Category Archives: Tramps Fungal

It’s Botany! It’s not Walkthebloomin’Dogany!

It is hard to write a nature blog in January. Today I have been focussed on botany but for all of her admirers I will start you off with a little walkthebloomin’Dogany.

Fizz has a new game. I throw the ball and she chases it. Then, when any proper Dog would bring it back to me with a wagging tail, Fizz lies down and waits for me to catch up and tickle her before she will give it up.


Is that what your Dog does?

No! I didn’t think so.

We went up to the wood today to see if the Lesser Celandine was going to flower in January. No chance. The flower buds are there but they haven’t grown at all.

Lesser CelandineI am not really surprised, it didn’t flower until late February last year and although I am hoping it will be earlier this year, I didn’t really expect it to be a month earlier.

Now I will just show you this little fungus that I found. This is Scarlet Elf Cup.

Scarlet Elf CupIt isn’t a great example so I am not really going to write about it. I know where we found it and I will look out for better samples. It is a nice splash of colour in an otherwise drab post.

Scarlet Elf CupAnother wildflower that is on the cusp is Dog’s Mercury

Dog's MercuryThese are not the flowers but the buds, they are not ready to open yet.

Dog's MercuryThe most exciting thing that has happened to me in the last couple of days (Shut up! Fizz!). The most exciting thing has been finding these beautifully marked leaves of the Arum maculatum.

Wild ArumIt is quite common to find blotched markings on the leaves of Wild Arum but when I came to write about it, I kind of let that information slide. I didn’t have the photographs to illustrate it, so I left it out.

I leave a lot of stuff out of my posts for exactly this reason. Nobody ever comments, “Hey Col, you didn’t show the development of the seed pods.” I didn’t have the pictures but I am aware of what I leave out and I will get the pictures next time around.

Wild Arum

Wild ArumThis is the youngest Arum maculatum that I have ever photographed.

Wild ArumToday I wrote about a wildflower with evergreen leaves, well evervariegated leaves and I will show you in a minute. I had to delve back into my picture from last year and I found a lot of good stuff for this flower, that I had taken last January.

While I was there I had a look at what else I was doing last January and these next pictures are from exactly a year ago.

It is quite funny really, regular readers will understand what I mean. It seems that the season dictates my actions. A year ago today I was messing about in the woods.

Rotten Apples

Trail CameraI was pretty sure then and still think so today, that although it is indistinct, that is the print of a Wild Boar.

Print..and I got a lot of Fallow Deer.


Fallow DeerThe other thing that I found amazing, exactly one year ago, guess what was in the garden?

Long -tailed TitsYes! Bumbarrels! They hardly ever visit but at exactly the same time last year.

BTW. This time last year the weather was a lot worse than it is now.


WetSo today I wrote about a wildflower called Variegated Yellow Archangel. I know that it is a bit of a mouthful and the Latin doesn’t help. I am writing about it now because it is evergreen and although the flowers are a long way off you very well may see the foliage now. It is quite distinct and easy to recognise.

Before I show you the variegated variety let me just show you this.

This is our native Yellow Archangel.

Yellow Archangel

and the Non-native.

Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum, The Variegated Yellow Archangel.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)Variegated Yellow Archangel is a type of Dead-nettle. Also known as Garden Archangel, it is a close relative of our native Yellow Archangel looking quite similar but with variegated leaves.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)It is a garden escapee having been introduced into this country in the 1940’s and first recorded in the wild in the 1980’s.

It was introduced as a ground cover plant as it has attractive variegated leaves that are evergreen or semi-evergreen. It spreads by runners and covers areas quickly.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)In the UK it is considered to be invasive and a threat to our ancient woodland plant species but just how invasive it is remains a question still unanswered.

