Monday 29 December 2014

Meadow Waxcap and The Donkey Sanctuary, Ottery St. Mary, Devon

Meadow Waxcap and The Donkey Sanctuary, Ottery St Mary, Devon

During October 2014 I returned again to one of my special haunts, Exmouth, Devon.
My previous visit during February 2014 was amidst a series of severe Winter Storms.

This time the weather was kinder, and was pleased to find the hotel roof fixed (no green covering on the
 roof ), though I did spend time dodging heavy rain showers.  The sand dunes washed away during February were still absent and the sea looked flat, compared to the swirling, high mass previously.

On my final day, I visited the Donkey Sanctuary at Ottery St. Mary, nr Sidmouth, Devon.  Somewhere I'd been meaning to visit for years and also the prospect of  lots of donkey dung and meadows enticed me as dung, meadows and straw are favourites for some fungi!

What a lovely place to visit.  Enveloped in a peaceful aura, 500 donkeys are currently resident at this Sanctuary.  It has its own hospital and vets to tend to these donkeys who are there to relax (after working jolly hard) for the rest of their lives. On a misty morning it looks quite biblical.

 On a walk along a meadow running down to the coast I photographed a fungi that I thought at the time might be some sort of waxcap.  The texture obviously felt and looked waxy.  It was ochraceous and had particularly decurrent gills.  Solitary in dewy grass.  The cap being up to 8 cm and rather wavy at the margin edge.

 On my return I identified it as Meadow Waxcap  Hygrocybe pratensis. 
I did also find a fungus growing in horse dung!  Tan brown with a shiny cap and a long curved stem.
Todate, I've not yet managed to identify it. 

These images can now be seen on on Browse 5.

Monday 17 November 2014

Bovista paludosa (Fen puffball) found in Wales

Bovista paludosa (Fen Puffball)

I was recently sent a newspaper article reporting that the Bovista paludosa (Fen Puffball) a rare type of fungus has recently been found in Wales, UK. So I wanted to share this story.

 Overall, only five examples have ever been recorded in the UK, thus making it one of the country's rarest fungi.  This fungus was discovered during a survey into 200 of the country's most important bog and fen sites.
It is such a rare fungus that it is named on the "Natural Environment and Rural Communities list as a UK priority conservation species".


Pear-shaped 1-8 cm across. White or light coloured. When young it has a smooth appearance, with maturity it can appear granular.  A short stalk may be present.  The fruit body at maturity may break away from the stalk which allows it to be blown around in the wind allowing the spores to be spread.  The spores are purple - brown roughly spherical or ellipsoid in shape, and 3.5–7 μm in diameter.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Rhodotus palmatus - Wrinkled Peach Fungus

Rhodotus palmatus _Wrinkled Peach Fungus

The Wrinkled Peach Fungus is a lovely little fungus.  Its habitat is elm logs and due to the lack of mature elm trees since Dutch Elm disease is less common these days.

During the late Summer I visited Bunny Wood (Nottinghamshire) and came across a huge pile of stacked timber.  I noticed right on the top of these logs a tiny little pink fungus.  Luckily for me I was with a friend who was prepared to hoist me to the top of this pile of logs.  Not an easy photo to take kneeling on top of wobbling logs, but well worth the effort as at that time I didn't know what I was photographing!

This little fungus is beautiful.  The most delicate rosy pink and the cap, gills, and stem are both a gelatinous texture. The Wrinkled Peach I saw was a young one and the stem had blood red droplets oozing from it.
I would dearly love to see a mature example as the wrinkled texture becomes very apparent and is rather attractive. 

The characteristics are as follows:  Cap 5-10 cm across, convex then flattened.  Margin in-rolled.  Pink at first, turning later peach to apricot.  Clearly wrinkled at maturity.  Gelatinous.  Gills are inter connected and more pale than the cap.  On elm logs or beams, early autumn to winter.  Rather rare.

Thank you very much to Howard Williams who helped with the identification.

