Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Fungal jungle ...

Ebernoe Common, West Sussex

Where your fungal fantasies come alive ...






Ebernoe Common is a superb example of a habitat which has been almost completely lost from Sussex - a wood pasture, where cattle are allowed to roam freely within the confines of the woodland feeding in the glades and under the trees. The Sussex Wildlife Trust has restored this centuries old practice to the reserve so that once again the delicate balance of trees, flowers, insects, fungi, birds and other species are thriving.

Fungi are a crucial part of the ecosystem, helping some tree species to grow, and others to decay, returning nutrients to the soil. Over 1000 species have been recorded here including many that are nationally rare. A small selection of images from this season are figured above. These include (i) Upright Coral (Ramaria stricta), (ii) Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa), (iii) Hare's Ear (Otidea onotica), (iv) the notorious Deathcap (Amanita phalloides), and (v) what I believe to be Common Bonnet (Mycena galericulata).

Ebernoe Common is an internationally important site, which is designated as a National Nature Reserve (NNR), a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area for Conservation (SAC) under the Habitats Directive. This means it is illegal to knowingly remove living material, which includes fungi, unless you have specific permission to do so for research purposes.

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.
O’Reilly, P. (2016). Fascinated by Fungi – exploring the majesty and mystery, facts and fantasy of the quirkiest kingdom on Earth. Llandysul: First Nature.
Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins.
Sussex Wildlife Trust (2012). Ebernoe Common - Nature Reserve Guide. Woods Mill, Henfield: Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Now you see me …

Zoned Rosette (Podoscypha multizonata)



Although widespread in southern England P. multizonata is an uncommon fungus and one which is not regularly recorded; possibly, in part, also due to its superb camouflage as illustrated in the images above. It is associated with ancient woodland, a habitat that has sadly declined in Britain and throughout Europe, where it is parasitic on the living roots of broad-leaved trees, especially oak. Nearly 50% of the European population of P. multizonata occurs in the UK. It is a UK BAP priority species.

The above images depict one of three specimens recently discovered …

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. 550, fig. p.551.
Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan, p. 303, fig. d.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 288, fig. p. 289.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

One for sorrow, two for joy …

Magpie Inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea)

West Sussex ...





Although generally found as solitary specimens, C. picacea can also be found in well-spaced small groups. Although relatively frequent in the south of England, where they are mainly found amongst the soil and leaf litter of deciduous woodland, particularly beech, they are a rare find elsewhere. There is certainly something rather special about finding a pristine specimen of this beautiful fungus, or even better, a small group standing upright amongst the leaf litter of their woodland home …

References:

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.253.
Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan, pp. 258, fig. p. 259, c.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 218, fig. p. 219.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

It's life Jim but not as we know it ...

Welcome to the world of slime …






Although their appearance might suggest that slime moulds are fungi, they are neither fungi nor moulds; though they often form spore-bearing structures that resemble those of true fungi. Most slime moulds are generally deemed by taxonomists to be protists; the oddities of the natural world that don't seem to fit in with the rest of our global taxonomic grouping system - though this classification is still open to some debate.

Although
 many species fruit on decaying wood, they do not form penetrating and absorptive masses of hyphae in the woody
 substrate. Instead, slime moulds form structures called
 plasmodia, which are naked masses of 
protoplasm [a colourless material comprising the living part of a cell], which can move about and engulf particles, in an 
amoeboid-like manner, in order to maximize the nutrients they can draw from their food source. The plasmodia creep about over 
the surfaces of resources, consuming bacteria, fungal spores, plants, protozoa, and small particles of non-living organic
 matter. This continues until the plasmodia convert into spore-bearing
 structures. They are strange and wonderfully varied in colour and form and have names to conjure with such as Wolf's Milk Slime Mould (Lycogala epidendrum) and Dog Vomit Slime Mould (Fuligo septic).

Nice ...

Weird but definitely wonderful ...

References:

O’Reilly, P. (2016). Fascinated by Fungi – exploring the majesty and mystery, facts and fantasy of the quirkiest kingdom on Earth. Llandysul: First Nature, pp.78-79.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, pp. 334-335.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Fungal disorders …

I'll start by admitting I am a complete beginner when it comes to mycology. What I do know is that fungi and their various allies can be extremely difficult to identify to species level. Despite this, fungi have always fascinated me and, ever ready for a challenge, I’ve recently started looking at them more closely and taking a few pictures - at least they don't fly off like my normal subjects.

I’ll start with an easy one …

Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)




O. mucida is a widespread and common beech wood species. Appearing in late summer to late autumn it is typically found on rotting beech trunks and fallen branches where it grows in clusters. It is semi-translucent, slimy and white in appearance. When O. mucida is found on a beech tree it usually outcompetes other fungi nearby by means of a powerful anti-fungal agent called strobilurin. It is saprobic [deriving its nourishment from nonliving or decaying organic matter] or weakly parasitic to living beech trees. While it has a strong connection to beech, it has also been found growing on oak on rare occasions.

More at:

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. 200, fig. p.201.
Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan, p. 116, fig. a.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Departure ...

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)



Although present throughout the day on Sunday, 2nd October 2016, it appears that the 1st winter Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio), which was originally sighted at Newhaven Tidemills on 21st September 2016, has now departed and headed south. Having feasted on the delights of Sussex for at least twelve days this most confiding of birds has finally departed to its wintering grounds. Along with many other migratory birds it faces a journey fraught with danger with many being sadly trapped and killed at the hands of man en route.

I wish it safe passage …

More at: