But I wonder what it is? Just really wanted to share this little cutie I found tonight! It has the teeniest weeniest gills that I saw only with the hand lens. Growing on moss on a Castanea sativa.
My evening routine goes something along the lines of: bath Oscar and put him to bed, wash dishes, do any other chores that need doing, walk the dogs round the arboretum (and find and admire fungi to photograph and look at), bounce on my trampoline (yes I really do bounce up and down like a crazy lady to try and lose weight). And wash. And sleep. Although come October I will be studying again so less posts from me… and perhaps less bouncing.
So tonight when I walked the dogs and looked at fungi I felt a bit annoyed that I didn’t take my camera, and that my phone had died. I couldn’t take any fungi photos! But I did see this amazing little chap you see above! I wonder what it is??
I also saw lots of russula, (still haven’t a clue which species they all are), lots of Agaricus xanthodermus, (love the smell of those simple but wonderful yellow stainers!) Boletus sp., the humble beginnings of Laetiporus sulphureus, freshly fruiting Meripilus giganteus, and lots more freshly kicked mushrooms. Yes, freshly kicked. It’s a tourist attraction and it’s the school holidays. Hey it’s prime time to destroy the nature around you! People seem to find joy in smashing the granny out of fungi like it is nothing. I get rather emotional about that. I mean there was smooshed ‘shrooms everywhere this evening. Why?! Parents of Kew- don’t let your kids do it! And stop letting them chase geese and stressing the wildlife out! Set an example dammit!
I am literally just beginning my Russula identification journey. They are extremely variable and notoriously difficult to identify. I’m not gonnna lie- I’m struggling with these right now but I won’t give up! Along with Boletes, I now intend to learn a lot more about them, and since both are flourishing out there at the moment, I figured now would be a good time to start.
You may remember me posting a photo here and on the twitter a couple of days ago; the most gorgeous violet-coloured russula. Coincidentally, only yesterday I saw that Andy (Overall) posted the most stunning image of Russula brunneoviolacea and I thought, hey, there’s my fungus! Mine was beneath an Oak species in Kew’s oak collection. It’s steely shade of purple was just identical to his. There were no yellow tones on it, just deep gorgeous violet and I have seen all sorts of colours cropping up everywhere but I hadn’t seen this one before. We came to the conclusion it is likely to be the same species then, which is really nice! There were only two of them fruiting when I saw them so I left them be. ‘Perhaps I would find more?’ I thought…
So today, one of the tasks I set myself was to go find it. Then I could inspect it again properly for myself! But, it’s piddling down out there, I mean torrential, really quite miserable weather. So, out we went.
The day started with the food shop delivery and then another knock at the door- one of Kevin’s colleagues hand-delivering me a stick adorned with lichen and fungi. Some sort of Polypore. Obviously, I was delighted and that set me up for the day!
Then off out: a stint in the soft-play area first thing, consequently leading to a meltdown over diggers (don’t ask), and a full on sit-down protest tantrum (brilliant), we hurried over to the cafe (it was freezing in there, I could see my breath and everything) for a quick snack and coffee. Everything was calm for all of five minutes. But then Meltdown re-commenced (he’s teething) and nothing was doing much good so the coffee was hastily drunk, leading to burnt tastebuds. Hooray. But like the true fungi-fan (nutjob) that I am, we trundled off out again in the rain, and off to have a quick ganders at the Oak collection.
(Do any other mums with their toddlers get out and do this? Because sometimes I get strange looks. For the life of me I don’t know why. I have been meaning to ask for a while now. I mean, I know I’m not really normal, and I could be alone in all this, but really? Does this relate to any other mums out there?)
We arrived at the Oak area and I tried to recall the exact location I found them, but alas, when I returned, the two deep violet russula weren’t anywhere to be seen. So that was a bit sad. I did find others though…
I carefully picked up just three (a bolete and two russula) of the many fruitbodies that we found. Honestly, there is so much out there on the ground, and so much variety. All different colours and shades of russula, (who’d have thought the word means ‘red’?!) and plenty of Boletes.
Mister bolete here- he has a very sticky cap! No reddening of the flesh and a very faint blue tinge occurred only after around 10 secs after cutting the tube layer.
