Geopora sumneriana- looking for the Cedar Cup

6361D345-ABC7-4265-AEAA-8318AF1D1AFDFor this post, (and for this month’s CAS article that I have written), I wanted to tell you a little bit about a certain fungus that happens to be a bit special to me. Firstly, it is not terribly common but it is currently fruiting in Kew Gardens, and second, it also happens to be the first fungal fruitbody I ever spotted for myself properly (whilst out on a little foray with a friend, who used to work here in Kew). It was a January day and we were looking for a certain Geastrum campestre (Field Earthstar), which is quite rare but known to fruit beneath one of our Atlas Cedars.


After a short while, we did indeed find some! But before we did, I spotted a rather curious looking cup in the soil; the opening just sat at ground level. I asked what it could possibly be. Once my pal told me what it was, I was immediately intrigued by this ‘creature’ in the earth and couldn’t wait to find more of them, and once I ‘got my eye in’, I found there were actually several about. I went on to find more below other Cedar trees in the gardens and endeavoured to learn more about them. Not a great deal is known about the Cedar cup from what I have seen, and it may well be rare, but I am starting to think it may just be very under-recorded. After all, if it is only solely found with Cedar, then that limits its distribution greatly.
Photo: G.sumneriana. fully open to expose the fertile surface.


Finding the Cedar Cups…
Of course, it’s that time of year again  now, so once a fine day arrived (it’s been a bit, well, soggy recently hasn’t it), me and Oscar were out fungi hunting as standard. We were having a good search through the soil and debris beneath the Cedrus atlantica where I have seen the cups fruiting before. We were shot a few strange looks. Just a few. What could we possibly be looking at? Why was there a pushchair just abandoned at the side of the path? I digress… Anyway, the cups weren’t there, so we would check again and again, week after week, tree after tree, whenever I had a chance to stroll round really. Alas still no Cedar cups. Plenty of beautiful Earthstars around (another type of fungus I am a great lover of) but not quite what I was searching for!

Emerging cups!

Scouting round all the Cedars in the garden, and I finally came across them this week! I was so happy! Oscar was not. He wanted to go home there and then but certainly not before I got some photos! I found them right at the very edge of the bed that this particular tree is situated in, and I observe that these are never situated near the actual stem of the tree; these may be mycorrhizal with the root system so can be generally found further away from the tree. My feeling is that they have some species-specific mycorrhizal connection.


Emerging and opening 


It is usual to find them January to May time. They tend to enjoy dryer soil and in Kew we have sandy loam for soil. One must be quick because it seems the Kew wildlife enjoy sniffing them out to dine on. Badgers, squirrels, who knows- maybe a member of the public is partial to a slice of cedar cup, but somebody certainly likes munching them…  The cups begin as brown, roughly hairy spheres also known as the ascocarp, that are subterranean for quite some time before emerging to the surface and finally pushing through the earth and opening to reveal an almost crown-shaped cup with its fertile spore-bearing surface, and displaying several rays.

A beautiful example of G. sumneriana and the ‘webbing’ across the top of the cup as it opens up

What’s in a name?
As with all nomenclature, I think there’s usually some logical reason for the specimen having that name (or is there?!) Some with perhaps a reference to its appearance, but this one is thought to be named in honour of Francis Bertody Sumner (1874-1945), an American biologist, ichthyologist, zoologist and writer. The genus name, Geopora means ‘earth-cup’, which is quite fitting when this is literally a cup in the earth.
This fungus is exclusive to Cedar trees, although some records of it have been found beneath Yew. (Maybe Cedars were once growing nearby?)
Synonyms of Geopora sumneriana include Sepultaria sumneriana (Cooke) Massee, Sepultaria sumneri (Berk.) Boud., and Peziza sumneriana Cooke.


G. sumnneriana opened…


Habitat and distribution:

Geopora sumneriana is most common in Central Europe, where there is a higher concentration of Cedar trees (Cedrus spp.)

