Friday 30 December 2016

Pleurotus pulmonarius - Pale Oyster

Pleurotus pulmonarius - Pale Oyster

I came across this during the late Summer at Elvaston Castle grounds in Derbyshire.
The grounds being full of mixed trees.

It really is beautiful. A lovely pure white like porcelain and with a very smooth texture on the outer surface of the cap.   Much smaller in size than the Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus.

The caps of the Pale Oyster are 2-10 cm in diamater, whereas the Oyster Mushroom cap can reach up to 14 cm across.  The stem of the Pale Oyster is also smaller reaching a height of just 1.5 cm and can be positioned off-centre from the cap.  It can have a woolly texture near the base.  This is also pure white with very decurrent gills. These gills are narrow and close.  It has no distinctive odour.

With age the Pale Oyster can turn more greyish brown, including the gills and the margin of the cap might start to split.

It tends to grow in small groups on broad-leaf stumps, trunks and on trees that have been felled.  This mushroom is uncommon.

A small group showing the caps

Showing decurrent gills

This group were very immature.

Friday 16 December 2016

Inonotus hispidus - Shaggy Bracket

Inonotus hispidus - Shaggy Bracket

I recently visited Bunny Wood in Nottinghamshire.  It is a small wood that I visit just once or twice a year and where more often than not, I find something interesting.This wood is low down in a hollow and it was very cold.  Still, there were fungi to be seen.

Solitary on an Ash tree trunk I discovered my first Shaggy Bracket.  It has a hidden beauty beneath those shaggy fibrous hairs.  Although a dull tabacco brown in colour because of its maturity, just below the surface could be seen a lovely rusty/ochraceous glimmer.  The fibrous hairs felt like stiff bristles on a yard brush.  This is an annual fungus and when it is old it drops off the tree trunk and is seen as a black lump on the ground.

Characteristics: up to 12 cm across and just as thick. It is usually solitary but can sometimes be seen in small groups.   When young it is ochraceous, slowly turning to tabacco brown with maturity.  Just before it drops of the tree it turns black.  The outer surface has bristle type of hairs, but is felty in texture when immature.  The pores are circular/angular.  It is usually to be found on Ash but can also be seen on apple trees and elm. It is quite common.

Mature Shaggy Bracket

Very mature Shaggy Bracket
The example in the photograph above is at the stage where it is nearly ready to drop off the tree trunk and fall to the ground.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Inonotus dryadeus - Oak Bracket

Inonotus dryadeus - Oak Bracket

Whilst on the same winter break in East Anglia, Norfolk, last November 2015, as per my previous post,  I came across the best example of Oak Bracket I had ever witnessed. This was so large that it caught my eye about one hundred metres' away even before I had got out of the car.

This example was growing on a specific type of oak tree (Holm Oak) and was well in excess of 30 cm across.  I went over to take a look and before long a man joined me, a wild life photographer, who had travelled over 20 miles to take a look at this wonderful Oak Bracket.  He had spotted it growing some months before and had come to take another look.  It was great to stand, talk and admire this bracket with someone who appreciated that we were indeed admiring a very fine example.

A very large and superb Oak Bracket

Description:  a very large bracket that grows up to 30 cm across and even up to 15 cm thick. Pale grey when young and turning medium rust-brown with maturity.  Though some very mature examples can be black.  The outer surface is very uneven and rough in texture and sometimes particularly when still growing the margin edge can ooze rusty-red droplets.  These are not always to be seen though.  The pores are dirty grey-white and might have patches of rust colour present. Grows solitary at the base of oak trees during the autumn and winter.  This is not a common bracket.

Friday 25 November 2016

Geoglossum cookeianum - Black Earth Tongue

Geoglossum cookeianum - Black Earth Tongue

This time last year I took a break on the East Coast of England, Norfolk.
I downed tools from writing the Field Guide to the Mushrooms of Britain and Europe and spent 5 days wandering around the deserted beaches and woodland in East Anglia.  
Therapeutic it was too.  Decent weather and light and I managed to find a few new mushrooms to photograph.  One of them being Black Earth Tongue.

This grows mostly in coastal regions amongst sandy soil and in short grass.  I nearly missed it.  Despite being black it is not easy to spot and could easily be mistaken for dried seaweed.

Description: up to 7 cm tall and 2 cm wide.  Dull black, elongated tongue-shaped and smooth with a blunt and curved tip. The stem is very short. The more dry the weather the more brittle the texture.  It was growing in small groups in short grass in sandy soil.  To be found usually May - November.  It is uncommon.

It rather fascinated me.  An all black fungus with a nice shape and my first find in a decade of searching.  Not a disappointment.  This was found at a location called Snettisham Scalp.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Peziza echinospora - Charcoal Cup

Peziza echinospora - Charcoal Cup

I recently went walking around the remains of an old coal open-cast mining site which is now a series of paths and trails and has a nice mix of trees including silver birch and grazing ground for cattle.   It was quite fascinating pottering about such a sparse landscape and little mounds of black coal deposits.  I also came across several old bonfire sites.  I'm always poking about in these sites because I want to find Bonfire Inkcap.  Not that day though, but I did come across Charcoal Cup.  

This is 3-8 cm across and when young is cup-shaped.  With maturity it spreads out a little with the margin becoming incurved.  The inner surface is shiny, smooth and dark reddish brown.  The outer surface is more pale brown and has a granular/scurfy texture.  This fungus is attached flat to the ground, having no stem.  It grows  in small groups that can be spread out on burnt wood and ground during the Autumn and Spring.