Russula– caps also sticky from this rain! Firm, white flesh on both of these. Typical umbolated cap, and brittle gills on them too, (I say typical, although Russula cyanoxantha, the Charcoal burner, does not have the trademark brittle gills of this genus, but gills that are soft and flexible, making it identifiable from most other Russula). I have since learned, that most Russula are edible and that the best way to identify them is to taste them. Some are very bitter or hot. However, I haven’t done this yet and I did not do this today. I was not sitting in the piddling rain nibbling on gills. Today is just not that day.
By this point I was pretty saturated. I had soggy toes because I chose to wear trainers and, well, they weren’t very waterproof. (Can’t stand wet feet). Lovely waterproof jacket on, though. Great jacket. Lightweight for the milder weather too. But does it cover the bum area? No it does not. So what happens? Water runs straight off said waterproof on to my thighs at the front and also my backside. A soggy bottom is never attractive nor comfortable, hence I thought it was high time to head home…
The rest of our day will mostly be spent staying dry and making chocolate cornflake crispies…
Hmmm… did you find anything wonderful out there in the rain today? And did you wear weather-appropriate clothing? Do share!
L -x NB. I am still currently in the process of trying to identify these! There are often specific tests and lots of experience is required to certainly identify russula. Do shout if you have some ideas! I don’t have a key or details of every species of russula and bolete… but I have purchased this beauty! So when it arrives I will be making a start on keying out some Boletes. Watch this space!
I always photograph the fungi I find! And they’re always a pleasure to photograph. Here’s a few photos of some fungi from today and from this evening in the gardens here in Kew 🙂
So this bunch of cauliflower growing on some mulch is actually a type of Coral/Clavarioid fungi. I feel it is one of the Ramaria species when I checked it out, but I’m afraid I don’t know exactly which one! I have never seen this before. So if any of you are experienced with these then do shout! I took a small piece to photograph and it smelt very strongly of mushroom! (Hope that makes sense)… so definitely not cauliflower then…
An update to this as follows: confirmed by Andy Overall via twitter as Clavulina coralloides. Thank you Andy.
An absolutely gorgeous Amanita rubescens (Blusher), and a smaller one being actively munched!
A stunning shade of purple/red on this Russula. I am still learning about Russula species. They’re a little complex. Russula, or Brittle gill fungi, (because their gills are very brittle if you run a finger gently across them) are characteristically brightly coloured. The word ‘russula’ is derived from the Latin word ‘russus’ meaning ‘red’. However, the caps are most certainly not always red! They come in all sorts of colours from grey, green and yellow to different shades of reds and purples too. Needless to say, I have a lot to learn about these little beauties!
Wet mushrooms! And wet dogs too!
We got a bit soggy out there this evening… it has been a rather wet one walking the dogs, and then for some obscure reason, (squirrel related I think) they decided to bolt on me once back at the front door… cue me stood in the dark and in the piddling rain waiting for them as they took their own sweet time to come back. Thanks girls!
Have you spotted some lovely fungi that you have photographed today? Let me know!
These are a sight for sore eyes! These splendid Shaggy Parasols are just EVERYWHERE in Kew at the moment and you may well have spotted them around you locally as well. They are enjoying summer. Yep, even throughout the scorching weather that we had not so long ago, (has summer finished?) they were there beneath the Cedrus atlantica by Kew’s Victoria Gate entrance, and are still enjoying it there now. Now, after the downpours and mild weather, they are thriving even more so.
I figured as they are clearly loving life at the moment, I would do a little post about them.
I give you Chloropyhllum rhacodes or the ‘Shaggy Parasol’. It’s a thing of beauty!
In Kew, there are lots of things currently fruiting. From various Boletes and Russula, to plenty of ink caps and Agaricus xanthodermus (love those!) I even spotted lots of Earthballs the other evening. But this particular scaly treasure is popping up all over the place at the moment. I tend to find they are enjoying the pits beneath the Pinus species; lots of pine needle litter for them. This saprobic species loves woodland areas and dislikes open fields like meadows and pastures.
What’s in a name?
