Sunday 16 December 2012

Hen of the Woods

Hen of the Woods, Grifola frondosa - October 2012

During the month of October I saw my first ever Hen of the Woods. It was growing directly at the base of a broad-leaved tree about 40 cm diameter.   From a distance it is easy to confuse it with Meripilus giganteus (Giant Polypore).  The difference being in the size and texture though.

Giant Polypore is more light ochre tinged and the fungus caps are more fan-shaped and coarse.  Also the fungal caps are much more cork like in texture and much thicker up to 
1 cm.  It is also more likely to being growing some distance from the base of the tree trunk and following the line of the tree roots.

On the other hand,  with Hen of the Woods, the fungal caps are more tongue-shaped,  and the texture is much more smooth.  Also the colour is more grey-brown and the caps grow from one single stem.

Meadow Wax Cap,  Hygrocybe prantensis

For the first time ever during October 2012,  I joined a guided fungus foray led by a local expert. This was a different experience for me as I usually go out and about either by myself, or with various patient and long suffering friends.  These friends know I am best left alone when the camera comes out!

Anyway, different it was.  The man leading the Group (Lee S) had lots of knowledge to pass on.  Approximately 20 people turned up all keen to learn about fungi and most carrying a camera.  He had set up a huge table in the car park with samples of fungi he'd picked up either earlier that morning or during the previous days.  An elementary outdoor lecture then took place contrasting fungi with gills and pores, stems with rings or no rings, bracket etc.

Then we all set off en mass armed with a tray to collect samples.  This was the bit I found difficult, even though harmless,  as I avoid picking fungi (unless for essential id), preferring them to remain in their natural habitat.   And I felt quite pained! when at the end of the Foray, each person  (except me)  had about 6 fungi in their trays ie 120 samples! all piled up when placed on the table.

Although I enjoyed the Foray, it reinforced my natural inclination to go it alone or with one companion.
I did manage to photograph a Meadow Wax cap which was kindly identified by Lee.
As characteristic with Hygrocybe the beautiful decurrent gills made a lovely photograph.  This though had been picked by someone in the group so my photograph shows it on its side.

These photographs can now been seen on Browse 4.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Chalara fraxinea - Ash Tree Fungus

 Chalara fraxinea

A few words about C. fraxinea.  Chalara fraxinea is a fungus that kills Ash trees by destroying their leaves.  The term most commonly used is Ash dieback.  Sapling trees are most vulnerable and older trees tend to survive a few more years. 

Signs to look for            

Loss of leaf at the crown

Wilting leaves with black/brown discoloration

Whole trees with withered tops

Die back of shoots and twigs

 Spores of Chalara fraxinea blow around in the air and can spread up to 20 miles a year.  Experts currently remain mildly optimistic that this fungus might still be contained before it starts to produce spores in the Spring.

If you do suspect the disease, and saplings will be the most vulnerable, please contact one of the following Agencies.

Forest Research Tree Health Diagnostic and Advisory Service 01420 23000


Forestry Commission Plant Health Service 0131 314 6414

Friday 28 September 2012

Amanita strobiliformis

Amanita strobiliformis (August 2012)

Visited one of my regular haunts, Nottingham University Campus.  Usually I'm out searching for fungi very early in the mornings but on that Sunday afternoon, it was more of stroll around so I could show a friend some of the nice cultivated gardens.

En route to the first garden in a grass verge near to mixed trees, stood a quite large, but immature white fungus.  Next to it was another lying on the ground,  passed its best,  but good enough to get a photograph of the gills.  The immature one was in perfect condition.  I knew it was an Amanita but being immature did not have all its characteristics.  Puzzled I took a good photograph and studied my books.  At a loss, decided to consult an opinion from a contact in the Notts Fungi Group.  Luckily, he had seen the same fungi 2 days later than myself, had analysed the spore prints and was told it was Amanita Strobiliformis.  Both parties happy, his photo had not turned out too well so I could provide my image to the Notts Fungi Group and he had managed to get a good analysis!

It would have been good to see this fungi at its maturity as it is large, white with scales that over-hang the margin.  The stem is white and shaggy with remains of a volval bag, also having a large ring. The immature one I saw was certainly striking.  Usually solitary late Summer to Autumn and according to the books is rare so I'm glad to have seen it.

This image can now be seen on Browse 4.

Saturday 1 September 2012

Scutellinia scutellata

Chester and Scutellinia scutellata - June 2012

Visited a friend in Chester for 3 days.  A new city to visit which is always exciting.
Travelled by train as usual and once beyond Crewe, the scenery became more
rural and the Welsh mountains could be seen in the distance.  

