Monday, 31 July 2017

Ambersham delights

I was at Ambersham Common on Sunday for the Heathlands Reunited Bioblitz event, organised by the South Downs National Park Authority.

Ambersham Common is one of the important heathland sites in the South Downs National Park. As well as great expanses of heather, which were putting on an impressive show this weekend, it also includes areas of birch woodland and conifer plantation.

After the recent rain, mushrooms were popping up all over the place – looking fabulous.


I think this one, with its tan-coloured cap, stripy edge to the cap ('striate margin') and bag-like volva at the base of the stipe, is Tawny Grisette Amanita fulva.


This photo shows cap colour and striate margin quite nicely.


It really is an elegant looking thing...


... quite coquettish. So much so, I think it deserves to enter the canon of "draw me like one of your french girls" memes. Those gills! That stipe!


Apparently (according to wikipedia), the word "grisette" was commonly used in the 19th century to refer to a French working-class woman and in 1835 was defined in one of the French dictionaries as: 

"a young working woman who is coquettish and flirtatious."

So the meme is more apt than I'd realised. Ha!

In an area of birch and conifer woodland nearby I spotted the crusty cap of another Amanita.


Here it is up close.



It had a pendulous and striate ring around the stipe.


I have convinced myself the flesh turned slightly pink when damaged. It also didn't smell of radishes (a feature of the similar-looking Grey-spotted Amanita A. excelsa var. spissa). I think this makes my mushroom The Blusher Amanita rubescens.

That particular mushroom was growing singly but, along one of the rides at the edge of the Common, we also came across this group growing together. I think these were also The Blusher Amanita rubescens.


Down the slope, in another area of conifer woodland, I was delighted to come across this bright pink slime mould, growing on a rotting conifer log.


It was very helpfully showing off both its amorphous pink plasmodial form (shiny blob at the top), and its pink 'pseudoaethalium' – the densely clustered group of spore-producing structures called sporangia.

In this photo you can see the sporangia are shaped like lots of tiny sausages, sitting on top of a layer of white gunk called the hypothallus.


Looking downwards on the fruit body (as in the top photograph) you just see the tips of the sausage-shaped sporangia, looking a bit like a raspberry.

All these features are a good match for Red Raspberry Slime Tubifera ferruginosa. Bruce Ing, in his book The Myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland, notes "there are no other species to confuse with this in the British Isles; it can be identified as soon as it emerges from the wood." So I think I can be reasonably confident in this identification.

Growing on another rotting conifer log, I found these pale yellow blobs. They looked too misshapen to be Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea, which I've seen in a few places recently.


Looks like it might be Pale Stagshorn Calocera pallidospathulata, which the Collins (photographic) Guide says grows on the decayed wood of conifers.

Another interesting find for me was this bracket fungus growing on birch stumps.


When my friend Laurie pointed this out to me, I just caught a glimpse of some fairly flat semi-circular brackets with concentric rings of colour and gave her my stock response for moments such as these: "I think it's Turkeytail."


But something made me take a closer look, and what I found on the underside took me completely by surprise.


Gills! It seems Laurie had found Birch Mazegill Lenzites betulinus. Another new species for me.

For the record
Date: 30/07/2017
Location: Ambersham Common and surrounding woodland
Grid reference: SU9119 

A lurid bolete


I got some help from the folk on the British Mycological Society Facebook page in order to identify this bolete I found at Woods Mill on Saturday, growing in a scrubby area at the edge of Hoe Wood.

Cap is yellow-y brown; discolouring red where it's been damaged.


Tubes remain whole when split. And there's a distinct red line above the pores: this is significant!


As with many bolete mushrooms, the flesh turns (slightly) blue when cut and the pores turn deep blue when bruised.


The stem is covered in a coarse and elongate network pattern.


I'm grateful to Slavko Pavlović, Antony Burnham and Geoffrey Kibby for explaining that these features particularly the coarse network on the stem and that red line make this mushroom a Lurid Bolete Suillellus luridus.

For the record
Date: 29 July 2017
Location: Woods Mill (edge of Hoe Wood)  
Grid ref: TQ217136 

Saturday, 29 July 2017

In the summer rain

Couldn't let another rainy summer day pass by without a quick mooch around in the woods, to see what's about.

There were absolutely masses of these growing in patches in Hoe Wood, a mixed deciduous woodland of mostly oak and hazel.


Wherever I found them, they'd always be growing in groups.

Most were fairly mature, with flattened caps and a wavy margin. They all showed this pale margin, around the tan-coloured cap.


But I did find a few young ones, with waxy-looking rounded caps.




The stems were a pale tan colour, through to cream at the top.


The gills were crowded and a pale cream colour, with perhaps a hint of apricot.