The taxonomy of the species has changed fairly recently. A binomial name once fondly known as Macrolepiota rhacodes (Vittad.) Singer., it has now changed, and as with lots of things in the natural world, DNA analysis and all this phylogenetic testing has placed it into a new genus, Chlorophyllum. On a little research here and there (this next part I have adapted/referenced from First-nature.com), I have learned that Chlorophyllum means ‘with green gills’. This refers to a poisonous species of mushroom with green-gills called Chlorophyllum molybdites– one that is generally found in N.America. However, the species in the genus all have white spores. Rhacodes stems from the Greek word ‘rhakos’ meaning ‘rag’ but then this is a mushroom of shaggy appearance so it makes sense! It is sometimes spelt as ‘rachodes’ because the term was Latinised to ‘rachos’. Synonyms include Lepiota rhacodes or Macrolepiota rhacodes. It is worth noting that Macrolepiota procera, the popular edible Parasol, stayed put.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Macrolepiota procera is a little similar but is much larger and more impressive in size than C. rhacodes. It very clearly also has a much darker, snakeskin like patterning on the stipe which C. rhacodes lacks. The stipe stands very tall and amazingly straight (the strength and expansion of fungi never cease to amaze me!) and the ring is thick, large and placed quite high up on the stipe. I saw many Parasol fungi in Richmond Park just today, and wow are they tall and striking. Poking their heads way above the ferns! Oscar thought they were big flowers! I am still trying to encourage him to say ‘fungi’ or ‘mushroom’…
Below: Parasol Mushroom. You can see the difference in staggering height, and patterned stem! My pen doesn’t even reach the ring on the stipe…
For your reference, this next paragraph has been directly taken from First-nature.com: Described under the name Agaricus rhacodes by Carlo Vittadini (1800 – 1865) in 1835, this large and stocky mushroom has since spent time in the general Lepiota and Macrolepiota until, in 2002, DNA study by Else C Vellinga of the University of California justified its transportation to the genus Chlorophyllum. Common synonyms of Chlorophyllumrhacodes include Agaricus rhacodes Vittad., Lepiota rhacodes (Vittad.) Quél., Lepiota proceravar. rhacodes (Vittad.) Massee, Macrolepiota rhacodes (Vittad.) Singer, and Macrolepiota venenata Bon.
Visually, the cap expands from a ‘bun’ shape and becomes more convex. It is white and adorned with coarse, brown scales. Really rather beautiful 🙂
The stem is white, although not pure white; it is slightly tinged with red-brown, and it rises eccentrically from a large bulbous base, and not a volva. Always ensure you remove a mushroom from the ground with care, as opposed to pulling and snapping it at the stem to be sure you don’t miss an important identification factor such as a bulbous base! Or a volva (the sac or ‘egg’ that some fungi emerge from).
Below: Checking the gill appaearance, colour and placement. The gills of C. rhacodes are crowded and free from the stem. You can see the double ring there too. Also measure the specimen. You can see how much stouter they are compared to the ‘original’ Parasol Mushroom.
Shaggy here also has a movable, white double ring which are the remains of a partial veil, and the ring is the same colour as the stem. The scent it has is not at all unpleasant- just a general ‘mushroom’ scent one might say (very original of me). I wouldn’t choose to eat it though; there have also been cases of extreme illness have been known to occur although other sources have stated it is safe to eat. Basically, it’s probably best to avoid it I think!
A red alert:
A huge identification feature of this species is the fact that the gills and the stem flesh quickly turn red in colour when it is cut and exposed. As you can see in my image below, when I cut some of the stem flesh, it quickly turned a bright saffron-red hue. (Or should the word be maroon? I have been pondering over the vintage colour chart of fungi that was recently gifted to me). Basically, it turns a red colour. The same happens to the gills or cap when they are cut or damaged. It then turns a dirty brown colour as time goes on after bruising has occurred.
