Friday, 9 September 2016

Young Geastrum triplex (Collared Earthstar)

Young Geastrum triplex (Collared Earthstar)

Last February I wrote about the Collared Earthstar.  I included in the post a photograph of an example which was a little past its best but decided to show it anyway because it's an unusual looking fungus.

I am revisiting this fungus because a few weeks ago whilst out cycling in the Derbyshire Peak District along the Monsal Dale trail, I came across a group of about twenty and these were all in perfect condition.  They were growing on a steep slope (an old railway embankment) in soil and leaf litter with mixed trees. 

Below is a series of photographs showing this splendid earthstar.

The first photograph shows a group and the 'collar' at its best.

The second two photographs show something I've never seen before and may not encounter again.  This is the structure from which the earthstar emerges.  It looked like an unopened tulip bulb or a shallot with a woody type of appearance.  The photograph below shows the unopened structure.

The third and final photograph shows the structure starting to open and the young earthstar starting to emerge.

What can be seen here is the early process of the 'splitting' of the rays before they bend back. 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Pisolithus arrhizus

Pisolithus arrhizus (Dyeball Fungus)

This week I received an email from a gentleman living in the USA.  Attached was a photograph of an ugly looking fungus that he'd found in his garden and which he had cut in half.  The interior looked full of seeds, a little like pumpkin seeds.  I requested he send me another photograph this time of the whole fruit body.  A whole day passed by and then I received a further message which reported that he'd managed to identify it as being probably Pisolithus and he duly sent me further photographs.

I am very grateful to receive these photographs because this fungus is very rare in Britain.  It is more frequent in central Europe.  In the USA it has been seen in California, Winconsin, Mississippi, Florida and Massachusetts.

Its characteristics are as follows:

Resembles dry horse dung, up to a diameter of 12 cm and up to 25 cm in height.  It can be a mixture of yellow, brown, grey and beige. There is either a simple stem or none at all. The texture is rough and granular.  The outer wall can rupture thus exposing pear-shaped looking seeds that contain the spores.  Habitat can be sand and gravel pits and also coal waste heaps.  It is not edible.

According to Thomas. J. Volk, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse this fungus gets its nutrition from the roots of trees such as conifers and sometimes oaks.  It can survive at low pH (high acidity) soil, with heavy metals present, and also in drought conditions.

The above image showing the whole fungus.

The above image showing the interior of the fungus.

With grateful thanks to Nathan for providing these photographs.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Field Guide to the Mushrooms of Britain and Europe. New Holland Publishers (October 2016)

Field Guide to the Mushrooms of Britain and Europe
New Holland Publishers (October 2016)

I am thrilled to be able to share the news about the above Field Guide.
New Holland Publishers approached me last year and I have been busy getting the book organised and written.  It will be available to purchase during October 2016.

Synopsis: There is a huge and growing interest in the fascinating world of fungi.  This field guide is aimed specifically towards the many beginners to the subject of mushrooms, although it is also suitable for those with a little more knowledge.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Ceratiomyxa fructiculosa


Myxomycetes are more commonly known to mushroom enthusiasts as Slime Moulds.

Slime moulds are usually very tiny, with lots being invisible to the naked eye, and those that can be seen are easily missed.  They are a primitive group of fungi which usually live on dead or rotting wood and their purpose is to help with the decomposing of dead vegetation.  There are many different species perhaps into the hundreds and this is a Subject in itself.  Some fungi books include a few examples of the more visible and common types that enthusiasts might encounter.

The photograph below shows Ceratiomyxa fructiculosa.  This was found at Elvaston Castle Country Park, Derbyshire during October 2015.  A very tiny structure consisting of minute, off-white club-shaped bodies (0.5 mm to 1 cm tall) that can look almost translucent, or pale grey.  It was growing in small lines on a dead branch lying on the ground. 

Monday, 28 March 2016

Daldinia concentrica

Daldinia concentrica

Daldinia concentrica has various common names ie Cramp Balls and King Alfred's Cakes.
It grows on a variety of trees but does favour beech and ash and looks like small black balls of hard coal.  When young it is reddish brown with a greyish tinge, turning black in full maturity. It can reach up to 7cm in diameter. The flesh consists of concentrical zones.

Yesterday I visited Bottom Wood, near Matlock, Derbyshire. I've seen Daldinia concentrica on many occasions over the years but have always wanted to see the 'internal' concentrical ridge/zone structure.  Easier said than done, as the fruit body is extremely hard and I always thought a hack-saw! would be required to cut one in half.

The Daldinia I came across yesterday and touched, crumbled in half and there before me was the concentrical structure I had wanted to see for many years.  What struck me is that they look just like the 'rings' on tree trunks that have been cut down and are counted to ascertain the age of the tree.  On further research it seems that each zone layer on the Daldinia is representative of each season of growth.  I counted eight zones so presumably this example has had eight growing  seasons.

Below is a photograph showing the concentrical zones and a mature example.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Bovista - Holkham Beach, Norfolk


What is a Bovista?  A Bovista is a true puffball.  It is usually round, oval or pear shaped and either lacks a stem or narrows into a stem like base.  Is quite small and measures no more than 4cm to 6cm across.  Some are attached to the ground by either a single cord known as a mycelial strand or others can be attached by masses of slender strands also known as mycelial strands.  The texture can vary but most tend to feel dry like parchment.  Some are smooth, others flaky and some compromise minute pointed or flattened scales.  The colour is variable from whitish grey to dark reddish brown.  

The apical hole can be regular or irregular in shape and the spores are mostly brown and powdery.  Usually grows in small groups of two or three on soil, grassland and pastures.  Also coastal regions near or in sand dunes.

Last week I returned to Norfolk.  When making my way to the Holkham Beach I spotted a small group of Bovista growing in pasture land very close to the beach.  This one was attached to the ground by masses of strands in sandy soil.  A spore print analysis was not done as I was away from home so an absolute identification could not be undertaken but it might be Bovista dermoxantha (pusilla).

Two photographs below and these will appear on in the future.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Geastrum triplex (Collared Earthstar)

Geastrum triplex (Collared Earthstar)

I received a phone call from a friend who'd spotted an  'unusual looking' fungus growing behind his green house.  I duly requested a photograph to be sent via mobile phone and it appeared to be the Collared Earthstar, but of course I needed to see for myself.

Despite being Christmas Eve, it was important I took a look before it, or they vanished.

There were three or four growing a few feet apart.  I have not seen many Earthstar but when I have, my first thoughts are how tiny they are in reality.  As even when the rays are fully formed this fungus would fit in the palm of your hand.  These were a little past their best with the rays looking a little brown and sodden but the 'bulb' was still firm and a nice grey colour.

The Collared Earthstar more than likely is the most common of the Geastrum.

The characteristics are as follows:

Initially the 'bulb' is only 5cm across.  It opens out to about 10 cm and has between 4 and 8 pointed rays. The spore sac is greyish in colour and has a central pore.   The rays grow more upright with age and eventually slightly turn back on themselves.  This can cause them to crack a little.  The spore sac looks as though it is sitting on a little collar.

It usually grows  in leaf litter near to deciduous trees between late Summer to Autumn.

Below is a photograph.  The rays are past their best.

A more detailed photograph can be seen at on Browse 5.