This Archangel doesn’t seem to be having a great impact on our ancient woodlands. It seems to prefer the woodland edge and not to be spreading into the woods. My own observations are of Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemones and Bluebells growing freely amongst Variegated Yellow Archangel and the plant does seem to be restricted to the edge.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)The seed produced by the plant is said to be infertile and this limits it’s ability to spread into new areas. Most commonly, when it is introduced into a new area it is the work of man, either deliberately introducing it to beautify our woodland or through the dumping of garden waste or soil. New plants can arise from just a small piece of root.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)Summer leaves appear to be mostly green, marked with silver but winter foliage is often quite red.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)However the colour can vary quite a lot.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)The leaves are quite hairy on the top surface and less so underneath.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)That is the winter foliage, in April the flowers arrive.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)Like other Dead-nettles the flowers grow in whorls around a square, central stem with the lower ones opening first.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)The petals are fused into a corolla that forms a tube with a hood above the opening and a three lobed lip. the central lobe of the bottom lip is striped with orange markings.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)The hood is quite hairy.  Under the hood there are four stamens, two long and two short.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)In the centre of the stamens there is a downward pointing spike. It’s purpose may be to trigger the release of pollen when it is touched by an insect. The flowers are a source of nectar and pollen.

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum) Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)   Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)   Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)


Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Lamiales

Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Lamium

Species: Lamium galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum

Variegated Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum)Wildflowers in winter 🙂

Botany Schmotany!

FizzThere is an Angel looking over you. That flower is poisonous. Spit!

Shaggy Scalycap and The Lemondrop Kid

Great! Which one do you want to be?

Shut up!

FizzOkay but you don’t get the ball till you tickle my tummy.

FizzThis is going to be a post about fungi and flowers.

Fizz and I went out with the intention of shooting some vines. I want to write about Clematis vitalba, Wild Clematis, Old Man’s Beard, Travellers Joy, you know the one.

I want pictures of the stems. They hang like vines in the trees and their sheer weight can bring a tree down. Old vines are as thick as your wrist. It is an important aspect of the species that nobody ever mentions and , you know me, I have got to show this if I am going to write about the plant. I need the pictures but no luck yet, I have not really found good examples and it is too dark.

The first picture of the Robin in my last post, the bird is sitting on just such a vine.

So I was looking and I found some mushrooms.

Shaggy ScalycapI don’t know this species. That is a good thing, I love to find things that I don’t know, that is the only way to learn.

I think that it looks like a Honey Fungus but if it is, it is one that I do not know.

Shaggy Scalycap

Shaggy ScalycapI looked on the internet and all of the images that I saw suggested that this was Dark Honey Fungus but that is baloney, I know that species well.

I went out to collect samples and on the way back I met the local mushroom expert.

When I say expert, he is in his eighties and his knowledge comes from…… well he just makes it up. He told me that these were Parasol Mushrooms and that they were very good to eat. They are not.

I know the Parasol very well and it is nothing like this but I like the old fellow.

A few weeks ago he called me over and asked me if I could recognise a Chanterelle, I can but I was hesitant because I knew what was coming.

“You don’t sound very sure.” he said, “Come over here and I’ll show you.”

He has been eating these mushrooms for years and I am not sure what they are (not Chanterelles) but they haven’t killed him. These mushrooms had gills, Chanterelles don’t. He asked me to look out for them on my travels, “worth a fortune. Let me know where you find them.”

The thing that slightly alarmed me was that he told me that he had taken his wife to one of the best local restaurants and while he was there he had sold a small bag of his “Chanterelles” to the chef for twenty pounds.

I really like this man but his knowledge comes from a different place than mine.

Hardly any UK mushrooms are actually dangerous and anyway he has made it to eighty five.

Going back to my mushrooms, I had to seek expert help and I sent off these pictures asking if this was a Honey Fungus.

Shaggy Scalycap

Shaggy Scalycap

Shaggy Scalycap

Shaggy Scalycap

Shaggy ScalycapThe answer that came back was, “No, it’s a Shaggy Scalycap but you can check this. The Honey fungi all have a white spore print,  Pholiota squarrosa has a cinnamon brown spore print.”

Well, this is how we learn things.

Muddy Paw Prints (spore prints)

I am only tickling you to keep you happy, I have got another ball.

More anyway!


Shaggy Scalycap spore printThe first results were not great but pretty soon they were leaving muddy paw prints all over the kitchen and Fizz was happy.

Shaggy Scalycap spore print

Shaggy Scalycap spore print

Shaggy Scalycap spore print

FizzShaggy Scalycap, Pholiota squarrosa.

Shaggy ScalycapThe same mushrooms one week later.

Shaggy ScalycapIt used to be classed as edible but it is now recognised as poisonous. Poisonings have only been recorded when this fungus is consumed with alcohol and then the symptoms occurred about ten hours later and included vomiting and diarrhoea (not a killer).