Tell me spore…
The gills of this fungi are super soft, whitish-cream in colour, very crowded and are free, meaning they are not actually attached to the stem. I did a spore print on half-white, half-black paper/card which shows whitish-cream coloured spores and these are microscopically ellipsoid, or pear-shaped. Agaricus species have purplish-brown or dark brown shades of spores so I instantly knew that this fungus is not an Agaricus. They are quite clearly a pale cream and on using my Geoff Kibby key, and taking all my identification features into account, we are left with C. rhacodes 🙂
*No mushrooms were harmed in the making of this face. (Well, OK technically I suppose they were) Its fruit body was dismembered for identification purposes. And I did take two. But please don’t worry- there were plenty more! I only ever take a fungus if there are more around it and there are certain places you mustn’t pick them at all.
Have you seen lots of these on your travels too? I bet you have!
Cheerio for now,
I will be adapting this post for an upcoming article for the next CAS newsletter… so if you’re a member of CAS and also follow me you will recognise this fungi!
Do me a favour. Imagine it is Thursday afternoon. (I was meant to write this Thursday just gone, but became otherwise occupied)… Thank you.
Today has been a great day. Two things have made me extra happy today though, and that’s on top of my already happy-self! Just what on earth could these things be, you ask?
1. Our new fridge/freezer arrived.
And this one really will revolutionise my life. Thank the Lord of white-goods. And I’m not kidding. Mainly because the fridge we have been using since well, forever, is designed for a pixie and not a family of three. How we didn’t go down with something I do not know, as there was zero air circulating in that jam-packed fridge. Can’t be healthy. Every time I opened the door a packet of ham would slide out which peed me off to be honest, or tomatoes would roll out on to the floor because they have just been stuffed in wherever they could fit. Frustrating. Running out of milk? No point getting a new bottle in just yet because it won’t fit in to the door pocket. Salad crisper? Couldn’t even fit a decent sized lettuce in. Might squeeze in a couple of peppers and a small head of brocolli though if you’re lucky. I would have to precariously balance an avocado on top of Oscars Petit Filous’. But only one, mind- I can’t stock more than one of each item. No room. I’d have to go shopping again. You get the picture. Chocker block in there. Needless to say I am ECSTATIC with this new addition to the household. I can finally stock what I need in an orderly (and safe) fashion, and keep any leftovers in Tupperware (I bloody love Tupperware) with plenty of room. This is meant to be a post about fungi. I know that.
2. I found my first ever Bolete.
Yes, my first ever bolete! So, after a pleasant day, I decided to go out for an afternoon stroll with Oscar. We went to the bamboo garden area which is close to a woody area of different Fagaceae species. I was looking at a Q. robur that has Collybia fusipes, Spindle shank on its roots. This fungi affects the roots of its host- and predominantly affecting Oak species. Kev told me about it and I wanted to have a look at it, but I had also noted that there was another English Oak with the fungus and I wanted to take down the accession number for him. Whilst heading over, I spotted a small blue mess on the ground, in the grass just beneath a Fagus sylvatica. A crushed fungus of some sort, and on closer inspection I could see it was some sort of a bolete- no gills with these fungi, but the spores are contained in a tubular layer instead. Which is why they have pores on the underside of their caps. This one has yellow tubes, pores and flesh, with a pale (greyish) cap that once was, and on a little further crushing revealed it instantly turns blue. Delightful! Don’t know exactly what it is though… But checking with the lovely Lukas Large, it seems it could be Caloboletus radicans, or the Rooting Bolete, and on researching this species it seems most likely. Thank you as always Lukas! 🙂
Here’s a photo of it. It’s unfortunately rather pulverised. I hope I get to see some more of them soon.
But guess what? When I started to head towards home, I found more Boletes- another Beech tree was just completely surrounded by them. Different ones it seemed. I found two different Boletes amongst all of those I saw. Slugs were having munchies on them, it was just brilliant. There were lots of them in total so I carefully removed one of each kind and placed them for transit home. I wanted to photograph them and have a good look at them. Then it started to rain. Piss down, actually. I carry my rain jacket and the waterproof for the buggy at all times in this unpredictable British weather. But on this occasion I did not. And no, I don’t know why. This is what is called Sod’s law (not Murphy, Sod sounds better). And we got soaked. I was running home with the buggy like a mad woman. Oscar seemingly didn’t mind getting damp jeans but instead found it just hilarious for his mum to be speeding him and his buggy around. Boletes I collected for further observation were also in transit and I didn’t want to damage them! It was stressful!