This photograph can now be seen on Browse 5 at

Saturday 23 August 2014

Suillus flavidus, Trough of Bowland, Lancashire

Suillus flavidus, Trough of Bowland, Lancashire, June 2014

During June I spent a few days in Lancashire.  I enjoyed a very hot spell of weather and as I spent most of my time at, or near the coast, there were no fungi to be seen.  On the return journey home, we travelled through the Trough of Bowland.  The Trough of Bowland is a valley and high pass reaching 968ft (295m) above sea level.  It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and separates Lancashire with West Riding in Yorkshire.

It was a delightful drive.  We met very few cars and I saw, and managed to photograph my first ever Curlew. 

I stopped at a copse of pine trees.  The ground seemed more damp at this height and I photographed what I believe might be Suillus flavidus.
I say might, because I did not remove this fungus from the site to get an analysis as there were only two.  

The features are: cap 2-6 cm across, straw-yellow to pale ochre.  The pores are large and angular and deep yellow.  The stem is straw yellow above a gelatinous, tawny coloured ring, and dull and buff below.  This specimen definitely had a gelatinous ring.  The habitat where it is to be found is in wet mossy areas usually with Scots pine.   Late Summer. It is classed as uncommon and on the Red Data List as being seen as vulnerable.
These photographs can now be viewed on Browse 5,

Special thank you to RE for driving.

Monday 21 July 2014

Exmouth February 2014 Floods and Dung Cup (Peziza vesiculosa)

Exmouth February 2014 - Floods and Dung Cup (Peziza vesiculosa)

So much can change in four months. The previous October 2013 the weather was mild with wall to wall sunshine and with no inkling that Britain was soon to experience storm after storm (from December - February) each one being stronger and inflicting more damage.  As it turned out the storms were the worst for 60 years.

Undeterred, I carried on with my plans to visit Exmouth to have a break and look for fungi.
Making plans was not easy.  The train timetable meant very little. No advance bookings allowed either.   Flooding at the Somerset Plains meant my train would get to Bristol and then take a detour around the London-Paddington route - a longer journey but I was prepared. A 5 am start to get the only train without a bus alternative.

The Cross Country train was only a quarter full.  It seemed no-one wanted to travel.  There were only a handful of people in my carriage - all a little subdued.  I saw the flooding on the television - but nothing can prepare for the reality.  For 30 minutes on both sides of the carriage - just water as far as the eye could see.
Poor people and wildlife.  I felt a little guilty capturing human misery with my camera.  But it was mesmerizing being on a train that appeared to be skimming across miles of water. Credit to Cross Country Trains for their punctuality and cheerful service.

Exmouth had taken a battering but not as much as Dawlish just over the bay where a section of the railway was hanging in mid-air and a battle was on to rebuild the route ready for the Easter Holiday.
Every night from my hotel room I saw the arc lights brightly lit as Network Rail worked around the clock and the tides.

Peziza vesiculosa (Dung Cup)

I came across this little fungus in a heavily horse manured park.  Dung cup is specific to horse manure.
There were lots all lying on the surface of the manure.  The dimensions are: 3-8 cm diam.  When young it looks like a little shallow button, upon maturity it takes on the appearance of a cup with an uneven margin.  The colour varies from dark buff to light tan.  The exterior of the cap is markedly creased and the inside is smooth. 

There was not much else to photograph as it seemed the floods had washed away all the spores and fruit bodies.

These photographs can now be viewed on Browse 5,

Saturday 17 May 2014

Baudoinia compniacensis (Whiskey Fungus)

Baudoinia compniacensis (Whiskey Fungus)

The above fungus seems to have hit the headlines around the time of World Whiskey Day.

It is a sac fungus* which seems to appear around or near distilleries.  It has a preference for airborne alcohol. The mycelium is black has a velvet like structure and is crusty.  The problem with this fungus is that it grows on homes - near or around a distillery.