Shaggy ScalycapIt is a saprobic fungus, feeding on dead wood but also an opportunistic parasite. It can only attack a live tree if another fungi  has weakened it first.

Shaggy ScalycapNow then, just recently Fizz has been exhibiting some unusual behaviour, possibly something to do with her celebrity status. When she gets hold of the ball she rolls over on her back and won’t give it back until she gets tickled.

FizzShe does this every time that we go out and it has become a feature of our walks. I don’t think that this is normal behaviour for a dog.

And The Lemondrop Kid, well I don’t know but this is definitely not The Scarlet Pimpernel…

Lysimachia nemorum, The Yellow Pimpernel

Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum)Like it’s cousin the Scarlet Pimpernel the Yellow Pimpernel belongs to the Primrose family but that is about all that they have in common.

The Yellow Pimpernel is a shade tolerant woodland plant. In fact the second part of it’s scientific name, nemorum, comes from the Latin word nemorus and means “of the woods.”

Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum)It has five stamens around a single style and it has five petals.

Note the pointed shape of the petals this helps to distinguish it from it’s close relative L. nummularia, Creeping Jenny whose yellow petals are much more rounded and also closer together.

Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum)The leaves are oval and pointed.

Yellow Pimpernel pant (Lysimachia nemorum)Yellow Pimpernel flowers from May until the end of August.

Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum) Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum)   Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum)   Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum)


Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Ericales

Family: Primulaceae

Genus: Lysimachia

Species: Lysimachia nemorum

Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum)

Yellow Pimpernel plant (Lysimachia nemorum)Wildflowers in winter.

A Beautiful Orange Theme (Slime Alert!)

It is going to be orange because the next flower that I am going to write about is not called the Orange Pimpernel.

I do know some very pretty orange things, like the Small Copper butterfly…

Small Copper Butterflyand of course I know cute things…

Like, “Puppy with an Orange ball.”

FizzToday I thought that we could do “Interesting Things” instead.

So to start us off, this is a Blushing Bracket fungus.

Blushing BracketIt is an attractive fungus and it is quite orange.

Bracket Fungus

Blushing BracketDaedaleopsis confragosa is a polypore fungus, that means that it doesn’t have gills on the underside, it has pores and this species has quite big pores.

Blushing Bracket undersideThe reason it is called a “Blushing” Bracket is because it is easy to make it blush.

To be sure of success I enlisted the help of an ex military man (22 years Airborne) for this short video, just the sort of fellow you need to make a bracket blush. (I didn’t have any sailors around.)

(and it worked)

Blushing Bracket.That is the bracket, what I really wanted to show you was something that I found eating it.

Leopard SlugI know that I said that I wouldn’t do cute but I just can’t help myself. This is absolutely my favourite slug. What’s yours?

It is not exactly orange but the pictures have an orange feel about them.

So what would you like to know about Limax maximus? I mean first, what would you like to know first? 🙂

Leopard SlugIt is a friend to gardeners. It doesn’t eat living plants but feeds on dead plants and fungi, it is also carnivorous.

Like it’s namesake the Leopard, it prowls the garden hunting down other slug species, that would damage your plants, and eating them. (Top speed, six inches per hour)

(Wikiwotsit lists it as being a major agricultural pest in the US but if you follow the notes you will see that they have got their species mixed up.)

Just to tell you a little bit about slug anatomy, the colourful, saddle like structure behind the head is called the mantle and that houses all of the vital organs. The rest of the slug is just one big locomotive muscle, what you might call a foot.

Leopard SlugThe slug has a breathing hole on the right side of it’s mantle called a pneumostome.

Leopard Slug pneumostomeThe organs coming out of it’s head are called tentacles, it has four of them which it can retract.

The top pair are it’s eyes and the bottom pair are for smelling.

Leopard SlugFinally on anatomy, you have probably guessed that slugs are related to snails. They are both Gastropods, in fact a slug is just a snail without a shell but Limax maximus does have a small internal shell.

You can see it best in this next picture it is the small white lump at the back and base of it’s mantle.

Leopard SlugI can’t show you it’s mouth parts they are concealed below it’s pretty face but at least you can see why I like it.