Returning home like a drowned rat, I released Oscar from his buggy, luckily his legs were only a little wet (the canopy kept his upper half dry- phew!) and I got him dried and changed. I then got the mushrooms into the kitchen! Time to dissect…
So, fellow fungi lovers, and in particular, bolete fanatics, here is where some of you may wish to step in now with your knowledge. Some of you more experienced folk may know exactly what these Boletes are, or have some advice for me so be my guest. Help a girl out! Boletes are very new to me… If you haven’t already noticed.
BOLETE NUMBER 1:
Here is bolete number 1. Dark cap, yellow pores and tubes. Short and stout stipe- no network on the stipe, slight bluing to the flesh (only very slight and sparse) and no specific smell. Tube layer is attached. The pores are almost maze-like just like the patterninf of the pore on a maze gill fungus. Quite an interesting pattern.
BOLETE NUMBER 2.
A larger cap size and there were also a few of these around where I found this one. Cap a slightly lighter brown. Smooth. Flesh and tube layer yellow. Stipe yellow and without network, with a prominent red colouring half way up. Again no specific odour.
And BOLETE NUMBER 3…
Another different one it appears. A baby one and a more mature one as you can see here. This time, in grass and soil beneath a Magnolia tree. When young, it has a downy white covering on the cap. Cap otherwise red/brown. Yellow pores and a striking red/orange stipe, which yellowed towards the pileus. I didn’t remove this one from the ground as it was the only one next to another very young one. So I wasn’t able to check it out in detail for colour changes etc. I wonder what it could be? Perhaps Xerocomus chrystenteron? I cannot be sure due to the fact I did not uproot this fellow. I left him to continue his cycle in situ!
This post is all about sharing the fungi love. I would just love to know of any ID experience and guidance from any Bolete lovers and experts out there. Don’t get me wrong, I can see a fungus for example and say ‘yes, that’s a bolete type of fungus’ , but currently I have not seen enough of them to know which one is which, and there’s a lot of them out there! Some may be mistaken for there and so on. Also, without further identifying them it is very difficult to sometimes know what they are. I apologise for that but I didn’t want to tear them from the ground and prevent them from spreading their spores if they were alone! If there are several then I will definitely take one up.
Oh, I also found a puffball 🙂
See? Great day!
… and here’s a hot-off-the-press update for you. A mere 24 hours later and they’ve all (Boletes) vanished from beneath the Fagus. I’m cheesed off quite honestly. The mower has only come along and eaten them all up. Could they not have waited to cut the grass in that particular spot for another few days? Ahhh the life of a fungus in a working garden. There’s always that risk of getting mowed down.
Over the past few days, there have been some cracking bits and pieces fruiting out there! Seriously, in most mulch pits here in Kew you can find inkcaps studding the soil before deliquescing into an inky mess, melting back into the ecosystem. Those, and lots of Chlorophyllum rhacodes at the present too. I was delighted however, following this wet weather (yay!) to find much more of a variety out there this week.
As I type, I am currently having my hair roots coloured- its been a couple of months and it’s about time they got done. Always makes you feel better doesn’t it, a good hair cut and colour. For me, it is a couple of hours of peace to just sit and drink coffee and, well be pampered a bit I suppose. So, with that in mind, it simultaneously presents a great opportunity to sit and write a post, which in turn helps me avoid catching a glimpse of my paste-y potato face in a ridiculously brightly lit mirror. (Who enjoys staring in the mirror at themselves looking like a drowned rat anyway?) I digress…
This is a brief post for me to check in and present a few photos- Photos of fungi that I have spotted in the gardens over the past few days whilst strolling around with Oscar or when walking the doggies (none of them care for my fungi fascination I might add). Give the ground some good old soaking with rain and you will find lots of things fruiting!
So much fungi fruiting under almost every tree pit I came across!
I’m not certain of who this little chap is above, but he’s beautiful.
Above: fungi at night!
Below: I stumbled across some gorgeous Agaricus xanthodermus beneath a Cedrus atlantica.