Unfortunately for Scotland, in North Ayrshire, Beith, and other places in the world, this fungus is blighting houses, cars and other surfaces. This makes the exterior of buildings and roofs look as though they are covered in black soot.  The reason this fungus is so persistent is that it can withstand high temperatures.  Ethanol vapour will accelerate its growth.  It can be removed from buildings using high pressure jets and bleach. It seems the structure of buildings is not damaged once it has been removed.

* an enclosed spore bearing structure

Thursday 8 May 2014

British Allotments under threat and thus Flora and Fungi

The current Threat to British Allotments and indirectly Fungi

In this current blog posting I am deviating a little from my usual topic of talking strictly about Fungi.

At the moment there is a controversial issue taking place in the UK concerning our precious allotment plots.
To set the scene - in 1940 there were 1.4 million allotment plots in the UK.  Due to closures, and plots being sold off for re-development,  ie. housing, dwellings, etc there are now only approximately 155,000 left in the UK.  Between 2010 and 2013 the Communities UK Government Department closed down over 5,000 plots.  This is a very sorry and worrying state of affairs.  The future of UK allotments has now reached a critical juncture

The reason I decided to include this topic in my Fungi Blogs is that there are multiple reasons for preserving the plots we have left - and in fact to create more.

- Allotments plots are a haven for insects, bees, birds, the list is comprehensive, and the subject I'm passionate about being Fungi.

Allotments have piles of manure, wood-chippings, hedges, trees, grass, tree roots and the list is endless - all where fungi grow.  Fungi need protecting.  Fungi are natures recyclers and are an integral part of the eco system and have a symbiotic relationship with trees.  It becomes apparent that the more allotments that are destroyed the less fungi and all the other flora, and insects we have.  There is the potential for imbalance.

This is just one aspect.  What about the pleasure factor it gives individuals and families. What about the health benefits of relaxing in the allotment and growing nearly organic vegetables.  What about the community and social aspect of these little communities which are an oasis to get away from the fast pace of modern living.

On the 25th July 2014 an allotment closure in West Watford Hertfordshire is taking on the Communities Agency and Mr Eric Pickles.  The case hopes to be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice and if you could tweet or donate some funds to help fight this case which could well be a precedent to the remaining allotments/plots in the UK, then please

Tweet @SavefarmTerrace

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.


The Royal Courts of Justice recently delivered their judgement and ruled in favour of  Home Farm Terrace Allotments. This means, that for now, the allotments are safe from development.


Monday 5 May 2014

Rhodocollybia butyracea, Watch Wood, Nottinghamshire

Rhodocollybia butyracea (butter cap mushroom)

Watch Wood, North of Nottingham, was new territory for me.  A mixed wood, acid soil and some conifers. Very quiet, and we saw no other person.  I found Collybia. butyracea towards the end of the walk.  Its common name is Buttery Collybia and is part of the Marasmiaceae family.  This little fungus is usually found towards the end of the year in sheltered woods.  It is very variable in its characteristics and I had to ask Howard Williams (Retired Recorder) for Notts Fungi group for an opinion.  

On drying the cap can have many hues of colour, the size can be variable too.  The darker centre of the cap is seen on the photograph (see  It has white close gills which are cartilagenous.
I have a little token from that wood.  Near to the Collybia butyracea lay an abandoned old shovel on the ground!  It was big and heavy so my walking companion offered to carry it back to the car.  Useful for shovelling snow in the next severe winter me thought!

Also during December I came across a beautiful brown Oyster mushroom.  It was at its prime and the sun shine was glowing through the gills so I decided to capture it.  Pleurotus ostreatus can vary in colour from grey, deep blue to brown.  This was my first sighting of a brown one.

Photographs can now be seen at Browse 5.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

BBC4 The Magic of Mushrooms

The Magic of Mushrooms

Fungi enthusiasts may be interested to note that starting on BBC4 on 24th April 2014 a new television programme will be starting on Fungi.  It is introduced by BMS Vice President Richard Fortey.

It is entitled The Magic of Mushrooms.  Mushroom enthusiast Richard Fortey explores the strange and surprising science of fungi.