Their connection to the cap looks like this (somewhere between 'adnexed' and 'free'?):


They seem like a good match for Russet Toughshank Gymnopus dryophilus. However, I've read on the First Nature website that "several other less common 'toughshanks' have pale tan-to-buff caps", so I perhaps shouldn't posit a definitive identification without checking microscopic features.

I also came across this rather elegant-looking funnel Clitocybe sp., with another slightly more slug-eaten specimen growing nearby.



I haven't come across many Clitocybe mushrooms before, and not sure how to go about getting an ID on this one.

There were also loads of these in Hoe Wood:


There are a couple of species which look like this:
  • Horsehair Parachute Gymnopus androsaceus
  • Collared Parachute Marasmius rotula
You need to look at how the gills are attached to tell the two apart, which I forgot to do.

And finally some mushrooms I am familiar with more Spindle Toughshank Gymnopus fusipes growing at the base of one of the oak trees.


Interesting that I've seen relatively few of these in Hoe Wood this year, after seeing LOADS last year (photos here).

For the record
Date: 29/07/2017
Location: Hoe Wood, Small Dole [private site]
Grid reference: TQ2113

Found near Frant

Lots of mushrooms popping up at the moment, amidst all this rain. Saw some beauties near Frant, East Sussex, last weekend around Eridge Old Park and Whitehill Wood.

I've been fancying doing this walk for a while, ever since I read about it in that fabulous publication: The Butterflies of Sussex.

This bolete was a new one for me.


It quickly turned a striking shade of blue, upon being cut...


... in the stem, as well as the cap.


And underneath the cap: SCARLET pores.


Using the key in Geoffrey Kibby's British Boletes, I make this one Scarletina Bolete Neoboletus luridiformis a fairly common species. But what a stunner.

Next to the footpath that runs along the northern edge of Eridge Old Park, I spotted this mushroom sprouting out from a rotting log...


... providing food and shelter to this rather handsome slug.


I thought it was probably a Deer Shield Pluteus cervinus, so took a small section of the cap to check for the 'horned cystidia' which are characteristic of this species.

Here is a shot of one of those 'horned cystidia' under the microscope. I think this confirms it as Deer Shield Pluteus cervinus.
 
Mounted in water. 400x magnification.


Nearby we spotted this stunning slime mould crawling over a pile of rotting wood. I think this is White Coral Slime Mould Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa.


A little further along I came across this lanky thing, growing up through the grass as the side of the path. Hard to believe such a slender stem can support that broad cap.
 

It's a little difficult to make out from this quick snap, but the cap is rather wrinkled; like the skin is slightly too big for the cap. The wrinkles are distributed radially: spreading out from the centre like spokes on a wheel.


Underneath, it has rather distant white gills.


I think it's probably Rooting Shank Xerula radicata. I did contemplate digging it up to see if it had the characteristic long rooted stem. But it looked so pretty I decided to leave it.

A big fallen Beech was hosting a large crop of oyster mushrooms Pleurotus sp.


Reflecting on Ted Tuddenham's advice following my Pleurotus find the other week, it's probably the Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus. But P. ostreatus, and the complex of species around it, can be very variable and microscopy is often required to be sure. So I think I'll stick with Pleurotus sp. to be on the safe side.

In Whitehill Wood, I passed more dead and blackened remains of Spindle Toughshank Collybia (Gymnopus) fusipes, popping up around the roots of the oak trees – like I'd seen in Frith Wood the week before. But there was also this fresh cluster emerging.


A pile of decaying Beech logs produced a few other species.

I think this is Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea.


This got me stumped:

Fruit bodies growing out of the cut end of a large Beech log.
One of the fruit bodies: upper side.
One of the fruit bodies: underside
My best guess is a Polyporus species of some kind, but it doesn't seem to match up with any of the species illustrated in my field guides.

For the record
Date: 23/07/2017
Location: Eridge Old Park and Whitehill Wood near Frant, East Sussex
Grid reference: TQ5835 (N. luridiformis, C. fusipes); TQ5734 (P. cervinus, C. fruticulosa, X. radicata?, Pleurotus sp.); TQ583350 (C. cornea, Polyporus sp.)


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Little Brown Job

Found this little brown mushroom growing up through leaflitter in Hoe Wood, West Sussex. It's a mixed deciduous woodland of oak and hazel, with a bit of hawthorn scrub and other woodland plants.

Squares are each 5mm.
The mushroom has a fibrous, hollow stem; brown cap and pink-ish gills.


It produced a pinky-brown spore print. Here are the spores at 100x magnification.


I'm reasonably confident this narrows things down to the genus Entoloma. That might be as far as I'm going to get with this one.

For the record
Date: 21/07/2017
Location: Hoe Wood, Small Dole [private site]
Grid reference: TQ2113