I was most impressed with the 'feel' of Chester.  A city that felt more like a large town,
lovely wide grass verges on the outskirts and so fresh smelling i.e no petrol fumes.
Very near to Chester Racecourse is a small wood called The Dingle.  OS Grid SJ4065.  This small area of wood lies on the southern side of the River Dee.  Was attacked by lots of
mosquitoes but on a dead log I discovered a group of Scutellinia scutellata.
No more than 0.5 cm diameter, disc-shaped, smooth and scarlet.  Took me a while to realise what is was because the dark brown hairs are not easily visible unless at eye level.  Even then a hand lense would be useful.  I can now see why this is called Eye Lash Fungus.  
These pictures can now be seen on Browse 4.  For the first time ever, on fungiworld,  I have enhanced one of the photographs by darkening,  so that the 'hairs' can be clearly seen.

Thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Chester Zoo kindly arranged by my friend - getting a birds eye view from the monorail.  Felt quite pleased as we managed to sit in the exact carriage that the Queen had sat in just recently to celebrate her 60 years on the throne!

Also now to be seen on Browse 4 is Phaeomarasmius erinaceus which I mentioned in a previous blog.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Deceiving Bolete May 2012

Deceiving Bolete May 2012

A pleasant Sunday and a good day to walk to my local garden centre via St. John's Theological College and across the fields - round trip about 3 miles.  I'd persuaded a friend to join me on the promise that she would taste the best and biggest piece of  Lemon Meringue Pie in the district.  No fungi to be seen en route and disappointingly 'The Pie' was off the menu.  Carrot Cake had to suffice.  We set off on the return walk and just outside the Theological College hiding behind an oak tree was the biggest, and most vivid coloured bolete I'd ever seen.  The cap being well  in excess of 15 cm diam and brick red with hues of orange. My camera did not pick up the brick red colour in the photographs. The stem also being the broadest I'd ever seen - 80 cm across and bulbous containing hues of coral, yellow, pink and brick red.  When touched the cap stained blue and had blue bruising evidence.  It has taken much research for me to believe it might be a Deceiving Bolete - Boletus queletii, particularly as the margin edge over-hung by a mm  or so.  It was a magnificent fungi to look at and photograph.  A great end and more than made up for the lack of Lemon Meringue Pie.

Yellow Stainer

Can't be certain about Agaricus xanthodermus but this young fungus had all the characteristics ie.
chrome yellow staining on the cap and also at the base of the stem.  Also the cap had very small
brown/grey scales. A small group growing in grass near assorted trees.  According to
Roger Phillips Mushrooms this is vulnerable needing to be protected and is on the Red Data List.
It would be nice if that was indeed what I saw.

All the above can be viewed on Browse 4.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Berwick-upon-Tweed May 2012

Berwick-upon-Tweed, May 2012

Berwick-upon-Tweed is the most northern town in England and lies 2.5 miles south of the English Border.

I had passed through Berwick-upon-Tweed on the train, many times, over the past 20 years, when on my way to Arbroath in Scotland.   Promised myself that I would visit 'one day'.  So, at long last, I had got around to arranging a four day stay.

I had struck very lucky with the accommodation (Northumbrian House).  The care and hospitality given by Ian the proprietor was first class.  Hidden amongst the towels in my room on arrival was a small bar of chocolate, and every day the biscuit tin on the mantle piece was stocked with fresh delicious cookies.  Wonderful and welcoming after I'd spent hours tramping around Berwick.  The breakfast was fit for a king!
Just the job for active people like myself.  The porridge was served with an optional extra of a dram of whiskey! which I welcomed on my final day.

The weather was kind to me, a reprieve from all the rain the previous weeks.  This allowed me to explore, walking along the River Tweed and around the historical ramparts.  No fungi to be seen until I walked along the beach and decided to explore the grass on the edge of the sand.  After a few hours of searching I managed to find a single Bolbitius vitellinus (Yellow Cow-pat Toadstool).  This was young and well hidden amongst the tall grass.  Previously, a few years prior, I had found a single mature B vitellinus which was at the very fragile stage and in fact as soon as I'd taken the photo a big dog mowed it down.

Another find during the early weeks of May included Agaricus urinascens possibly.  Difficult to be certain but the cap did have large ochraceous patches and smelt like almonds. 

These can now be seen on Browse 4.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Phaeomarasmius erinaceus

Phaeomarasmius erinaceus 16th June 2012

Last Saturday in the drizzle I set off on my bike to visit a friend.  En route she texted me to say she was running 30 minutes late.  Unknown to me at the time this turned out to be a blessing.

Despite the appalling light and heavy drizzle I decided to spend the 30 minutes killing time by visiting the nearby Attenborough Nature Reserve and search for fungi.   It was so muddy I had difficulty riding my bike. It  wasn't long before I passed by a willow tree low to the ground.  On a branch very close to the ground and obscured by a higher branch were two tiny little ochraceous fungi.

