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.