Monday 9 December 2013

Clathrus Ruber

Clathrus Ruber

The Clathrus ruber is a species of fungus related to the stinkhorn family.  Also known as latticed fungus, basket fungus and red cage.  This fungus grows alone or in small clusters near wood debris, on lawns and fallen leaves.  It is native to Southern and Central Europe.  There have been recordings in Southern England, mostly from Cornwall, Hants, Devon, Isle of Wight and Surrey.  It is also recorded in the USA.

Its colour can range from pink, to orange/red.


Initially starts out as an egg which is white/grey.    This then opens up to reveal a lattice that is orange/pink/red (the exact colour can vary).  The spores are green/black.  This attracts flies. Once exposed the lattice can be covered in slimy olive-green spore mass which is foul-smelling.  The height can be anything up to 20 cm but seems to average out at 11 cm or so. It appears in later Summer-Autumn and is rather rare.
It is recorded as inedible.

My story relating to Clathrus Ruber started in February 2012.  I received an email from a gentleman who contacted me for an id on a fungus he believed to be an Orange Peel fungus.  This photograph had been taken in Branscombe, E. Devon. the previous November 2010.   It most certainly was not an Orange Peel Fungus.  Having received a photo more recently of Clathrus Archeri,  I believed it to be the related, but collapsed Clathrus Ruber.  It looked well past its sell-by-date and I needed another photo to verify its id.

I wrote as such to this gentleman who told me he visited Branscombe on a yearly basis during November and he would look out for it.  I was naturally thrilled by this, as to have a photo of this more rare C. Ruber would be a marvellous addition to the website.  The following year he visited the exact area and there was no sign of this fungus.

Out of the blue during November 2013 I received another email from him informing me that he'd visited the exact spot again and this time had struck the jackpot!  Not only had he done that, but he'd managed to come across C. Ruber at the 'egg stage' and over a 48 hour period took a series of photos of the egg, the emerging lattice structure and then finally the mature C. Ruber. 

The dedication and commitment of this man to repeatedly search for this rather rare fungus and to provide such a detailed series of photographs is heartening and so very well appreciated.
Above is a small photograph of C. Ruber and more detailed photographs will appear on fungiworld in the near future.

Sunday 3 November 2013

BBC warning of Wild Mushroom Foraging October 2013

Ashdown Forest, Sussex

The BBC reported on the 8th October that professional foragers are cashing in on the market value of mushrooms.  Some prized mushrooms have been taken.

It is not actually illegal to pick wild mushrooms but to do so for commercial gain IS.

Today 3rd November 2013 it is reported in the Mail on-line that mushroom pickers have stripped the New Forest of wild fungi to sell to hotels and restaurants.  One Common at a national park (Bramshaw Common), in Hants has no edible mushrooms left.  The same thing happened last year.

Unfortunately media chefs are encouraging foraging during the recession and this is not only endangering  the future of many mushrooms but causing consequences such as trampled ground and other environmental impacts.

I wonder if these commercial chefs know that fungi need protecting and conserving, are vital to the eco-system and are natures recyclers.

Experts have been giving warnings for the past 15 years that the only solution might be heavy fines.

So,  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall et al, please, please, use your high profile status to encourage the population to appreciate and protect mushrooms and not to pick too many of them.

Saturday 7 September 2013

UK Fungus Day, October 13th 2013 - celebrating the wonderful fungal kingdom

UK Fungus Day, October 13th 2013

The aim of National Fungus Day is to celebrate the wonderful fungal kingdom.  There will be a series of events, lectures and forays held across the UK on the above date and also over the weekend of the 12-13th October.

Coinciding with the National Fungus Day there will be an International Mushroom Festival 12-13th October held at Killegar, Ireland.

Events are to be held in various locations around the UK including National Trust Sites, Wildlife Trusts, Natures Reserves etc.  For further information please visit The British Mycological Society Website, or  check to see if any events are to be held in your own local area.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Gymnosporangium confusum up-date

Gymnosporangium confusum update

In a previous blog dated 26th May 2013 I wrote about a rust that I photographed on a friends Juniper tree and was subsequently confirmed to be G. confusum which was a first recording for Nottinghamshire.