The cap being 1 cm diameter,  scaly and with a paler, fringed margin.  The stem being concolorous with cap but darker and with coarse scales.  Being curved and no ring.  My first impression was that it looked like a
Pholiota squarrosa in miniature.  Managed to get a few decent photographs despite the bad light and persistent drizzle.

According to the Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland, 235 have been recorded, 51 being in Scotland.

Two have been previously recorded in Nottinghamshire and my find at Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire
will be added to the database, making a third, now that a spore print analysis proves a positive i.d.  Thanks to Richard Rogers, Notts Fungi Group for carrying this out.

My images will be added to Browse 4 at in a few months time.


Tuesday 5 June 2012

500th image on Fungiworld

500th image on Fungiworld

Well, the Queen celebrates 60 years on the throne and this weekend I up-loaded on fungiworld my 500th photograph of British fungi in 6 years! A mini achievement - hard work but still exciting and fulfilling.

The 500th image being one I cannot accurately identify.  If anyone can help me out please contact me. I think it is a Hygrophorus - it has all the characteristics ie waxy texture.  The stem is pure white with grey or black fibres scattered on it.  The cap is grey but peeling in places.

On a Winter walk during December along the canal path from Beeston to Nottingham I spotted a lovely fungi which might be Lepista sordida.  It was certainly an unusual colour being pinkish/lilac and brown all at the same time!  Also residing in a hedgerow which is characteristic of Lepista sordida.

Anyway, on reaching a suitable eatery, I rather enjoyed my mushroom soup! and garlic bread which sustained me for the return walk which was directly into the winter sunshine.

These can now be viewed on Browse 4.

Monday 7 May 2012

Dale Abbey November 2011

Dale Abbey November 2011

Dale Abbey is a village situated 6 miles east of Derby.  It has what is probably one of the smallest churches in the country (All Saints) measuring just 25 feet by 26 feet and shares a roof with an adjoining farmhouse. Behind the church is ancient woodland containing mixed trees and also a cave known locally as Hermit Cave.  This was carved out of sandstone by a local baker in the 12th century who wished to live life as a recluse.  This measures just 6 yards by 3 yards.

Set off one Saturday November morning with a friend plus her two dogs. The sun shone though it was bitterly cold.  No fungi other than Jew's Ear to be seen in the ancient wood which was surprising.  Thankfully, we had brought along flasks with soup and so decided to sit on a bench in the little grass area surrounding the tiny church.  I wandered off to inspect the grass and found two Hygrocybe ceracea (I think), lovely bright yellow and cheerful looking.  The cap being not quite so conical as other Hygrocybe.

Also during November I visited Nottingham University Campus and found a small cluster of  Rickenella fibula (orange mosscap).  These were in thick mossy grass in a damp area near fir trees.  Again, cheerful bright orange colour, deeper in the middle of the cap and tiny being no bigger than 0.5-1 cm diam.

These fungi can be viewed on Browse 4.

Monday 2 April 2012

Coprinus Lagopides and Clathrus archeri

November 2011

On a winter walk around the Nottingham University Campus, I nearly missed what I think is the very delicate Coprinus Lagopides.  A small group of three were nearly hidden in tall grass.  Lagopides is very similar to Lagopus. Definite identification though is mainly distinguished by the spores. I did not carry out such a test.  They were so delicate and fragile that I feared that if I got too close they would collapse.  The cap being virtually transparent.

Clathrus archeri

Received an email and photograph of Clathrus archeri.  Thrilled about this as it is rare in the UK.
Mainly in Southern Europe but slowly spreading to some southern counties in England.  This one found in
Hampshire.  It resembles a pink or red star fish with between 4-8 arms.  Erupts from a whitish egg and the spore mass is dark olive green and is foul smelling just like Stink horn. 

Both can now be viewed on Browse 4.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Crucibulum - Bird's Nest Fungi

Bird's Nest Fungi  - October 2011

Received two photographs of Common Bird's Nest - Crucibulum laeve taken in Ely, Cambridgeshire.
Full description and acknowledgement given on fungiworld.

What is Bird's Nest Fungi?

A fungi in which the spores develop in small egg-like baskets better known as (peridioles).

There are several types: namely

Common Bird's Nest  Crucibulum laeve, which can be viewed on Browse 4 of fungiworld.

Fluted Bird's Nest  Cyathus striatus

Field Bird's Nest  Cyanthus olla
Nidularia deformis

A return to Scotland - October 2011

A return to Scotland - October 2011

Returned to Scotland for the second time in eight weeks.  Should have been bird-watching in Majorca with Chris but due to previous mentioned sadness (see August blog) this could no longer be the case.  I couldn't bare to stay at home so my kind friends invited me to stay with them.  Still numb from events I set off once again.

