Fluttering at me from a log in the woodland … well, not really, but you get the picture. It’s always a delight to spot one of the Eyelashes, the Scutellinia species of fungi.
It’s #FungiFriday, and even the earthballs are smiling!
Though there are several species of earthball fungi in Britain, I’m fairly sure these are Common earthballs (Scleroderma citrinum), as they were found in the typical habitat of ‘acid soils with deciduous trees, usually Oak, Beech or birches’ (Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms & Toadstools, p.278).
This glorious cascade of brackets was a delightful surprise during a recent woodland meander.
This is the wonderfully named Chicken-of-the-woods (Laetiporus sulphurous), which apparently tastes like chicken, hence the name. However, as Pat O’Reilly writes in Fascinated by Fungi: ‘Young caps taste rather like chicken; old ones taste more like the wood!’ and ‘Never eat Chicken of the Woods gathered from Yews’ because, of course, almost every part of the Yew is poisonous.
I’ve only seen these bright yellow-and-orange brackets growing on Oak, though they can also be found on Beech and Sweet chestnut as well as Yew. They are large, growing up to 40cm across, with a velvety upper surface and pores below.
I used to love finding waxcaps in the grounds of my local cemetery when I lived in Cardiff but hardly see any in my current area. So, it was a delight to spot these Persistent waxcaps (Hygrocybe acutoconica) in one of the paddocks at Cosmeston earlier this week.
Their caps range in shade from yellow to orange and, though initially moist like most waxcaps, they soon dry out and often crack as they expand, especially when growing in an exposed location. The caps start off conical (hence the epithet acutoconica), which means these fungi can sometimes be confused with other species like the Blackening waxcap (Hygrocybe conica), but these Persistent caps don’t blacken.
The gills and stem of this fungus also range in colour from yellow to orange, and the stem sometimes looks grooved and fibrous.
Persistent waxcaps are most often found in unfertilised grasslands, particularly on calcareous soils, and can also pop up on sandy soils and even amongst sand dunes.
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? A couple of months ago I found this small bit of wood with tell-tale green colouring so secreted it in a damp place in the woodland.
When I checked it yesterday, result! These are Green elfcups, still tiny but hopefully there will be more next time I look as they usually fruit in the autumn.
King Alfred’s been back in the kitchen but a Great British Bake Off winner he is not. His cakes, otherwise known as Daldinia concentrica, even when you can peek inside their blackened exteriors, never look palatable. With these I found in the woods this week though, Alfred has certainly produced some creative shapes.
And, even if inedible, they are sturdy enough to provide a home to tiny creatures, in this case a woodlouse and a springtail.
Though I haven’t been able to verify its identification, I’m fairly sure today’s fungus is Phellinus pomaceus.
It’s a hard, woody bracket fungus that grows on Prunus tree species – in this case, it’s growing on Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa).
The NBN (National Biodiversity Network Trust) Atlas entry for this species (which also includes a map showing where in Britain the fungus has been recorded) says ‘It is not aggressively pathogenic but can cause considerable decay in trees suffering from other stress factors’, so you wouldn’t want to find it in a commercial fruit orchard. In my case, the fungi were only showing on two adjacent trees in a large copse of Blackthorn, and the trees looked quite elderly, so I don’t think it’s causing a problem.
I was almost home from today’s 7-mile walk when I spotted the subject of this post, lots of pink gall-like bumps on the leaves of a group of plants I quickly realised were Nipplewort (Lapsana communis).
And that clinched the identification of the bumps, especially when I turned a leaf over and spotted the little yellow dots. These are the aecia, cup-shaped structures in which aeciospores are produced. (And, as you can see, this particular leaf was also home to a tiny spider.)
These Nipplewort plants were absolutely covered in rust fungi, Nipplewort Rust (Puccinia lapsanae), a rust I’ve seen before but never in such quantity.
I can never go past Turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor) without checking out their wonderful rings of colour.
These are neither as vibrant nor as varied as some I’ve seen but there is a hint of blue in one of those outer bands that doesn’t really show up well in my photos, as the light was very dull this day. I figured they were still worth sharing for Fungi Friday.
In Britain, the fungi with the tongue-twisting scientific name Gloeophyllum sepiarium are known as Conifer mazegills, while in North America their common name is Rusty-gilled polypore. I blogged about these same fungi, on a wooden railing on the local coastal path, two years ago (see Conifer mazegill, February 2019) but I couldn’t find them last year, mostly because the railing was too overgrown with bramble and ivy.
This year the contractors responsible for managing the vegetation along the path have been more ruthless in their cutting and strimming, and so the fungi have once again made an appearance. In 2019, the specimens I saw were very young and hadn’t developed their characteristic bracket-like structure so I thought it was worth posting about them again to show how marked the difference is.