Below is the stunning Agaricus xanthodermus- better known as the Yellow Stainer. A common one, but under-rated. I really like them with their inky odour and immediate bright yellow flush. Here, under a Cedrus atlantica, I spotted several of them fruiting on the mulch. With a gorgeous cap detail, and beautiful gills, this fungi immediately stains a bright yellow colour when cut or bruised, particularly at the cap margin (as you can see here on the image of the underside) and at the base. It also smells very strongly of phenol, or ink. I personally don’t mind the smell, it is almost anti-septic in odour, but it would certainly ensure you don’t consume it 🙂
Below: Agaricus xanthodermus
The gorgous Agaricus xanthodermus
The beautiful gills of Yellow stainer
Their gills are gorgeous, and so is the cap.
As with all inkcaps, they fruit and only look ‘perfect’ for so long. They soon begin to deliquesce into an inly mess (which really is like thick ink) and wilt away before disappearing- and it’s only a few short days for this cycle to take place. I love Coprinellus species because of their delicate nature and detail.
There was the Mutinus caninus spotted earlier in the week, which is still thriving on in the bamboo pits of Kew- one specific pit to be exact, of Phyllostachys parvifolia. To my dismay the following day, the pit had been freshly mulched (which is great of course) but my first thought was ‘noooo! The dog stinkhorns!’ But wonderfully, the garden staff had left some patches where the fungi was growing and actually since then, there are even more pushing through so they will not be beaten!
Well there’s lots of damp ground out there at the moment so I am sure I will find lots more fungi to fawn over very soon!
I have a few choice words I could use that might describe the Mutinus caninus (Dog Stinkhorn) that you see here, but that would just be unprofessional. And immature. And I’m not immature in any way, shape or form.
As I write to you all, I am currently sat with a nice gin and tonic (slimline tonic I feel I need to add). I have just returned from a lovely walk around the gardens and was delighted to see what the rain has brought out.
Not long ago, I mentioned there have been lots of Clathrus archeri (Devil’s Fingers) which is a type of stinkhorn. They really love to fruit in a particular bamboo bed here in the gardens, and to my joy I saw lots of Dog Stinkhorns fruiting there instead today; some just emerging from their ‘eggs’, some already freshly erected (yes, I said that word- how else would you describe it?) and some already withered and floppy 🙂 Whatever the case, the flies were loving the olive coloured, spore-giving gleba mass on the tip of its slender, orange fruit body, just ready to spread the love. From the family Phallaceae, the name of this fungus literally translates to ‘ dogs penis’. Mutinus originates from the Latin word muto, meaning ‘penis’ and caninus literally translates to ‘dog-like’. I say no more. So there’s some trivia for you. Must be the gin!
Regardless of its stench and rather funky appearance, I am certainly very happy to see this stinky little treasure in Kew!
In the world of fungi, the appearance of species vary greatly. We know that one can’t always just know what a species is without further identification; visual checks and by means of spore printing, microscopes and staining agents. However, and with that in mind, even with common species, one can’t always just tell what it is by seeing it in a photo either. We look at field guides and see an image or drawing of a species and immediately have this pre-conception that it would look exactly like that out in the field too. But nature doesn’t work like that does it . 🙂 They fruit as a unique and may or may not look like the image you have imprinted in your mind. Perhaps they are in an early fruiting stage, different in size or colour, or are just mature and way past their best to be identified easily…
So this week, for me, on a jaunt around the gardens of Kew, I was pretty unsurprised, (yet always delighted) to find lots of Agrocybe putaminum– Mulch Fieldcap. I say unsurprised because they are clearing loving it here at the moment, happily nestled in the mulch beneath the Pinus species (and also under a couple of A. indica trees I have since noted. They must bloody love the mulch used here). Now that I know them and have studied their identification features, when I see them I just know exactly what they are- be them new, fresh and unblemished, without a wrinkle or slug bite, or mature, with dirty grey gills and fissured caps. And that’s quite cool actually, (well I think so), but at the same time I am hoping for a new challenge to be presented to me this time and find something that I can really key out. Looks like my luck was in…
A little further along my walk and some trusty Chlorophyllum rhacodes (or is it ‘rachodes’? The confusion is very real there…) have popped up to say hello beneath a Grecian Fir and that’s just fine- I know those guys love the mulch here too and was again pleased but unsurprised to see them; it was the flash of colour I spotted walking past that tree that really caught my eye. A stunning orange-red colour was peeping through the foliage of the lower branches and so I ran round to see it (yes I ran round- you can never be too careful with these disappearing fungi you know…) I haven’t seen you lot round here before…
Above: The 3 beauties!
