Here’s a teeny tiny bonnet mushroom for this week’s #FungiFriday, about the right size for a fairy to wear, one of those miniscule Mycena species you find growing amongst the moss on a tree in a damp woodland.
I initially thought these were a type of funnel fungi, one of the several Clitocybe species perhaps but, as I’m only too well aware that I’ve forgotten most of what I ever knew – never much – about fungi identification, I consulted an expert, Emma [@Coalspoilfungi on Twitter]. Turns out I was wrong – no surprise there!
These are Brown rollrims (Paxillus involutus) and they were massive, the biggest at least 12 inches across. They were growing on a grassy verge, next to a very busy local road. Emma told me: ‘They would have been viscid when wet, but when dry, [are] the texture of silky soft pig leather. Gills, cap and stem bruise easily deep red /orange to dark brown / Blackening slowly.’ Fungi are just so fascinating!
As you can see, the Dusky puffball (Lycoperdon nigrescens) is very similar to the Common puffball but its skin is darker. Specimens are primarily found in coniferous woodland (mine was fruiting in a section of a local cemetery planted with various species of conifer), though these flexible puffballs can also be found growing amongst the dunes at the seaside and in the acid soils of heathland. According to Pat O’Reilly in his book Fascinated by Fungi, these fungi emit ‘an unpleasant gassy smell’ when their flesh is cut. I didn’t check!
‘Tis All Hallows’ Eve and deep in the wood, dead men are stirring, getting ready to rise up out of the earth …
What could be more appropriate for Halloween than these Dead man’s fingers (Xylaria polymorpha), perfectly innocent, always spooky looking.
Two slugs in one week – what were the chances? But when I glimpsed this gorgeous Pink waxcap (also known as the Ballerina waxcap) (Hygrocybe calyptriformis) almost hidden in a small grassy hollow and gently smoothed back the grass around it to take my photo, I found this Large red slug nestled alongside. If a slug could smile, this one would be grinning from ear to ear, and I imagine the waxcap had mostly been consumed by the next morning.
Lemon Disco (Bisporella citrina) – I used probably in the title because I can’t confirm that identification microscopically – is one of the most common discos. And, at this time of the year, when the daylight hours are shortening and the weather can be wet and grey, it’s a delight to find these bright bursts of yellow, sometimes in their thousands, during a woodland wander.
They might look sturdy but these Shaggy inkcaps (Coprinus comatus) from yesterday’s walk would probably be gone if I had walked this way again today. You can see the taller one in the centre has already turned to mush, in the process producing a black ink that some people use for their artworks (see, for example, this work by Jo Brown, who creates amazing art inspired by fungi, and the rest of the natural world).
Yesterday saw me back on my old stomping grounds in north Cardiff and along the way I popped in briefly to the new section of Cathays Cemetery. Although both the old and new sections of this huge cemetery are recognised hotspots for fungi and enjoy SSSI designation, the council chooses to ignore recommendations for the site’s management and so I have noted that with each passing year the quantity and diversity of fungi has declined. Though I didn’t linger long yesterday (it’s depressing to see the sparsity where once there was abundance), I did manage to find a single Parrot waxcap, saved from the strimmer’s plastic blade by its location between two old gravestones, stunning in its solitary beauty. If only this Parrot could scream ‘Save us!’ … but would anyone be listening?
p.s. I have previously approached the council about their management of these places but, as is typical when I try to communicate reasonably with the various local authorities, their responses contain mostly excuses for their actions. They will not listen to the Parrot!