Thursday, 6 October 2016

Meet the Pluteus

Another trip out with Sussex Fungus Group on Sunday; this time to a private woodland site near Northchapel, West Sussex.

The season is now, finally, getting going.

Focussing first on the bigger things, Sunday's foray provided my first real introduction to the Shields or Pluteus mushrooms. Peter Marren's Mushrooms book describes these as:
"Mostly smallish mushrooms characterised by round caps and gills that are pink and free (i.e. not attached to the stem). All of them grow on rotten wood, including woodchip and sawdust. Some have attractively patterned or brightly coloured caps. They may be indicators of ancient, or at least lightly managed, woodland."
Taking these in the order we found them, which means starting with this terrible photo, we first came across this Pluteus with a mousy brown to greyish cap.

Pluteus pouzarianus
On first impressions it was thought to be a Deer Shield Pluteus cervinus. However, the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide mentions there's a similar species, P. pouzarianus, which is "far less common and confined to decayed conifer wood". It was hard to make out what kind of wood this mushroom was growing on but we found it in the shade of some lonesome pines so Nick Aplin decided it would be prudent to take this one home for examination under the microscope. He's since been in touch to say, "According to Funga Nordica this species differs from P. cervinus by the presence of clamps in the cap cuticle, which were observable." So, P. pouzarianus it is.

We went on to see a pretty little yellow mushroom sprouting from one of the woodpiles which dotted the woodland floor - another Pluteus. There are a couple of species which can have a yellow cap so Nick took this one home for determination and found it to be Yellow Shield P. chrysophaeus.

Yellow Shield Pluteus crysophaeus. Image credit: Wu Di, Sussex Fungus Group

Next up another mousy-brown Pluteus, this time growing on a pile of decaying logs from a broadleaf tree, which makes this a Deer Shield P. cervinus. 

Deer Shield Pluteus cervinus
On another, particularly fruitful, log pile we found Velvet Shield P. umbrosus which has distinctively coloured gill edges. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of these.

Velvet Shield Pluteus umbrosus
And last but not least, on yet another wood pile, we found a lone Willow Shield P. salicinus - a "Shield of unusual and distinctive grey colouration." According to the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide.

Willow Shield Pluteus salicinus
Just to manage expectations here; those were probably the biggest and most charismatic mushrooms we found on our foray. None of the mycorrhizal fungi those big beasts of the forest floor had put in an appearance for us.

But we did find some little charmers.

Burgundydrop Bonnet Mycena haemotopus (a relation of the Saffrondrop Bonnet M. crocata which I came across in The Mens the other day) was a new one for me.

Burgundydrop Bonnet Mycena haemotopus
I think we decided this was Burgundydrop Bonnet M. haemotopus again, growing in some profusion on one of the woodpiles.

Burgundydrop Bonnet Mycena haemotopus

Equally memorable, albeit for a different reason, was this Foetid Parachute Micromphale (=Marasmiellus) foetidum. It stank.

Foetid Parachute Micromphale (=Marasmiellus) foetidum
And I was impressed with this fungus just for being so black. BLACK! Like the endless blackness of space.

Chaetosphaerella phaeostroma

Nick Aplin identified this one as Chaetosphaerella phaeostroma. If you zoom in on the photo you can just make out the tiny spherical perithecia (fruiting bodies).

There was one species which got our group of foray-ers particularly interested...

Here you can see us all trying to get a look at Chlorencoelia versiformis.

Chlorencoelia versiformis

According to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan this species is a very rare saprotroph (type of fungus that feeds on decaying organic matter) found on dead wood of broadleaved species.

For the record
Date:  2 October 2016
Location: Private site near Northchapel

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

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