Common as muck…
The truth is that these lot are likely to be around here quite a lot of course- they are a fairly common species and love a good bit of woodchip mulch. I didn’t know what they were because I hadn’t seen this fungus before in the flesh so whatever it was I would need to work it out, which I do love doing. So I carefully dug one of them out (it just happened to be attached to its friend so they both had to come home with me. Never mind).
Once home, the fungi had the pleasure of being dissected. What did we get up to, I hear you ask?
Had a sniff… Nope doesn’t smell of anything in particular this time. No essence of almond or liquorice. Just mushroomy 🙂
Took some images, some in situ and some at home.
Measured the specimen. Approx. 5-6 cm in height.
Used a hand lens to look at finer details on the cap and stipe surface. No hairs. Smooth and dry but with yellow-white ‘fluff’ around the cap edges which is no doubt some remnants of a partial veil…
Checked the gills to see what their colour, appearance and placement is. These were attached and slightly notched.
Cut the stipe to have a look at the flesh. Nothing of any remark and no colour changes on cutting/bruising.
Cut stipe off at the top just under the cap, and very carefully. I’m going to do a spore print.
Left cap on some white paper towel over night beneath a jug in order to do my spore print.
Tell me spore…
So we can see the spore print reveals a nice dark brown/purple colour, almost very sooty in colour.
The learning begins…
I used a key at home to try and whittle the details down… I had my spore print and keyed out all the details that were presented to me against the key, and eventually, and most definitely it took me to Hypholoma. The species jumping out at me was Hypholoma lateritium and if you look this species up you will see that the identifying features are extremely similar. But alas, the doubt was there- it can’t be right because ‘Brick caps’, H. lateritium, like the stump life. Hardwood stumps is where they enjoy being and for me, this mushroom is on mulch beneath a fir tree. So it can’t realistically be a sodding Brick cap can it Laura. What’s going on?
I dream about fungi…
I do, actually. Sometimes I dream about finding amazing fungi. (I don’t care what you think of me!) So, there was much pondering, and I must confess I spent all evening looking at this fungi and I even dreamed about it. (I should absolutely not be admitting that but alas, it was really bugging me!) I couldn’t take it anymore so I made contact with a certain Mr Overall to put me out of my misery. (Sorry Andy!) The lovely fungi I found was… L. ceres and now it all makes sense, but at least I wasn’t too far away from the answer- my key just didn’t list it and I settled for why was closest at that point and that’s my own fault for not finding a different key to use. (That’ll learn me on this occasion!) I feel proud for working it out in the correct manner and was so close yet so far. But:
Remember… we are always learning! It goes without saying but we can’t always just know something or immediately identify something without learning about it first and making mistakes. Every day is a school day and on that day I learned what Leratiomyces ceres is! Sometimes we all need a nudge in the right direction. So I say: misidentify away! It’s the only way to learn. You can’t always just know a fungus from a photo and without further information. And that’s fine! Cheers… A big mushroomy thanks to Andy, for being as always, a self-confessed fun-gi and true mycology expert!
This morning I toddled down to the log trail with, well, my toddler. My very-much dictator-like toddler, and apparently we are off to see ‘tractors’. I told him we might see one (to be fair we normally do when we are round the gardens), but mainly the purpose of popping down here is not to see tractors, it was to give Kevin his packed lunch and let Oscar run around and climb on logs. And maybe see fungi. Everyone’s a winner.
When we arrived I immediately saw this plasmodial slime mould dotted over one of the old logs and immediately knew what it was. It’s Wolfs-milk toothpaste slime! Always nice to see! The scientific binomial is Lycogala epidendrum. Not really a fungi, it is a cosmopolitan slime mould and is saprobic, often found on damp dead wood and logs.