It is very good indeed that the subject of fungi is being given a platform.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Bulgaria inquinans - Exton, Exmouth October 2013

Bulgaria inquinans - Black Bulgar 

I returned to Exmouth during October 2013.  Having visited earlier in the year (February 2013) when I was hopeful about finding some fungi,  but the weather then was arctic with temperatures plummeting to -6 with even colder windchill, so I found nothing.

During October 2013 I was blessed.  Apart from one episode of rain early one morning I experienced wall to wall sunshine with temperatures reaching a heady 18 degrees.

Stayed again at The Manor Hotel, Beacon Hill which is just lovely.  The staff are wonderful and the relaxed atmosphere is ideal for me. "The Manor Hotel is just a few houses away from the former residence of Lady Nelson and Lady Byron. It was one of the first properties to be built on The Beacon and is in fact Exmouth's oldest hostelry dating back to the 1790's and was once visited by the composer Franz Liszt in 1840.Just a short stroll to both the beach and the town with stunning sea views across the Exmouth bay." 

My aim was to cycle along the River Exe coastal path to Topsham a fourteen miles return trip.This I did and the fabulous bonus was that a very kind member of staff  lent me her mountain bike.
It is a superb trip as the path is wooden, very safe,  and hugs the Avocet single track railway line running from Exmouth to Exeter. 

I came across Bulgaria inquinans at Exton.  They were growing on a dead log tucked away some distance from the path.  Unfortunately they were behind a metal fence, and luckily my camera lense just fitted in between the railings. A huge number of them - some young and others at full maturity.

The characteristics are:  1-4 cm across, black, rubbery and shiny at maturity.  When young more brown with a tightly in-rolled margin.  At maturity it resembles a disc.  The habitat is on dead wood of deciduous trees, oak and less likely beech.  Autumn.  

This is not to be confused with Bulgaria exidia which is more rubbery and flexible in texture and not so disc shaped.

On the return cycle back, I ate my sandwiches sitting on the bike, alone, having the pleasure of watching three fox cubs squealing, playing and grooming themselves in the sun.
A great day.

These photographs can now be viewed on Browse 5 of

Monday 13 January 2014

Paxillus Involutus (Rollrim) fungus

Paxillus involutus (Roll rim) fungus

This is a large agaric that can grow either in trooping groups or is solitary.  It usually can be found in broad-leaf woods near to birch and on acid soil.

The cap can be up to 12 cm and it can be tall with the stem measuring up to 7 cm.  Initially the cap can be olivaceous and as maturity happens it will become more hazel-brown, firstly convex, then becoming expanded and somewhat depressed in the middle.  The margin will be in-rolled.  The gills become sienna-brown with rust spots, decurrent and crowded.

The stem is concolorous with the cap.  It is distinguished by darker bruising at the apex of the stem.  There is no ring.

I came across my first P involutus on a day trip to Stanage Edge in the Derbyshire Peak District.  Stanage derived from stone edge, is famous for rock climbing.  It has an elevation to 1,503 feet at its highest point.  It was historically a paved packhorse road which ran along the top of the edge.

We walked across the ledge on a crisp and very windy October day.  Silent except for the wind and the chink of metal from the rock climbers.  We took a path downwards to Curbar Wood. a magical wood empty except for us.  During that lovely walk I came across huge groups of Fly Agaric.  The P involutus was solitary in a little clearing next to birch trees.  It is a handsome fungus.  The one I photographed had an extremely prominent umbo.  I have subsequently been told that this sometimes happens, and then it becomes depressed.  It is easily recognised by the decurrent gills which stain darker brown at the apex of the stem.

Also on this trip I think I came across Beech milkcap (Lactarius blennius).  The cap had a white droplet of milk visible at the margin edge.  The cap is 4-10 cm across and the colour is very difficult to describe but being a mixture of olive, grey, green and even silver.  The texture of  the cap reminded me of unfired Denby pottery, which is interesting as it is a pottery based in Derbyshire!

Thank you to RE for taking me to this lovely area of Derbyshire/S. Yorkshire.

These photographs can now be seen on,  Browse 5.