In my experience so far and at present, I am finding the cedar cups exclusively with Cedrus atlantica (Atlas Cedar) and not with other Cedar species. This may just be in Kew but it does seem the favoured species.
According to a source I read at, it states that the ‘Cedar Cup is a rare find in Britain, perhaps mainly because Cedars are non-native trees and their distribution is very patchy. If you travel along the M5 and M50 from Herefordshire through Worcestershire and in to Warwickshire, you will see quite a lot of cedars, and perhaps that is why many of the official records of Geopora sumneriana are from an area just south of the Malvern Hills’. It also stated that ‘In Britain, Cedar Cup was reported in exceptionally large numbers during the winter of 2016-17’. And actually, there really were lots of them here in Kew winter 2016-17! So that’s good to hear and to know. Here’s hoping 2018 will be the same. In fact, from what I have seen so far, I think it may well be!

G. sumneriana close to Cedrus atlantica species, RBG Kew


Spreading the love:
Thinking logically, I would say that these fungi spread their spores as an ascocarp by perhaps water droplet and wind dispersal or by a vector. Insects may land on or climb into the cups and wander off adorned with spores to spread. I have seen evidence that animals snuffle these cups out to devour so it seems highly likely that they ingest the fruitbody (I believe mycophagy is the term!) and pass the spores on either through their faecal matter or even on their actual body (noses, snouts). Several places where I found them last year may well play host to them this year too, but when I have gone over to the tree to look, the ground has been dug at (OK, this can always be the pesky squirrels retrieving their hoards too), but Cedar cups do get nibbled so I wouldn’t mind betting there may well have been some there that have now been munched. So, like I said before, you have to be quick!

The Cedar Cup- What it looks like:
The inner fertile surface of the cup is a cream or pale beige colour, and feels and looks very smooth. This surface is known as ‘hymenial’ or ‘spore bearing’, and the cup only opens once the fertile area is ready. As the cup begins to mature from its sphere-like, closed up form, it opens and becomes almost crown-like and displays up to 8 rays. It looks almost like a star shape, and appears as a much broader, shallower cup on the ground. The outer surface is brown, and finely hairy (and inevitably covered in dirt) making them tricky to find. It really is like a little cup in the ground and is truly one of my favourites.

Munched on?!

I have just a little favour of you all: I would love to know if you find any Cedar cups!  You will probably need to scrabble about on the ground as I often do, and so you may well get odd looks. But I’d love to know! So if you do come across one, you can find me at ‘fungifrolics’ on Twitter or Instagram. Do keep a little look out for them and the LAFF (Lost and Found Fungi Project) based here in RBG Kew would love to know of any other whereabouts and records of them too, I am sure!

Until the next time…

Happy fungi hunting!


Photos: My own



Honey, I’ve found a fungus 

In case you haven’t guessed, this post is pointing a finger at all those golden-brown masses swarming around tree bases and dead and buried roots at the moment! Although I will add, that I originally started this post last week and on this very day (today!!) the fungi I am specifically talking about have all become smush now 🙂 They are doing their job and taking nutrients back into the soil and thus doing their bit for the precious ecosytem we all rely on. 

I am enjoying learning about the different fungi that grow here in the U.K. and especially locally to me. I don’t have the luxury of long forays or disappearing miles away in search of fungi as much as that would be lovely, it’s not practical for me at this time. However, that won’t stop me enjoying fungi-hunting! 

So when I saw these Armillaria mellea (Honey Fungus) growing around this Poplar here in the gardens at Kew, I had to photograph it. Oscar pointed (from a distance I would like to add- that boy’s smart!) and exclaimed ‘gungi’! (He has learned to see and say ‘fungi’ now to my delight!) The white spores that have fallen on the soil and the surrounding fungi look like a dusting of icing sugar! The fruitbodies often like to overlap so are usually seen in big clusters like this growing on tree roots.

