Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Just why would you …

Earpick Fungus (Auriscalpium vulgare)




Growing solitary or in small groups, nearly always from rotting pine cones that are usually fully or partially buried, A. vulgare is a small, inconspicuous, widespread toothed fungus that is often overlooked. Even when making a concerted effort to find this rather unusual species, it can be surprisingly difficult to locate, even in known locations, as its colours and form blend in extremely well with the needles and cones littering the floor in coniferous woodland.

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. 470, fig. p. 471.
Kibby, G. (2017). Mushrooms and Toadstools of Great Britain & Europe, Volume 1, pp. 42-43.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 280, figs. p. 280-281.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Kretzschmaria …

Brittle Cinder (Kretzschmaria deusta)


Kretzschmaria deusta, commonly known as Brittle Cinder, is a worrying plant pathogen which has the ability to seriously damage trees by causing deep seated decay within the root system and lower stem. The fungus produces wavy-edged cushions or crusts clinging to the substrate timber. Initially greyish with white edges, as shown in the image above, the fruitbodies turn black and become extremely brittle with age. Easily spotted when young, K. deusta is probably under-recorded because it can so easily go unnoticed once it darkens; old fruitbodies looking more like charred wood than anything produced by a fungus.

Maybe not one of the glamour species but certainly fascinating when viewed in close detail. To give an idea of size, the above specimen, recently photographed in local Surrey woodland, was approximately 35mm in diameter.

References:

Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 328, fig. p. 329.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Rivendell …

Middle-earth taxonomy ...



The genus Helvella includes a number of saucer or saddle-shaped fungi with a simple stem, cup-shaped forms, and includes some species with irregular and distorted heads and a hollow, ribbed, furrowed stem. It is a widespread, speciose genus of ascomycetes (Pezizomycetes: Pezizales) whose members are found in various terrestrial biomes of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Although easily separated from other macrofungi by conspicuous polymorphic apothecia, it is surprisingly difficult to distinguish between Helvella species. Skrede et al., (2017) suggest there are at least 55 Helvella species in Europe. The White Saddle Helvella crispa and Elfin Saddle H. lacunosa are probably the two most commonly encountered species in the UK.

Despite some recent intermittent heavy rain it was nice to get out and find three, possibly four, species of HelvellaH. lacunosa in its various guises being the most evident with a careful bit of searching.

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, pp. 602-605, 608.
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. 207-208.
Skrede, I., Carlsen, T. and Schumacher, T. (2017). A synopsis of the saddle fungi (Helvella: Ascomycota) in Europe - species delimitation, taxonomy and typification, Persoonia. 39, pp. 201-253.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, pp. 310-313.