A marathon railway journey (nine hours) due to Saturday engineering works.  When I got to York the train took a massive detour to Carlisle instead of the east coast route up to Edinburgh.  This little tour took 1.5 hours but the bonus was new territory for me and stunning views.  Once in Edinburgh the train stopped for a further 30 minutes before setting off again for Aberdeen, allowing us to stretch our legs and smokers were directed to 'smokers corner'!.  Different anyway.

On the outskirts of the golf course at Letham Grange I stumbled across Lyophyllum connatum.  Very petite and a very swollen base of stem.  Pure white, cap, stem and gills, and in groups amongst leaf litter.   

Again on the edge of the golf course in deep lush grass I found what might be Clavulinopsis 
luteoalba.  Not 100% percent certain, but it did have pale white tips with an egg yellow body.  They were scattered around in little groups.

These can now be viewed on Browse 4.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Magic Mushrooms and Psilocybin Research News February 2012

What is Psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance found in some mushrooms known as psilocybin mushrooms.  The most common known is the Magic Mushroom, (Liberty Cap) (Psilocybe semilanceata). 
Possession of this mushroom in all forms has been illegal since 1985.  This mushroom is classed as poisonous, due to its hallucinogenic properties and the symptoms can be enduring and persistent.  Once ingested, psilocybin is rapidly metabolized to psilocin which then acts on serotonin receptors in the brain.  Magic Mushrooms are the most commonly known of this group but others containing Psilocybin include Psilocybe crobula and Psilocybe azurescens amongst others.

An interesting article has appeared in The Guardian (see below) which explains more about the effects of psilocybin on the brain and funding that has been secured to research further if Psilocybe can help with the condition of depression.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Stoney Wood , Derbyshire, September 2011

Stoney Wood, Near Wirksworth, Derbyshire September 2011

My web designer for Fungiworld and friend Craig, offered to take me out for the day.
Without Chris, I am a little restricted for reasons of personal safety, and don't feel inclined to fungi hunt in remote woods or areas, so was eager to have a day out.  Besides which it would raise my spirits.  A pleasant, sunny day, so off we set.

Stoney Wood being very small on the outskirts of Wirksworth, Derbyshire.  Located on the edge of  abandoned quarries previously mined for Derbyshire Stone.  The first fungus I spotted in tall grass and moss I think is Hygrocybe Virginea (Snowy Wax Cap).  Pure white, waxy texture, with a slight twist in the stem.  Growing in small groups. 

We started to follow a gravel path and before long realised were were on the edge of a huge dis-used quarry.  Climbed over a big gate to see if there were any fungi on the edge of this huge area.  Walked about 100 meters and found an unexpected sight.    A deep quarry filled with vivid bright blue water, yet the sky was not vivid blue!  It would have not looked out of place in the tropics.  A white car in the distance, started to make its way towards us.  A lady got out and told us we should not be on the quarry land.  Her job was to make sure people did not go down to the quarry and be tempted to dive in or swim.  We explained that we would not go near and were just looking for mushrooms.  A lady doing a very good job.  She never took her eyes off us.  Also she explained that no matter what the weather, or the season, and even on dull Winter days the water was always vivid blue.  An American rock band had apparently filmed a video there.  We took lovely photographs and left.

Made our way back to Stoney Wood for a picnic.  I searched in more grass and found two Clavaria (White Spindles).   Two lovely little fungi - white,  the larger one being about 6 cm tall with a club-like tip and the smaller one being only 2 cm tall and narrow and slender.  My first white Clavaria having previously seen yellow.

A good day out, my spirits lifted slightly and I won't forget that Blue Lagoon in a hurry.

These fungi can now be viewed on Browse 4.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Laccaria amethystea and Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea)

Arbroath, Scotland, August 2011

Still in Scotland with my friends and extremely grateful for their company and fabulous hospitality.  I felt safe. Also indebted to them for allowing me to shed tears whenever, and wherever I needed to. And for accepting my zombie like state and aimless wanderings.  

Whilst out 'wandering' around the edge of the golf course amongst broad leaf and conifer trees,  I came across a small group of Laccaria amethystea.  The depth of the deep purple colour was impressive. Especially as cap, gills and stem are all such a deep colour.  My photography that day was definitely not at its best and the photo is not as clear as I would have liked - the lighting was bad and the location was difficult and I got stung quite badly by nettles.

September 2011 

Calvatia gigantea - Giant Puffball.  A first for me.  Was tramping around the Nottingham University campus early one morning when I came across two Giant Puffballs.  One young and one mature growing near to each other.  Unfortunately for me, they were surrounded by huge nettles, but I managed to photograph both.  The mature one being larger than a football but still not as big as it could be.  I couldn't resist trying to pick it up to test the weight.  Of course it was lighter than expected and the texture being cork like.  Did not lift it much as didn't wish to damage it.  I could not help wondering just how many people a Giant Puffball would feed!

These pictures can now be viewed on Browse 4.