A. mellea has a signature identification factor of black ‘bootlace’ rhizomorphs that it feeds out, and they can be seen beneath the bark layer of an affected tree. It uses these bootlaces to spread throughout its host and from tree to tree. You can use a search engine on the internet to find many better images, but mine below shows one of the rhizomorphs I saw under some bark on this Poplar. The bark can eventually fall away as the tree dies of course, and this bit was certainly quite soggy.

Honey Fungus is parasitic. Bad news for the host then. But it also exists as a saprobe on old stumps and dead roots.  And I have learned it is not only restricted to trees! (Every day’s a school day). So it’s a gardeners enemy. But in this world of fungi, by the time you see a fruiting body, the damage has, and already is, being done. It always causes me slight despair when I see that someone has torn off a fruiting body to try and save the tree. (Of course it won’t, the fruiting body is simply the reproductive organ of the fungus and the real work is happening all around us and out of our sight). It all happens underneath the soil and bark and hidden away! In the soil, these rhizomorphs can find a new host tree some metres away. Which, personally, I find rather incredible. 

Another big ID factor is the yellow-white ring on the stipe. See above. A. mellea always has these. And it has weakly decurrent gills (gills running down the stem). The cap is of a honey-gold/brown and is a bit darker in the middle. Flesh is white. And it doesn’t taste like honey either from what I have learned. So for those interested in eating mushrooms, it is NOT a good idea to eat this one despite its enticing name! 

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it for myself, but this fungus is bioluminescent 🙂 I think you’d need a very dark place to see it glow in the dark I guess. 

And finally… here is the fungi today! Same lot from the base of the Poplar above but this time, it has come to the end of its fruiting for this time, and disintegrated back into the soil.

Fungi never cease to amaze me in all their forms! Is here more info you can add to this post in order to learn more about this fungus? Let me know!

L -x-

Giant Puffballs (and the mini ones)

From Giant Puffballs to little puffballs, they’re all sprouting up at the moment! My ears pricked this week whilst out and about in the gardens, a colleague stopped to say hello and mentioned there were some lovely big Calvatia gigantea as large as his head, (!!) and so naturally, he thought I would like to see them. They were near the the Tilia collection, just  down in the Berberis dell; a much quieter area of the gardens. Giant Puffballs are not uncommon and they are very widespread but because I love fungi, obviously I wanted to go and see them! So I did. 

And as big as a head they were, but it’s difficult to explain the scale, so here’s my pass with lanyard on one of them for my attempt at scale. (It’s all I really had on me apart from a packet of marmite rice cakes. They’re not bad actually).
Past their best in terms of the sizeable white snowball they once were, C gigantea become brown like this as they age. Edible as young, white, fleshy organisms, they become dangerous to eat as they are in the decomposition stage. The skin has become brown, broken and cracked which is revealing the spore rich mass. The gleba has now become a brown sporey mass almost like a sponge. Or sofa stuffing I tend to liken it to. Or as my friend once said, elephant poo. Both totally plausible lookalikes.

After admiring them, we trundled off home the scenic route, and with a very cross toddler indicating it was time for lunch, we quickly passed a Weeping Beech and spotted hundreds (really there were hundreds) of little Puffballs which took me a while to discuss and determine which species they might be. Of course I stopped to take photos and have a look, which angered my tot even more. ‘Alright, we are going home for num-nums now’ I told him. I don’t get much time these days. Quick photo and I’m off! 

I walked off and wondered if they could be Lycoperdon pyriforme because I am aware that the species likes to grow on woody substrate and often in clusters. And lots of these were so it was most likely. In fact it is one of only a few Puffballs that grow on wood. But lots appeared to be growing on the soil too. So could they actually be L. perlatum ? I’d have another look at my photos. 

