fungi

Fungi for Beginners!

This is the time of year when the Welsh countryside is in eclipse (in temporary decline), the leaves shrivel and fall, the berries drop or are eaten, the nuts hidden away by squirrels and jays, the swallows and martins are gone and the other birds have gone quiet. The waters are muddied by heavy rain and the clouds roll in from the west. Even the wasp’s nest in the shed falls silent.

But look again!

This is the season for fungi.

Honey fungus in the wood, bad news for this old hazel. Suddenly, everywhere there are strange fruiting bodies of the hidden silent mycelia that infiltrate the whole of our natural world and surround us.

We have been trying to identify just a few of the species we have seen recently and are accumulating vast picture files of “unidentified” fungi — so many, so transient, so changeable and so tricky to pin down but at least they sit still while you photograph them.

Some are easier to identify than others!

Stinkhorn — Phallus inpudicus

Like these Stinkhorns — the rude and smelly fungi of yore, still attracting flies who stamp their little feet in the glebal goo and spread the spores to other smelly places that flies frequent. Follow your nose and you will find they are quite common!

Not being an expert and only just starting it is the more easily identified fruiting bodies that will figure initially — these saprophytes and parasites are often named with a nod to their appearance, location and preferred host.

Scleroderma citrinum — Common Earthball

Scleroderma citrinum — Common Earthball (underside)

These balls grow in the earth attached at the base by coarse white mycelial strands. These were in the New Forest under beech trees.

Common Earthball — ruptured.

They rupture irregularly to release their spores

Genus Lycoperdon — Puffball

All the different puffballs are still a mystery, they differ from earthballs in tapering to a stout, stem like base but are many and varied and difficult to sort out! These were seen in the grave yard at the ancient cistercian abbey of Strata Florida in Mid Wales — if you recognize the type please tell me!

Lycoperdon utriforme — Mosaic Puffball

Here’s another conundrum — some sort of Cup Fungus from the New Forest but which?

Mystery Cup Fungus — seen in October
Cuphophylus (Hygrocybe) pratensis — Meadow Waxcap

Another common one is the meadow waxcap, in meadows (you see!) and with a very waxy appearance, as it matures it turns itself inside out and often splits and distorts giving it a spooky look — common around Halloween!

Happy fungus hunting!

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