Thursday, 7 December 2017

Neottiella ...

Neottiella (Octospora) rutilans




Despite its rich peach-orange appearance N. rutilans (Pezizales: Pyronemataceae) is a small ascomycete fungus that can easily be overlooked where it grows, buried amongst Polytrichum mosses on heathland or in light sandy soils. The shallow cup or disc-shaped fruiting bodies, growing to around 5-15mm across, may become undulating and somewhat contorted where several fruiting bodies are condensed and crowded together. The above examples were recently photographed in a Sussex dune system.

References:

Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan, p. 367, fig. p. 366, e.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 314, fig. p. 315.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Rare or under recorded …

Guepiniopsis buccina






The tiny and rarely recorded G. buccina (Dacrymycetales: Dacrymycetaceae). Only 14 records are currently listed on the FRDBI database and 17 on the NBN Atlas [26 November 2017]. The above specimens were recently recorded and photographed at two sites in West Sussex and are new county records. My thanks to Nick Aplin for confirming identification and for the above photomicrographs which show the tuning fork shaped basidium in the left hand image and basidiospores in the right hand image.

References:

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The flea with green ears …

Flea’s Ear (Chlorencoelia versiformis)

What a great name ...



C. versiformis (Helotiales: Hemiphacidiaceae) is a rare saprotroph [an organism deriving nourishment from decaying organic matter] with a restricted range on dead wood of broadleaved species. It is critically endangered in Britain having declined by more than 50% both pre and post 1960.

References:

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Variation in concept …

Sowerbyella radiculata

Until someone calls it something else …




The British Mycological Society records 124 British records of S. radiculata (Pezizales: Pyronemataceae) on its FRDBI database [18 October 2017] with just 5 from Sussex; the most recent being in 1957 from Friston Forest, East Sussex. There are two early records, one dating back to 1876, from Stopham, West Sussex. However, S. radiculata has also been recorded from Lullington Heath, East Sussex, where it was first recorded in 2014. There is also a modern record from Ashdown Forest, East Sussex (M. Allison, 2017, pers. comms., 14 October).

Buczacki et al. (2012) state, ‘usually in small trooping-tufted groups’ and ‘on soil with conifers.’ Sterry et al. (2009) state, ‘solitary or in small groups in coniferous woodland.’ The above specimens were found amongst coastal chalk grassland in East Sussex; so quite distinct in habitat from that described. There is a lot of variation in the current concept of this uncommon species, including a few ‘varieties’, which will no doubt be described as separate species in the future. Apart from the untypical habitat in which the above examples were found, the spores are quite wide and have a nice dense reticulate ornamentation; shown above dyed with Cotton Blue.

My thanks to Nick Aplin for the above photomicrograph and his considered opinion.

References:

Buczacki, S., Shields, C. and Ovenden, D. (2012). Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain & Ireland. London: HarperCollins, p. 606, fig. p. 607.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 324, fig. p. 325.

Monday, 16 October 2017

The force awakens …

Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex)







Although an infrequent and rather localised species, G. triplex is probably the most commonly found of the British Geastrum species.

Initially appearing as a part-buried ball with a prominent beak, the mature fruiting body eventually comprises of an outer star, an inner saucer-like collar (sometimes), and a central spore sac. The onion-shaped fruitbody splits open at maturity and 5 to 8 creamy-buff outer rays fold back, splitting to sometimes leave a fleshy collar as the remainder of each ray folds downwards and the tips curl partway under the body. A pointed hole, known as a peristome, situated on top of the sac releases spores when the wind blows across it or raindrops impinge upon its surface. The sides of the peristome are fibrous and appear rather ragged but not regularly striate. A fuzzy ring surrounds the peristome, which is slightly paler fawn-brown than the rest of the outer surface of the spore-sac.

With their extraterrestrial appearance members of the Geastraceae are always a pleasure to find …

References:

Buczacki, S., Shields, C. and Ovenden, D. (2012). Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain & Ireland. London: HarperCollins, p. 440, fig. p. 441.
O’Reilly, P. (2016). Fascinated by Fungi – exploring the majesty and mystery, facts and fantasy of the quirkiest kingdom on earth. Llandysul: First Nature, p. 305.
Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan, p. 335, figs. f and g.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 270, fig. p. 271.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Helvella …

Felt Saddle (Helvella macropus)


A somewhat uncommon find, probably exacerbated by its form and rather drab and discreet colouring, H. macropus is nevertheless widespread across Britain and Ireland. It is one of several 'saddle fungi' that appear in forests, particularly beside footpaths. The mature fruiting bodies, as pictured above, appear as shallow cups perched on delicate stems. Like their close relatives the morels, saddle fungi may have the capacity to form mycorrhizal relationships with woodland trees, but it is also clear that they can live as saprobes, feeding on woody debris.

Ebernoe Common is well recorded for fungi so it was nice to add a new species to the reserve list. My thanks to Ann for pointing me in the right direction …

References:

Buczacki, S., Shields, C. and Ovenden, D. (2012). Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain & Ireland. London: HarperCollins, p. 604, fig. p. 605.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 310, fig. p. 311.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Sweet smell of decay …

Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)










P. impudicus is the commonest of the British stinkhorns, with a smell that is typically detected long before the fungus is actually found. However, detecting their pungent odour does not necessarily guarantee finding them - though following your nose will often reap rewards. They are saprobic and usually gregarious; so where you find one you will often find others.

The ‘eggs’ can be found at any time of year but they usually lie dormant until the summer months. Within the egg the fruitbody develops. In the above picture of a dissected egg the stipe material is in the central column and the olive-green gleba, which bears the spores, surrounds it. The developing raised honeycomb structure of the cap beneath the gleba is also visible. As soon as the cap emerges from the egg, insects, attracted by the putrid odour, are drawn to it and eat the gelatinous gleba exposing the raised honeycomb structure. Some of the gleba adheres to the legs of insects and this is how the spores get carried from one location to another.

To find specimens in pristine condition you ideally need to visit suitable locations at dawn, as nasal senses are heightened and before their devourers have discovered the phallus-shaped newborns that have erupted from their embryonic form during the night.

References:

Buczacki, S., Shields, C. and Ovenden, D. (2012). Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain & Ireland. London: HarperCollins, p. 446, fig. p. 447.
O’Reilly, P. (2016). Fascinated by Fungi – exploring the majesty and mystery, facts and fantasy of the quirkiest kingdom on earth. Llandysul: First Nature, p. 302.
Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan, p. 338, fig. a.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 244, fig. p. 245.