Young Charcoal Cup

Mature example

Showing scurfy outer surface

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Thursday 10 November 2016

Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric

Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric

The Fly Agaric is a fungus that when encountered excites people.  It is brightly coloured and begs to be photographed.  Although this is a very common fungus it is not always possible to get really good photographs as the cap soon becomes nibbled by slugs or other things.

This year I have seen the most amazing Fly Agaric in various stages from young to mature and these examples are worth sharing.

First here is a description.  Cap up to 20 cm in diameter, bright scarlet and covered with white warts that can initially appear pale lemon.  These warts can be absent as they can get washed off by the rain.  The gills are white and the stem is also white being up to 20 cm tall.  The stem has a large, loose pendulous ring and the base is bulbous and has ridges.  It is very common and can be found late Summer to Autumn amongst birch trees.  It is poisonous.

This photograph showing a young example with the scarlet cap just beginning to be visible

This photograph showing a semi-mature example

This photograph showing a mature example
This photograph showing the pendulous ring

This photograph showing the bulbous base with the ridges

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Book Launch - Field Guide to the Mushrooms of Britain and Europe. New Holland

Book Launch  - Field Guide to the Mushrooms of Britain and Europe.  Alison Linton. New Holland

Attenborough Nature Centre, Nottinghamshire, UK October 22nd/23rd October 2016

A different sort of weekend for me.  I'm used to being outdoors in woods or pastures in the countryside looking for fungi.

This past weekend was very different indeed and very enjoyable.  Attenborough Nature Centre, Attenborough, Nottinghamshire, UK, most kindly hosted a two-day book launch of the new field guide written by myself entitled Field Guide to the Mushrooms of Britain and Europe published by New Holland.  This book is aimed at beginners to the subject of mushrooms.  

Attenborough Nature Centre is a very popular Eco Visitor Centre within Attenborough Nature Reserve.  I was looked after very well as you can see from the photograph above.
I met lots of lovely and interesting people and it was simply great to talk to people who also find mushrooms fascinating, beautiful, and wish to start the journey of learning about them.

Below is a small video of the Book Launch should you wish to take a look.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Mushrooms Attenborough Nature Centre, Nottinghamshire, UK, Notts. TV

Mushrooms Attenborough Nature Centre, Nottinghamshire, UK

Last week I had the fabulous opportunity of taking part in a mushroom walk at Attenborough Nature Centre, Nottinghamshire whilst being filmed by Notts TV.  This was a very steep learning curve for me but a very memorable experience.  The TV journalist Owen Shipton and his assistant Stephanie were wonderful.

If you wish to see the little film the link is below:

This was superb timing as last week on the 9th October 2016 it was National Fungus Day.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Geastrum striatum

Geastrum striatum- Striate Earthstar

This  Earthstar is not easy to spot as it is tiny and blends into the soil; is well hidden in hedgerows near tree stumps.  I first came across it last year and took the photograph below.

It is very tiny being only approximately 6 cm in diameter at maturity from tip to tip of the rays.
The bulb is dull grey with a beak-like apex.  The rays are coarse, scaly and brownish-grey.  There may be between six and nine.  It is mostly solitary but can also be seen in small groups.  It can be found in soil amongst leaf litter near broadleaf or conifer trees and in hedgerows. Rather rare.

I returned to the same site again this week and found it again.  This time I had a nice surprise.
I lifted up the mature specimen as it was getting past its best and underneath this tiny structure was an even smaller structure, being symbolically shielded - a tiny immature example.
Photograph below.  This young one is so immature that the beak-like structure has not fully developed and the rays have not yet started to fully split.

Also is a photograph of the beak-like structure in a mature example.

And finally a photograph of the underside showing the collar like structure.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Lycogala terrestre

Lycogala terrestre  

Another post about slime moulds (Myxomycetes).

The Lycogala terrestre is a slime mould that I've encountered only twice in the past decade even though it is classed as 'frequent'. It grows on dead and rotten wood in general.  It is small, has a spongy texture, and has a sheen.  When young it is either bright pink or orange but at maturity it pales and turns more pallid brown or even grey.
It is more easily missed then, as it blends into the structure of the bark.

Dimensions: 0.5-1.5 cm diameter. At maturity the outer surface breaks down like puff balls and emits powder like spores  from an apical pore or a crack might split open. It can be seen mostly all year round. The spores can be pink, salmon or yellow.

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.

Showing the whole fungus

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.

Tuesday 12 January 2016

A Hymn to Fungal Foray

Recently a friend of mine, Dave Wood, a writer, presented me with a hymn that he'd been inspired to write after a fungus foray.  In actual fact, he sang it to me to the tune of a hymn - it moved me so much I asked him to send me the words and here they are!

I thought this posting would make a nice change from my usual informative style of writing.  Fungi are well worthy of a hymn in praise I think!

a hymn to fungal foray - geastrum schmidelii  (dwarf earthstar fungus)
(Cloud Mist – Derbyshire)

out the mud the caps come peeping
winter's breath that's deep and seeping
trail of fungus goes on creeping
up towards the clouds spun grey

see from dirt such beauty grows
hunting in the highs and lows
we are gatherers in the rows
eyes in wonder at the spoils

boxes - baskets - palms and fingers
stepping on then stop to linger
nettles stabbing as we find 

another plus to our foray

here's our earthstar - all eyes flicker
pickers ramblers - hearts and tickers
orange blues and browns from pickers
gathered round as if to pray

all is laid out flat before us
delicate and soft (luxurious)
here's to stalking hands that curious
hunt the gold that's grown in clay

copyright Dave Wood

Nottinghamshire writer, Dave Wood, creates poems to commission for all kinds of life experiences.  He produced  'A Hymn to Fungal Foray' as a response to a mushroom hunt by a local Nottinghamshire nature group.  Examples of his work can be seen at