Similar in some ways yes, but the ‘jewels’ aren’t really present on these ones. The ‘jewels’ or little spikes present on L. perlatum are quite large.  I couldn’t be too sure to give them a certain identification though at the time, and so I discussed it with the lovely Lukas who never lets me down when it comes to questioning fungi finds. We came to the conclusion that they are most likely L. pyriforme . They can indeed be growing on buried roots and this could look as if they are growing on soil. The fungus grows abundantly on deciduous or coniferous decaying wood in autumn, and it seems like that’s what this lot are doing!

Lycoperdon pyriforme (Schaeffe.) ‘The Stump Puffball’:

‘Pyriforme’ originates from the Latin for ‘pear-shaped’. The fruit bodies can also have tiny, fine spines on their surface which drop off at maturity. Perhaps this is why I got a little confused by species at first. But now I know they are much finer than L. perlatum spines. The gleba is white and firm in younger specimens (edible at this stage) but I saw that some had a yellow tinge, and this happens as they age. Then the older ones which had already ‘erupted’ revealed an olive-brown coloured powdery spore mass. The central perforation at the top of the ‘ball’ opens at maturity and spores are dispersed via wind and rain. The fungus is saprobic, growing on decaying tree stumps or roots and is widespread and very common in Great Britain and Ireland, as well as across several parts of the world. Taxonomy note: Originally named by Jacob Christian Schaeffer in 1796.

However, due to the huge number of puffballs here at the moment I think it’s best to stay well away from all these erupting spheres; copious amounts of the spores can cause Lycoperdonosis, a respiratory illness caused solely by the inhalation of mature puffball spores. 

Lycoperdonosis- it’s an actual thing

It is. But note the word ‘copious’. You would really have to breath in a fair amount of spores for them to cause problems, meaning it’s quite rare. 

But I find it scary! The spores of puffballs such as L. perlatum  have characteristic little spikes or warts protruding from them which are seen under microscope, and these then get caught in the lungs, showing up as nodules on chest x-rays. It is said that symptoms are likened to tuberculosis so diagnosis can be very difficult at first. Cold/flu symptoms occur followed by nausea, a racing pulse, a strange sound at the end of inhalation, and it can take hours for symptoms to initially start showing.  The disease can be treated thankfully with corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation and sometimes antimicrobials. (Wikipedia) Dogs have also been known to contract the disease when playing and digging in areas where Puffballs grow. 

Just to say

Podoscypha multizonata is the focus of my next CAS fungi article so to any members of the society, look out for your next newsletter and read about this beautiful species currently fruiting in Kew.

In the meantime, I am off to prepare for a  new year of studying to begin, and am also very much looking forward to a fungal foray with Fungitobewith this weekend! I will surely write a post about it so you can find out what we discover on the day. 

Until next time,

L -x- 
References: and Wikipedia

With thanks to Lukas Large for your time and guidance as always 

The best season is here!

Yes it has arrived!! Beautiful autumn. A transition in nature I do so love to see. I for one am rather glad to see the back of summer. I mean, it has its advantages and all that; beautiful flowers, buzzy bees, the fact I can wear dresses or shorts so that I can blind everyone with my legs, (so that’s possibly not an advantage for anyone else), sun, ice cream, Pimms with friends and so much more. It’s especially lovely with a little one to get out, walk together and play in some lovely warm weather (not too warm though- that’s what I hate) and stay away from the soft play centres with their sticky floors and bad coffee as much as reasonably possible!

I suppose there are lots of good things about summer really. I mean, of course there are. I’m not that miserable. But unfortunately, it can’t be ignored that the warmest time of our year also brings swarms of flying ants into our home, (which quite frankly pissed me off this year), mozzies, hay-fever, sweating away into a melting mess and having to wash clothes after about ten minutes of wearing them, as well as constantly having to slather on factor 1000 sun cream to my pastey, ghost skin (messy at the best of times and almost impossible to apply it easily to an almost-two-year old). Oh and there’s seeing people flapping along in flip flops (*shudder*). Sorry to any flip flop wearers. I won’t wear them. They dig in. Just uncomfortable. I don’t know how people wear them to be honest…

In case you haven’t guessed already- I’m a fan of the cooler months. I love the smell of autumn, the coolness in the air that it brings, the colourful leaves fluttering along the ground in the wind, soup and crusty bread, being able to wear boots and cosy clothes again, hot chocolate, and of course- the autumn fungi. This time of year makes me feel especially happy. I’m not alone in this feeling! I just know it! 
Fellow fungi nuts will know there has been so much about already-  fungi are always here (although, does anyone know where the Boletes have buggered off to?) but now the time is here for much more! And I can’t wait to see what this season will bring. 

