It would be fair to say that my fungi-finding year was fairly dismal: only about 20 of this year’s 366 blog posts were about fungi. The highlight, though, was brilliant – the vibrant, intense, almost unreal blue of the Cobalt crust (Terana caerulea) that I posted about earlier this month, in Not just any stick. I haven’t yet been back for a second look at it – I’ve been saving that for a New Year treat!
Do you see the small stick sitting on top of the big fallen branch, in the centre left of the photo? Well, that stick was the absolute highlight of my seven-and-a-half-mile walk yesterday.
And below you can see why. This is the fungus Cobalt crust (Terana caerulea), an incredible colour to find growing on a stick in the middle of a now mostly brown woodland.
This is the first time I’ve found Cobalt crust locally and I was/am just so excited to see it. I might just have to go back next week for another look (and, also, to get photos of the red elfcups that were just beginning to appear nearby).
My fellow Glamorgan Fungus Group members and I are taking part in another challenge this month, hunting far and wide within the county to see how many specimens we can find of the supposedly rare Cobalt crust fungus (Terana caerulea). You may remember that I blogged about this special, once-seen-never-forgotten fungus back in February. It’s generally classified as rare but, here in Glamorgan, it most certainly isn’t.
Here are the latest stats: for the 14 days from 13 to 26 January inclusive, 14 of our group had made a total of 45 separate finds on 16 different host plants, ranging from elder, bramble and buddleja to hazel, oak, ivy and even Japanese knotweed. Our results just go to show that this fungus is not actually rare but rather rarely recorded, and our participation in challenges like these also highlights the benefits of ordinary folk like you and I making the effort to record the biodiversity we see around us every day. We’re helping to rewrite science!
Although this stunning fungus is apparently found in my native New Zealand – as well as in much of Europe, North America and some countries in Asia, I had never seen it until a few weeks ago. This is the appropriately named Cobalt crust (Terana caerulea), a fungus many books and websites report as a rare sight in England and Wales yet many of my fungi friends have seen it. We assume it is not actually rare but rather rarely reported or, perhaps, not recognised, as it is often to be found lurking on the undersides of fallen branches and dead trees, and it turns almost black when past its best.
When it’s young and fresh, its vibrant cobalt colour is instantly recognisable and a real highlight of any woodland wander. With a soft, almost waxy feel when moist, it’s no wonder it’s been described as ‘blue velvet on a stick’. As its name implies, this fungus is a member of the corticiord group of fungi – that’s crust fungi in layman’s terms, a fungus that adheres to something, rather than growing on a stem like a normal mushroom.