The spores travel over a number of weeks either to hawthorne or pear trees.  Observations followed over some weeks and I couldn't locate a hawthorne tree, nor see a pear tree infected in adjacent gardens.  On a practical level though, it is impossible to knock on the doors of all local strangers and ask to snoop around their gardens!

During the period when the spores travel,  I was invited around to see a different friend who has a large orchard garden.  Knowing my interest in fungi, he mentioned that one of his pear trees was becoming infected with rust.  As the crow flies his pear tree is probably 500 m from the Juniper tree.  It is probable, but I can't prove it, that his pear tree became infected from that very Juniper tree.  The photograph here shows the rust.  All photographs relating to
G. confusum can be seen on Browse 4

Saturday 3 August 2013

Arrhenia retiruga

Arrhenia retiruga 

From my experience, Arrhenia retiruga is very tiny, difficult to come across, and hard to find in fungi encylopedic books!  It is classed as a member of the Tricholomataceae, according to Roger Phillips.

My first sighting of Arrhenia retiruga was over a year ago at University Park.   The Nottingham University Park consists of 300 acres of grounds and has been part of the University of Nottingham since 1929.  There is a huge swathe of meadow land which is allowed to grow wild and it is there I first spotted  Arrhenia.  Conditions were damp and moist and amongst a heavily mossy patch in the grass was a small group.  I was a little baffled as there was no stem, no gills and the cap just seemed to rest somehow amongst the grass and moss, but somehow seemed firmly attached.  I took photographs but archived them until I spotted the same again this year in exactly the same area.  I took more photographs (and they are incredibly difficult to photograph) as the cap is very pale in colour being whitish, grey and pallid and being tiny 0.5 cm or so, and seemingly buried in the moss.  While researching some other fungi I did come across a photograph and was able to identify.

This fungus is uncommon.  The characteristics are as follows:

0.5-1.5cm.  Disc, cupped shaped or fan shaped. Lobed margin.  White/greyish, delicate.
No stem or gills.  Habitat usually moss, but can be seen on dead grass and twigs.  Winter to Spring.

It reminded me of a tiny mother of pearl in moss!

This can now be seen on Browse 4 on


Friday 19 July 2013

Egghead Mottlegill, Panaeolus semiovatus, Letham, Scotland

Egghead Mottlegill, Panaeolus semiovatus

Mottlegill,  it seems originates from mottled gills due to uneven maturity of black gills, thus giving a mottled appearance.

My first ever trip to Scotland during the month of May.  I normally spend 5 days there during either August or October to take advantage of the new fungi season but this year my friends had moved to a new dwelling, and a new location, 10 miles inland from Arbroath, and so were keen to have me visit.  So I kept my expectations in realistic proportions, erring on the view that I probably wouldn't find anything much.

How wrong I was.  Within 2 hours of arriving at their new abode, and whilst out on a brief dog walk around grass footpaths around the village, I spotted something in dried up manure in someone's garden.  Thought at first it was a Coprinus but on closer inspection realised it was an Egghead Mottlegill.  Its structure and beauty captivated me; in particular its clay coloured shiny cap, and its unusual creased and wrinkled appearance.   Firstly, I saw a mature group, and then a single fresh specimen.  Can see why it is called Egghead.  The shape is like a hard-boiled egg with the bottom chopped off.  The clay and light buff-coloured cap had a light dusting of black gill spores smeared in the wrinkled structure.  Also on the stem there were sprinkles of black spores. 

Taking a photograph of the fresh single Egghead was challenging.  The sun was in the wrong position, kneeling in dung is not my favourite past time, and also the house owners Jack Russell dog was yapping at me a bit too close for comfort - still all worth it to capture this lovely fungus.