As you can see from the images, this stuff is pretty fresh (wasn’t here last night!) and is bright pink-orange in colour which excretes a pinkish paste when popped. This slime mould turns a brown-grey shade when old, so can be missed, and is worth noting that in its plasmodial stage, it can also ‘move’ over the host (amazing). In this stage, there are red individuals which we generally never see. These individuals then change to the next phase (‘aethalial’ stage) by means of a chemical signalling (extra amazing!) which is when they fruit and become the pink-orange globules we see here.
How cute are these?! Known as ‘Birds nest fungi’, this saprobic little organism is from the Nidulariaceae family. ‘ Nidulus’ means ‘little nest’ in Latin would you believe! (‘Niduli’ for plural. Just thought I’d add that in).
As these are saprobic fungi, they can be found feeding on decomposing organic matter, mainly on woodchip and mulch pits on the ground! I found these recently in absolute abundance beneath some Malus’. I love that Malus pit in Kew, and after finding Parasola and Agrocybe, I always go there and see what may be around. Particularly after some downpours, you are likely to find these little gems all over the place.
Rain rain rain!!!
They love the damp, they love woodchip mulch and yes, it is a very common little fungi, but will never cease to amaze me in just how smart and clever it is. I’m mentioning it because I am more than sure it often gets ignored or trampled on as it is so small, especially if it is not a young fruiting body.
What does this FUN-gi look like?
Well, as the photo, and name suggests, this fungi looks like little birds nests! The little cups or the ‘peridia’ are stemless, vase-shaped and grow on the decaying organic matter. The cups can be 10 mm tall and 5-8 mm across. They start with a fleshy, thin membrane, which in this case, is orange to tan coloured and it breaks away as it matures. The membrane conceals up to 8 tiny (but absolutely visible) white ‘eggs’ (peridioles) which contain the spores. As the spores develop inside the fruit body, this means this is a gasteroid type of fungi. When they are very mature, the cups turn a brown colour, have no membrane and are more brittle. Sometimes you can still see eggs inside them. They are also much more difficult to find unless you are looking for them! No longer part of the Gastromycete family though, (like stinkhorns for example), the species was transferred to Crucibulum by P E Kambly in 1936. Kambly, an American mycologist did this after British mycologist William Hudson first named and described it in 1778.
Spreading the love…
Being as the fruit body of a fungi is of course its sexual organ, just how does this fungi spread the spores with its little nest stuck on the ground? We have seen from my previous post just how C. archeri (also a gasteroid fungi type) relies on flies to transport its spores from the gleba, but with this it is very different. After its vegetative stage (the mycelial spread of which we often can’t see) comes the reproductive stage and this is where we are lucky and see the fruiting bodies that a fungi presents us with. I was delighted to learn that the ‘nests’ are actually little splash cups, and when a raindrop hits the cup, and due to its cup shape and the angle of the inside walls, it propels the eggs out of its nest and is flung elsewhere to colonise. Sometimes almost up to a metre away! Smart, huh? I thought so too! Even more fascinating is that the ‘eggs’ have something called a funicular cord which is a teeny tiny delicate thread. Almost like silk-thread from a spider making her web. This cord can get caught on a twig whilst in the air thus spreading the spore up there. Animals can then ingest them and spread them through excretion. Nifty!
This species I have found here is highly likely to be Crucibulum laeve. It is very common and I am certain people can walk over this without even realising. The world beneath our feet is so beautiful and interesting- we just have to take a closer look!! Species-wise, there are several. There are actually 5 genera. I invite you to research them as they are fascinating!
Crucibulum are ‘crucible’ shaped cups and are of cinnamon or light tan/orange just like these ones I have shown. The word ‘laeve’ means ‘smooth’- just like the inner cup surface. The other genera suggest different colours, cup size and shape, and some have membranes with fine hair-like structures. The ones I found do not have these features and certainly do have funicular cords. (You can see under a handlens when trying to remove an ‘egg’ from its nest- a very fine silk like cord is attached).
When can I find them?
Damp, mild weather will usually bring them out, and I have been seeing them around the mulch pits since May.
Another amazing little fungi! Have you spotted any of these about? There are different types that may be fruiting.
I hope you enjoyed this brief post about this cool little fungi and its large part in ecology. Where would we be without fungi?!