I’ve been finding a lot of fungi recently on the bottoms of the dead stalks of last year’s umbellifers. They’re all exceedingly small and difficult to identify (which I find rather frustrating) but also rather gorgeous (which is why I have so far kept looking for them). This is one I was able to identify with help from my fungi friends and associates and a little microscope work. Its current name is Belonidium mollissimum (but it’s had a long list of other names – fungi keep being re-classified and renamed as researchers examine them and their DNA more carefully!) and the largest of its cups is just 1mm wide. This is a series of photos taken over the past two weeks to show how this tiny fungus has changed in that time.
There are 22 species of fungi called disco, according to the British Mycological Society’s list of English Names for Fungi 2016, and they have some delightful names, mostly referring to what they grow on, I think: Larch, Conifer, Larch canker, Rush, Heath sedge, Mast, Juniper, Fir and, my personal favourite, Hairy Nuts Disco!
So far I’ve only found two. My excuse is that they’re tiny, only a few millimetres across, so they’re difficult to spot, and many are quite rare. This first one is probably Lemon Disco (Bisporella citrina), and is actually one of the more common discos. It’s a wood-rotter that can be found growing – often in the thousands – on decaying deciduous trees, particularly oak.
This second fungus may be Snowy disco (Lachnum virgineum) – like so many fungi, it requires microscopic examination for a definite ID, and I haven’t reached that level in my mycological evolution … yet! Snowy disco also grows on dead and decaying wood, and is said to be frequent, though I’ve only found it once in 18 months of foraying.
Considering I am exceedingly short-sighted, I am amazed at how many exceedingly tiny fungi I have been finding lately. More on those soon but today I want to share a rare one I found in one of my local Cardiff parks last week. In fact, my find is only the second record for Wales and was the first record in Wales in 42 years and 3 days. As Kew mycologist Brian Douglas wrote, ‘it’s not bad coming second to Derek Reid, ex-head of Kew Mycology’. Needless to say, I’m delighted, though I suspect this fungus is under-recorded rather than as rare as those statistics make it sound!
Diplocarpa bloxamii (no common name) is an ascomycete, a cup fungus, with an olive-black disc-shaped cup growing on a short stem. The external surface of the cup is pustulate (think coarse pimples, without the actual pus) and it has light brown hairs sprouting both from the pustules and around the edge of the cup, which is much lighter, almost beige, in colour. The cups are tiny – no more than 5mm across – I actually had my glasses off and my face about 15cms from the decaying piece of log, looking at something else, when I spotted them.
Of course, I had no idea what they were but took some macro photos to post that evening on Facebook. Luckily, Brian Douglas spotted my post, alerted me to what they might be, sent me some literature, and had me heading back to the woods the next day for a sample. Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack! Fortunately, I’ve been training myself to remember where I spot things so that I can later record my findings, so I found them again quite quickly.
I am very grateful to Brian for his help in determining the identity of my little fungi and to Amy Hicks, of SEWBReC, who very kindly undertook the microscope work needed to confirm their ID and provided me with the stunning photographs (above) that resulted from her work.