This can now be viewed on Browse 4 on

Saturday 6 July 2013

The Fungi, Exhibition at Whitby Museum, Pannett Park, Whitby, North Yorkshire, UK June-November 2013

The Fungi,
Exhibition at Whitby Museum,
North Yorkshire, UK

June- November 2013

I am happy to report that in celebration of Whitby Naturalists' Club Centenary, it is hosting an exhibition entitled The Fungi - a Celebration of Nature's Recyclers.  The theme was chosen because Fungi "form an incredibly important and key part of the natural world.  Without them we could not live on this planet".

Some other important facts extracted from the exhibition information sheet are:

- Fungi are endangered.  They are just as vulnerable as animals and plants to the threats of habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and persecution.

- The UK has no permanent exhibition about fungi.  None of Britain's great natural history museums has a gallery devoted to fungi.

- It is thought that at least 1.4 million more species may still be undiscovered and about 100,000 have been described.

- Fungi are beautiful.

I am very pleased and proud to have been asked to contribute 28 photographs to this exhibition, along side other photographers from the UK and around the world.  I visited the Whitby Museum last week to see for myself.  It is a very impressive exhibition, being educational and entertaining at the same time. I sincerely hope and believe that fungi will, with time, get the appreciation and protection that they deserve.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Red-belted bracket (Fomitopsis pinicola) and Willow bracket (Phellinus igniarius)

Fomitopsis pinicola

Other names for F.pinicola is Red-belted bracket or Red-banded polypore.  Quite appropriate really as this hoof-shaped bracket has a reddish/rust extended rim around the margin.  This bracket does resemble in shape and texture Fomes fomentarius but grows more steeply. It can reach a size of 30 cm.   It is grooved and wrinkled. The  Fungi of Britain and Europe book states that "it has a resinous covering which melts in heat" and this can be tested using a match!  It smells strongly acidic and grows either in small groups or can be solitary.  Usually found on broad-leaved trees or conifers.  May be seen all year but this is a rare bracket.

If I have interpreted the FRDBI records correctly then it has only been recorded 40 times in the UK.
I was very kindly sent a photograph by DC taken in Gloucestershire and was the second recording in that county.  This photograph can now be viewed on Browse 4 of

Phellinus igniarius

During May I came across my first ever sighting of a Willow bracket.  Having never seen one before I was blessed with seeing on the same day, a young example and then later a mature example. 

The young Willow bracket is very different in appearance to how it matures.  Being hoof-like, and bracket-like, rusty brown, but when mature being grey with a cracked appearance.  Mostly seen on willow but also sometimes on broad-leaved trees.  This can also be seen on Browse 4.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Gymnosporangium confusum

Gymnosporangium confusum  Juniper Rust, (May 2013) (Nottinghamshire)

Friday 17th May 2013.  Not an ordinary day.  The previous day I'd received a text message from a 'fungi aware' friend that something was growing on her Juniper tree.  So, straight after work, I set off to view for myself and take some photographs.  This fungus was certainly different.  Growing in batches on the trunk and branches and not more than five feet off the ground.  Some of the fungus had developed a jelly like texture and was falling to the ground in little clumps. I took many photos including the jelly like substance in the grass. 

The fungus is difficult to describe.  It is mid-brown with mustard coloured powdery spores.  Slightly elongated tongue-shaped.

"In junipers (the primary hosts)  some species of the fungus form a ball like gall about 2–4 cm in diameter which produces a set of orange tentacle-like spore tubes called telial horns. These horns expand and have a jelly like consistency when wet. In other species the telia are produced directly from the bark of the juniper with no obvious gall formation or swelling[2] such as in G. clarvariforme . The spores are released and travel on the wind until they infect an apple, pear, or hawthorn tree."  Source Wikipedia.

After some research, it appears that a pear tree two years previously in an adjacent garden had been infected with Rust and cut down.  This now leaves the question of where will the spores travel within the next 4-6 weeks and what will it infect.  I will write an up-date if monitoring produces a result.

