Sunday, 30 October 2016

Now That's What I Call A Fungus Foray

Back out with the Sussex Fungus Group today, this time for a public fungus foray around Tilgate Park in Crawley with Kevin Lerwill from the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership.

I hadn't been to Tilgate Park before, and hadn't appreciated what a vast and varied greenspace this is, wedged between the southern edge of Crawley and the M23. Led by Kevin, our route took us along woodchipped-paths through a mixture of broadleaf and coniferous woodland to the pinetum and back through an area of mature parkland. Nick Aplin, Chair of Sussex Fungus Group, was there to introduce us to the fungi of these different habitats.

We saw many different species, including quite a few not-very-photogenic Mycena and Psathyrella species. So what follows are just a few personal highlights.

Fungus forayers in Tilgate Park, Crawley.

It seems the 2016 fungus season is finally getting into full-swing which gave me a chance to meet a number of different species I haven't come across before, including some very charasmatic mushrooms.

One species I must have come across before is Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea. I'm familiar with its bootlace-like root forms ('rhizomorphs') that spread under the bark of hardwood trees, but much less familiar with the fruiting bodies. We saw masses today, which Nick identified as A. mellea, so I should have got my eye in now.

Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea

More Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea

A new species for me was Birch Knight Tricholoma fulvum – a mycorrhizal species which grows with deciduous trees, mainly Birches (hence the name). The Collins Complete (photographic) Guide describes this as a "brown knight with distinctive yellowish flesh," which you can just about see in the lower of the two photographs below. Nick explained that the yellowish gills become spotted-brown with age – another distinctive feature of this species.

Birch Knight Tricholoma fulvum

Birch Knight Tricholoma fulvum
Growing on a rotting tree stump, we came across two species from a genus which is new to me: Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata and Jelly Rot Phlebia tremellosa.

Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata

Jelly Rot Phlebia tremellosa
Moving into an area of coniferous woodland, we came across a patch of False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca diminutive mushrooms of a gorgeous apricot colour, growing with pine.

False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca 
This species looks superficially similar to the Chanterelle Cantharellus cibarius (which I saw at Stedham Common in early September) but has these repeatedly-forking gill-like structures on the underside – rather different to the real gills of the Chanterelle.

False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca
Not far away, also growing under pine, we came across a patch of Saffron Milkcap Lactarius deliciosus, slightly past their best.

Saffron Milkcap Lactarius deliciosus
Saffron Milkcap Lactarius deliciosus
The Collins Complete (photographic) Guide describes the milk as "carrot-coloured" which I'd say it pretty spot-on, judging by my photograph above.

Saffron Milkcap Lactarius deliciosus discolours green when damaged, which you can just about see in the photo below. You can also see the darker pits on the stipe (apparently known as 'scrobiculations' great word!) which are another characteristic feature of this species.

As well as a likely Blusher Amanita rubescens growing with the False Chanterelle under the pines, when we emerged into an area of mixed woodland we came across a lovely fresh patch of False Deathcap Amanita citrina. This species can be distinguished from the Deathcap Amanita phalloides by its more persistent veil and strong smell of raw potatoes.

False Deathcap Amanita citrina. Smelt strongly of raw potatoes.

Later on, Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria added a splash of colour where we found it fruiting among the short-mown grass of the pinetum. It was nice to see the Amanitas putting on a display as they've been noticeably absent from most of my fungus forays this year.

The pinetum proved fairly productive as we found quite a few different species in this area of Tilgate Park.

The Yellowleg Bonnet Mycena epipterygia, although small, was fairly memorable because, as well as its yellow stipe, Nick showed us how its gelatinous skin (or 'cuticle') can be peeled away.

We also found a large patch of Primrose Brittlegill Russula sardonia, with its pink stem and wasabi-hot tasting flesh. I did actually summon up the courage to taste a bit; it wasn't pleasant.

Primrose Brittlegill Russula sardonia

One of highlights for me was the Greenfoot Fibrecap Inocybe calamistrata. I don't think I've come across the Inocybes before and the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide warns that they can be "a complex genus, with many species needing microscopic examination for identification". But this one's a real doozy.

Greenfoot Fibrecap Inocybe calamistrata (looks more like a blue foot to me).

Nick also pointed out another species from this genus which he identified as Inocybe mixtilis.  This species doesn't feature in the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide, but it does get an entry in the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide, which mentions its "marginate bulbous" stipe. You can just about see how the stipe broadens out at the base, in this photo.

Inocybe mixtilis

We also came across the Bicoloured Deceiver Laccaria bicolor in the pinetum so-called because of a distinctive lilac base to its stipe. (Nick says if I put it in the fridge it will grow a lilac fuzz around the base of the stipe. So I've put it in the fridge...)  

UPDATE 04/11/2016: Click here to see what it looked like after five days in my fridge.

Bicoloured Deceiver Laccaria bicolor

Our fungus foray was bookended by Laccaria, with The Deceiver L. laccata at the beginning and Amethyst Deceiver L. amethystina towards the end, so we were quite well deceived.

Moving on from the pinetum into more of a parkland-type habitat, we came across a Cortinarius species growing with Oak which Nick identified as Earthy Webcap Cortinarius hinnuleus. Distant gills and a pointy centre to the cap are distinctive features of this mushroom. I found the gills quite beautiful. I read afterwards in the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide that this species has "an unpleasant earthy or gassy odour". I wish I'd sniffed it.

Earthy Webcap Cortinarius hinnuleus
Earthy Webcap Cortinarius hinnuleus

From there, Kevin took us in the direction of a fine old Oak tree – home to the perennial Oak Mazegill Daedalea quercina

Fungus forayers under the old Oak tree.
Oak Mazegill Daedalea quercina
Oak Mazegill Daedalea quercina up close.

Near there, Nick pointed out a Dyers Mazegill Phaeolus schweinitzii.

Dyers Mazegill Phaeolus schweinitzii
We'd also seen a patch of Common Mazegill Datronia mollis earlier in the day, so I was thinking, "We've done well for Mazegills!" Until I started writing this blog and realised they're all in entirely different genera, which just goes to show that English names aren't always terrifically helpful in learning how to navigate the fungus kingdom.

Common Mazegill Datronia mollis
That was about it, save for this very fresh-looking Alder Bracket Inonotus radiatus spotted on the way back to the car.

Oh, and a tiny slime mould which I'm going to try and cultivate.

For the record
Date: 30/10/2016
Location: Tilgate Park

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


  1. Great Blog as always. Almost as good as being there, which often I am unable to be due to family commitments. Please keep them coming. Of note to me at least there are three species I have never seen in the field. Life time ticks are a continuing of feature of foraying however long one forays for, one of the delights of the hobby. Inocybe is like Cortinarius a critical genus with 100s of similar looking species that can often only be separated microscopically in the case of Inocybe, so having an expert like Nic on hand is a great advantage.

    1. Thanks Ted! Glad you enjoyed the blog. Yes, I'm getting the impression that mycology, as a hobby, has the potential to offer infinite interest - if you stick with it. Here's to sticking with it!