissue. 

I've had fun looking at the (whitish) spores though, which according to Geoffrey Kibby's 'Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe Volume 1' should look like this:

Here's a series of images at 1000x magnification, under oil immersion, showing the pointy bit on the side, the sharply pointed (mostly isolated) warts and ridges connecting up some of the warts.

Not sure if this is sufficient to confirm L. tabidus. Lactarius spores all look very similar to me!

35. Cute scurfy little mushroom

Don't fancy my chances with this one! But I got a specimen.

So, that's my haul for the #WoodsMill50 Bioblitz. Still got a bit of work to do pinning down the identifications. And it's very possible I may have got some wrong, so feedback welcome!

If that's whet your appetite and you fancy getting out and doing some fungus recording this season, check out the Sussex Fungus Group.

Many thanks to my colleagues at Sussex Wildlife Trust and Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for organising such a wildlife-packed Bioblitz and letting me just mooch around looking at fungi.

For the record
Date: 1 September 2018
Location: Hoe Wood, Woods Mill, West Sussex

Records entered into FRDBI 07/09/2018

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