With grateful thanks to RR for his help in doing a spore analysis which enabled a positive identification and for undertaking research about Juniper trees so that we could come to the conclusion that all the facts fitted together ie this was a G. confusum which was growing on a specific Juniper which was a Chinese Juniper.
Even more exciting for us both is that this fungus has never previously been recorded in Nottinghamshire so will be added to the database.

A big thank you also to J O for allowing me to visit the garden and to take photographs.

Photographs of this fungus can now been see on Browse 4, Thumb nail panel 25 at

Sunday 28 April 2013

A Black Fomes fomentarius February 2013

A black Fomes fomentarius

The same friend RE who kindly took me to Annersley Wood, Nottinghamshire and had the pleasure of seeing exposed mycelium on a dead log,  also witnessed the same day, as did I,  another special sight.

This being an exceedingly shiny black hoof-shaped bracket. It was solitary,  looked artificial and as though it had been stuck on a silver birch tree as a joke.  I tapped it expecting it to break off, but it was solid and resembled a shiny piece of highly lacquered plastic.  I'd never seen anything like this.
When back home I did some research and it seems that Fomes fomentarius can turn dark black when exposed to very prolonged wet and cold weather such as was the case during the Winter of 2013.  Some of the darker fruit bodies were previous referred to as Fomes nigricans but more recently fall under fomentarius.

This image can be viewed on Browse 4.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Fungal Conservation - International Society for Fungal Conservation

I have recently become aware of the International Society for Fungal Conservation. 

This Society was established in August 2010 and currently has 300 members in 60 different countries.  It is probably the first Society in the world that has been set up solely for the purpose of the global protection of fungi.

If you wish to learn more about why fungi need protecting then please visit 

Sunday 24 March 2013

Ramaria stricta

Ramaria stricta

Snow, snow and more snow.  This Winter has not been favourable for finding fungi - the ground either being covered in snow or frost and the air temperature being too dry.  Regardless, there was a sudden overnight thaw and so I set off for a tramp around the Nottingham University Park.  It was still bitterly cold, but I decided to persevere.  It paid off.  I was just about to give up when thought I would wander along a minor road lined with shrubs, conifers nearby,  covered in tree bark.  It was there I spotted a coral fungus.  A huge clump and somehow it had been preserved under the snow the previous day.  Very tall, beige with lilac hues.  This was different to other coral fungus I'd seen before.  I took some photographs and in my excitement and probably because I was so cold, I forgot to take a sample.

I checked my books and had a feeling it was Ramaria Stricta, (Upright Coral) as the height was about right and it was very vertical, so sent the photos over to my contact RR at the Notts Fungi Group.  He thought the same but wanted to do a spore test.  So I said I would collect a sample.  The first chance I got was prior to my evening Nordic Walking class. So in the pitch black on hands and knees, dodging security, as my car was illegally parked, I managed to find it and collect a decent sample in a plastic container.  Safely kept in the fridge over night I handed over the sample to RR the following evening.  The spore test confirmed R. stricta
so a great result.  In some parts of the country this is vulnerable and is on the red data list but it seems it is not so uncommon in Nottinghamshire.  All worth the effort as the photo has also been added to Notts Fungi Group website.

Also, as mentioned earlier in a previous blog, the photographs are on the website of Mycelium found on a log that had a chunk of bark missing, thus exposing the usually hidden mycelium.

These photographs can now be viewed on Browse 4.

Monday 11 February 2013


What is Mycelium?

Briefly, mycelium is a thread-like material that usually remains hidden underground in soil or under the surface of tree logs.  It is known as the vegetative part of the fungus.  It is from mycelia that the fruit body of a fungus forms. Mycelium may be minute in size or vast.

(For example in East Oregon mycelium spread covered the size of 1,665 football pitches and was approximately 2,200 years old. Source: Paul Stamets, Wikipedia.).

It is via the mycelium that a fungus absorbs nutrients also it assists in the process of decomposition of plant material.