Chestnut feast. Messy squirrels!

Sorry it has been a little while since I last posted here, but I wasn’t out and about quite as much as usual. I have had lots going on appointments-wise and at one point I was not especially well. But I’m back and here’s a few photos of some fungi I have seen recently on my (very) local wanders! 

Here below is a ring (well, almost. It is more of an arc), of Clavulina coralloides- the common and widespread Crested coral fungus out everywhere in mulch of the gardens at the moment! These lot are under a Berberis in Kew Gardens.

Below is some Meripilus giganteus on Fagus roots. Past it’s best I must say! It doesn’t stay fresh for long though…

This next one is a rare and special fungi I have seen in Kew. More interesting is it’s host, which happens to be a Fraxinus sp., an Ash tree, when it is usually found on species from the Fagaceae family. Little is known about this one and by simply googling it, there is not a great deal to find on the species. I hope to learn more about it in the future. I was reliably pinpointed to some useful information such as the LAFF project website. I was delighted to see this in recent weeks and this beautiful fungus is called Podoscypha multizonata, otherwise known as the Zoned rosette. From my first observation, it has quite fibrous, thick flesh that is layered and is of a wrinkly fashion. Brown colours. It is rather beautiful! Here in Britain there is a real responsibility to conserve this species as it is so uncommon and it is said that we in England have a high percentage of the worlds population. In Europe it is a rarity but perhaps in this country it is merely under recorded. Keep your eyes peeled! (Ref to LFG article by Andy Overall 2006). So quite rightly and happily, the ones in Kew are currently fenced off to protect them from mower and trampling damage so that they can continue to thrive here. (Bloody mowers).

Below: P. multizonata, Kew Gardens, S.West London

Here’s a fun one to leave you with- wrinkly fungi bosom buddies! I chuckled when I saw these two growing together in such a fashion. And I must say I don’t know what these are- I didn’t want to take one away from it’s pal!

I have a few more recent fungi snaps I will post when I can. I have a birthday party to prepare for and that means lots of baking! I also have to go and wash the dishes now.

What fungi have you found recently and where?

L -x-

Info found from an article on P. multizonata :

My week in fungi: 2

It has been a fairly normal, busy mummy week with my tot. All the normal chores and toddler chaos thrown in, and play dates outside every day which is good because the playgroups are still out for summer, and the weather is so good.   Although, the week was off to a bad start with an appalling service from an online delivery rhyming with ‘shame-berries’… which stressed me out somewhat, and left me pretty livid about the whole shebang. So I switched to a different online delivery service and peace has now been restored! Anyway… first world problems…

… but seriously, it was a nightmare.  Anyhow, Monday was delightful and I got into town first thing for coffee (yay to coconut flat whites) with a friend and her little tot, and off we went to our Monday morning parent and child music class. My friend always cheers me up just by being her so I felt a lot better from then on!  

So, without further ado, here are a selection of some of my fungi pics from the week…


Beautiful inkcaps, deliquescing away into an inky mess. 

After a lovely morning, we headed back through the gardens, but only along the main pathways toward home, and spotted lots of mulch loving fungi including these frequently seen inkcaps (Coprinellus sp.) but they always catch my eye.