Leopard Slug

Leopard SlugLeopard Slugs have a fantastic and unique sex life that I haven’t had a chance to photograph yet. David Attenborough did some great film for the BBC that doesn’t seem to be available any more but I am sure that if you were to search for “Slug sex videos” you would find some more information. (that is how I stumbled upon them)

Leopard SlugSo now, an orange wildflower.

Anagallis arvensis, The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)The Scarlet Pimpernel is a beautiful little wild flower of meadows and waste land,

But.. Your eyes do not deceive you, it is orange, it is not scarlet.

It should be noted that the English word “Orange” comes from the fruit of the same name and the fruit and colour were not known here until the sixteenth century.

So the Scarlet Pimpernel is a lovely little orange flower, with a purple centre and bright yellow anthers. There is also a naturally occurring blue variety but that is more common in Mediterranean countries and rare in the UK.

Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)The flower has five stamens surrounding a single style.

Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)The stamens are covered in small white and purple hairs. It is thought that these might serve to attract insects as the flower does not produce nectar.

Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)The leaves grow in opposite pairs, they are oval with smooth edges.

Scarlet Pimpernel leaves (Anagallis arvensis)

Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)The flower has several common names such as the Shepherd’s Weather-glass and Poor Man’s Barometer that relate to it’s weather forecasting abilities.

It closes at night and opens late in the morning but it will only open in full sun and as soon as it clouds over the flower closes again and forecasts rain.

Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)

Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis) Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)   Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)   Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)


Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Ericales

Family: Primulaceae

Genus: Anagallis

Species: Anagallis arvensis

Scarlet Pimpernel flower (Anagallis arvensis)

Wildflowers in winter.

Get off the log! (Again)

It was a beautiful day today.

November DayIt really was a day for shirtsleeves. It is hard to believe that it is nearly December.

November DayWhat was really great was that this wonderful weather coincided with National “Take your Idiot to Work” Day.

I picked up the nearest idiot and off we went. We are going fungus shooting.

SelfieWe are going back up to the Sweet Chestnut coppice because there was so much to see up there. In fact today I shot about six species but I am only going to show you one in this post because I am still working on identifying the others.

Today’s fungi is Sulphur Tuft, Hypholoma fasciculare and it is a pretty one. In fact I think that this one was invented by Walt Disney and appeared in several of his films before escaping from his studios and becoming the familiar woodland mushroom that we know today.

Here are some old photographs. The first from last February and the other two are from some years back.

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur TuftThat growing formation is very typical of this species. It is called Sulphur Tuft because it is sulphur in colour and it grows in tufts. The specimen that I found today was not typical in it’s growth habit, being very spread out but I have had my ID checked by the experts.

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

IdiotGet off the log!

IdiotSo let us have a closer look at this beautiful fungi.

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft



Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft

AssistantAs always Fizz was a great help to me and I probably couldn’t have got any of these pictures without her 🙂

Look up! That’s November.November Sky

Long ShadowsI have some other beautiful fungi and some shockingly bad behaviour still to show you but I must work on my ID’s first.

Corruption and Decay in Darkest England

Now with new improved Fizz.

By the time Fizz and I got out yesterday it was getting dark and there was no chance of getting any decent pictures. This morning it seemed a bit brighter and we decided to have another try.

FogThis fog was to the South and on the hills. First we are heading North to Badger Alley, it is not so bad there.

Yesterday I found some more Oysterlings and I want a chance to photograph them.

Badger AlleyI have heard Oysterlings described as the most photogenic of fungi and I didn’t think that when I found them growing on slimy green vegetation.




OysterlingsThese look quite a bit nicer. These mushrooms have got legs, there are lots of little ones still to come so I shall be back to visit these again soon.

So that is the Oysterlings. Next….

Don’t eat yellow snow!

Remember our Pear-shaped Puffballs?

Pear-shaped PuffballI told you that all Puffballs were edible but that you must cut them and make sure that they are pure white inside. I need to show you what I mean.

I am reluctant to take another one of these as I want to watch them mature and decay but this is an important stage in their development. So selecting the biggest one….

Pear-shaped PuffballThis one has started to yellow. You shouldn’t eat them like this.