Yesterday I saw exposed mycelium because a slice of dead tree log had fallen to the ground, thus exposing a network of mycelium strands.  It was a truly fascinating sight as it gave me an insight as to just what goes on underground and out of view of the human eye.  The invisible work that goes on prior to the fruiting body (the mushroom) surfacing.

  I was lucky enough to see this at Annersley Wood, Nottinghamshire.  It was raining steadily, was cold, but after the recent prolonged snow the foliage was bright green.  RE had kindly offered to drive me to this wood, which was new territory for me.  Afterwards, we tucked into a very welcome and gorgeous chicken casserole, so thank you for that.

This photograph will appear on Browse 4 in the future.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Crepidotus variabilis

Crepidotus variabilis (Variable oysterling)

Visited Shipley Country Park, Derbyshire, during November 2012 accompanied by a friend who also enjoys the Shipley Woods as much as myself.  Such an atmospheric wood the majority of trees being ancient beech.  We always come away feeling peaceful.

There are also many dead beech trunks lying around and on one such log I found my first ever
Crepidotus variabilis.  Not very big only up to 2cm diam. -  a dirty looking white kidney-shape.
The texture being felty/hairy and just a small cluster of three or four.  The gills are particularly impressive in their beauty - being distant and very decurrent..

Also on the same log were a little cluster of Calocera cornea.  A maximum of 2 cm in height and very difficult to photograph. Awl shaped and not forked.  Bright yellow when fresh and then turning more orange in maturity.  Felt tough and gelatinous.

These photographs can now be seen on Browse 4.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Pholiota adiposa and Berwick-upon-Tweed

Pholiota adiposa and a return to Berwick-upon-Tweed October 2012

It's not very often I return to visit a place twice in the space of six months but I found Berwick-upon-Tweed so tranquil and soothing that I just had to go back and experience it again.  October being prime fungi season, so hoped to find a few on my walkabouts.  A preview of the weather forecast didn't bode well, with yet more rain on the way, and yes it was raining on the journey, and the view from the train window showed bales of hay and straw marooned on little islands surrounded by vast areas of water-logged fields.

It rained persistently and very heavily for two out of my three full days and it looked jolly miserable, but I was still happy.  Breakfast and a new guest at the table. A travel writer for the Times doing a piece on weekend breaks.  He asked me why I liked Berwick to which I replied - it's a good place to come if you want to get off the treadmill of life!  What are you doing here he asked?  I'm taking photographs of British Fungi I told him.  He put down his knife and fork and said, well I've never been told that before!

I came across Tubifera ferruginosa by chance.  Had walked around the Ramparts in the heavy rain and took shelter under a small tree so I could stand and observe the rough sea with a huge Spring Tide.
On the tree trunk were 3 orange Tubifera f.  Quite small up to 5 cm, and irregularly shaped, so I took photos in perspective and a close-up showing the individual sporgangia.

On the one day without rain and some morning sunshine, I took the bus over the River Tweed to Spittal.
Did a partial cliff walk and at the top near a path in short grass,  I found  a few (I think) Hygrocybe ceracea.  Very bright yellow, waxy and greasy texture.  Very small cap maximum 4 cm diam with no odour.

A little disappointed not to have found more fungi I decided on my last afternoon to have one final look around.  The rain didn't cease until 3pm and the light was very bad but I still went out searching.
Was just about to give up when I approached a few trees tucked away in a very damp and moss covered area deep down below the ramparts.  At first I thought I was looking at Pholiota squarrosa which I had previously seen and photographed some years ago in Scotland.  But these were different.  Still the same characteristic stem with smooth surface above the delicate ring and bands of rust scales below.
But the colour and texture of the cap was different.  The scales did not over hang the margin edge and the ring seemed more fragile.  Also the margin edge was not so in-rolled. Depending on which fungi book you read the colour of the gills varies from light buff initially to deep rust on maturity.  So I believe this might be Pholiota adiposa.  Certainly not squarrosa.  A race against time as the light was fading fast and managed to get some photographs, but the camera has not quite captured the colours that I saw.

These photographs can now be viewed on Browse 4.