 Clitocybe nuda – Wood Blewit (Well, I think so, but feel free to correct me if you think it may be something else)

These beauties were on leaf litter/mulch beneath a Cypress- I can’t be certain of it because I haven’t seen one before but I am fairly sure. Also I didn’t take one to further identify (Oscar was having a meltdown purely over wanting to see the fish in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and we were almost there when I stopped to photograph these). Their attributes make me think of Clitocybe nuda including the centre of the cap turning brown. Also, when I returned the following day, I noticed the same mushroom had turned completely brown. Quite stocky things with crowded gills. Very pretty lilac and violet colours when young! 


Leucopaxillus giganteus- The giant funnel 

Along with the thriving Clathrus archeri I saw this week,  I found these beauties just a bit away from the bamboo beds, at the very edge of an Oak pit in the gardens on Wednesday evening. The caps of these stunners can reach 10-30 cm or sometimes more! My foot for context (I have size 8 feet). They were pretty large. 

The gills are decurrent, meaning they run down some of the length of the stipe, and the spores are white (you can see in the photo where lots of spore dust is seen on the grass!)

It’s depressed centre is characteristic of this fungi giving it the name ‘giant funnel’. 

So this is an interesting one. I would not have had a clue what this fungus is, so I asked Andy O, and he kindly informed me it looks to be Confistulina hepatica, which is the little-known and anamorphic stage of Fistulina hepatica, Beefsteak fungus. It was on an Oak log, which has been carved into a toadstool at the start of Kew’s log trail. Let’s hope it remains intact a little longer so that Andy can take a look at it! This fab fungus has bright blood-red secretions. I know very little about it at present, although read as much as I could about what is learned of it so far, and am hoping to learn more in time. There is a great article on it in Field Mycology vol 18 from April 2017. 

Confistulina hepatica- look at the liquid that is exuded. Extraordinary! 


Today I met my friend in the gardens first thing- we are making the most of the good weather with our little ones to play outside, feed the ducks etc. The only thing is, my chest was hurting- I think I twisted something in there whilst trampolining last night! Truly hurt though! I literally must have broke my lungs. That’s what it felt like. Clearly I was too vigorous with the twisting in mid-air shenanigans. So that kind of put a slight damper on my day. But we did see this- check this out!

Calvatia gigantea- the Giant Puffball

So this baffled me- my accompanying friend yesterday described it as looking like an ‘elephant poo’. And it really did! Huge! And almost like a big ball of sofa stuffing. Very bizarre. It was sat randomly on the grass near Syon Vista- free rolling so that it can spread its spores. Brown, dusty, no specific odour in my opinion, and when I started to pull a little of it apart, it was really a lot like dusty old stuffing. But it turns out it really is a giant puffball! A very old one and the white skin has come away. I could see faint remnants of old skin on it and my friend found great joy in photographing it too! 

On the way back, I might have bumped into a certain mycologist and author who I was only too happy to meet! And of course point him toward a certain confistulina…  it kind of made my day, so all in all, a ruddy good week! Despite the bouncing injury… 

A lovely late summers day culminated in a play date at the (super busy) park and playground, and a cold drink with a couple of the girls in the nearby pub garden for half an hour or so before heading home ready for the weekend. And there’s the end of the week already. Well they do say time flies when you’re having fun!

Oh, I forgot to add my Volvopluteus gloiocephalus. I keyed it out to species and feel so proud! Thank you Dearest GK key! 

I thought it was beautiful;  pearlescent sheen to the cap which has an obvious umbo. Pink-brown gills and pink spores, free gills and thin volval remains at the base. I found it in mulch beneath a Pinus sp.  in the gardens.

Any thoughts on any of these fungi? And what fungi have you found this week? 

L -x-

My week in fungi 


This week, and on Monday, I had the arrival of the amazing species key on British Boletes by Geoffrey Kibby- yes, it’s amazing and some of you may have already noticed my excitement for the arrival of this key. Authored by Geoffrey Kibby only last year (2016), it highlights the British species of Boletes (there are around 80 apparently) and how to key them out to species. Being a very keen and new mycologist, I am over the moon to be able to have something substantial and up-to-date to get my teeth into when I find a specimen. So bring on the Boletes I say! 

It’s so incredibly rewarding to identify something and work it all out until you are left with the correct species. Then, you can research and start to learn more about it. 

I started my fungi week by having a quick mooch around the gardens in the evening whilst walking the dogs. I have a nice new key waiting for me at home and I fancy a few Boletes to key out. What do I find? Russula. Russula everywhere having parties. And right now I haven’t got the foggiest which species are which. Once you know Russula, you’ve made it in the field mycology world. In my humble opinion of course. 

Russula party in the gardens Monday evening.

Tough cookies…

Fungi such as Russula require field experience and that takes time of course, to build up over the years. They’re tough ones. And I realise that now. Chemical reagents and microscopy are pretty key in working these little monkeys out too because they are just so variable. Basically, I’m going to admire them but admit I will come back to them as they require real time and attention.  It the meantime, Boletes are a really good place to start. Kibby even states in his new guide that actually the Boletes are a good starter point for budding mycologists, due to them mostly being able to be identified by their macro features. 

A must-have guide:

For fellow fungi fans out there (and I know there are several of you!), I highly recommend this key to further your ident abilities with Boletes. It isn’t a pocket field guide- it is an A4 plastic ringbound key and I think it’s marvellous. Perfect for when you get your specimens home and want to start identifying them. It is also up to date since the DNA evidence has changed, some of the groups and a lot of new names have now been revised for many. It gets you up to date and in the know as to what’s what. It’s great to encourage oneself to get out there, take some varied, fresh, newly mature specimens home and have a good look at them. And learn about them. 

Every day’s a school day…

It goes without saying-  learning occurs in the world of fungi all the time! And for me it is truly fascinating. I don’t recall the last time I was this passionate about an interest or pastime. For example, I didn’t know that you need to tear the tubular layer of a bolete (not cut!) in order to ascertain if there are ‘half tubes’ present or just whole ones. A factor like this determines what genus the mushroom may be in. Who knew there were half-tubes?


Cyanoboletus pulverulentus or the Ink stain bolete. I keyed this one out using my key, and it is truly remarkable. I found it beneath a holly bush and every part of it internally and externally immediately turns blue-black and ink-like as soon as it is damaged, even if pressed hard. 

Clathrus archeri- Octopus stinkhorn/Devils fingers

Ahhh… A favourite of mine down at the bamboo beds and I wasn’t sure of I’d see it again this year! But here is evidence more have appeared and in a different bed this time. 


Suillus grevillei , a common bolete found growing mycorhizzally with Larix (larch) and there were plenty in the Larch collection on Thursday evening. Beautiful orange-sunset yellow and viscid caps. These Boletes also have an obvious ring, and bright yellow flesh throughout with no colour change. This one was an easy one to key it and identify using my new guide. Lovely bolete. 


Birds nest fungi! This one is my old favourite and a frequent of this particular Malus pit, and is likely to be Crucibulum laeve.

How was your week in fungi? Anything new?

L -x-

Teeniest fungi I have ever seen! 

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! 

Rant over.

Seen anything new today?

L -x-

For the love of Russula

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

One of many ravishing russula!

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… 

Excuse the poor image quality, I was holding on to the leads of two dogs that were desperate to continue their walk. Stunning little chap though!

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 ‘Drowned rat’ look is never a good one
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…

Three funguys

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!

Monday Fungi

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!

See you soon! 

L -x-

The Shaggy Parasol

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!

Look at those scales!

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.

Three’s a crowd…


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, 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
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 Chlorophyllum rhacodes include Agaricus rhacodes Vittad., Lepiota rhacodes (Vittad.) Quél., Lepiota procera var. rhacodes (Vittad.) Massee, Macrolepiota rhacodes (Vittad.) Singer, and Macrolepiota venenata Bon.


FUN-gi features:

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,

L -x-

  • 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!