Pear-shaped Puffball

Pear-shaped PuffballNow this isn’t where we are going today. Fizz and I are going back up to the Sweet Chestnut Coppice to look at the Honey mushrooms that we saw about two weeks ago. The coppice is up there in the fog.

FogI have to keep Fizz off the road as much as possible so we are going through the fields. Here are your Fizz shots for today.

FizzI am afraid that I have already got her messed up a bit and she is no longer “fresh back from the cleaners.”

Fizz in Fog.



FizzEventually we have to take to the road but we have by-passed the narrowest parts.



FogOnce we get up here we are safe and can walk on the grass.

FogHere is the wood we have come to visit. You can just tell that the light in there is going to be perfect for photography.

FogThis is what I have to put up with every day in England!

I quite like fog it is better than constant rain 🙂

So where did we leave that tree?

FogSo here is our first fungi in the coppice. This is Hairy Curtain Crust, Stereum hirsutum. This grows all over the world and you will find it in Australia and North America. It is very common and we will see a lot more in the next couple of months.

Hairy Curtain Crust

Hairy Curtain Crust

Hairy Curtain CrustWho is rocking the log!

A IdiotWhat sort of an idiot are you? Just asking.

A IdiotGet off the log.

A IdiotHairy Curtain Crust.

Hairy Curtain CrustNotice that she was on a lead in those last pictures. I have just heard an animal moving about in the woods. We don’t get to see it. It was probably Deer, there are a lot of them around here but there are also Wild Boar and Boar would be dangerous for Fizz. (they might knock her off her log) She is safe so long as she stays close.

My next find is a stinker.

Stinkhorn FungusPhallus impudicus, this is a Stinkhorn Fungus and it is living up to it’s name. I don’t often find them with the gleba intact like this (Gleba is the disgusting bit), flies are usually quick to eat that bit but I guess in Winter there are not so many flies around. This specimen has been hanging about for a bit and is truly repulsive.

Stinkhorn FungusI want to have a closer look. I am a boy and I like disgusting things 🙂

I need to dig it up and see it’s egg.

Stinkhorn FungusSadly it broke when I lifted it. The stem is very hard and brittle.

Stinkhorn FungusInside the stem is sitting in the egg but does not seem to be attached to it in any way.

Stinkhorn FungusIt just slides out.

Stinkhorn FungusThe jelly like egg remains.

Stinkhorn FungusUp at the other end the stem didn’t seem to have any attachment to the cap either. The cap just slid off and slimed everywhere and it stank.

Stinkhorn FungusInteresting but that’s enough of that.

Let’s move on to the Pigskin Poison Puffball.

These are the decaying remains of the Common Earthball,  Scleroderma citrinum.

Common EarthballQuite a few of them had opened like cups and now contain a soup of poisonous spores and rainwater. (I need to photograph all aspects of a fungi’s development.)

Common Earthball

Common Earthball

Common Earthball

Common EarthballThen finally we found our Honey Fungus. That too was decaying.

Honey FungusI was very interested to find that my Honey Fungus, Armillaria ostoyae was itself being attacked by another fungus. This is some kind of parasitic fungi. I don’t expect to be able to get an ID on it but I am trying to find out more as we speak.

One expert has already advised me to collect some in a tupperware container and see what develops. Hmm….. Not sure that I am ready for the responsibility of keeping another pet.

If I find out anything then I shall let you know.

Honey Fungus

Honey Fungus

Honey Fungus

Honey Fungus

Honey FungusDid I tell you that Winter cut really suits you? You look lovely.

(Ha ha! I remembered to read the back of my hand)

FizzCome on. Let’s go home before the Boar get us 🙂


Oysterlings, Tremella and Puffballs (and a spore print)

Shhh! It’s early and we don’t want to wake the house up. There is a clear starry, starry sky and the promise of a  decent frost when morning comes.

Fizz and I have been finding good mushrooms over the last couple of days and there is time to show you some of them before the frost.

This is the first one that caught my eye.

OysterlingThey are growing on the stem of a Stinging Nettle and whilst it is common to find brackets on dead wood I don’t often find them growing on green plant material, Oysterlings do though. They can even form on dead leaves. They must have a very quick life cycle. There is no chance of keeping one of these as a pet as their home will rot and disappear very soon.

There are quite a few Oysterling species, they belong to the genus Crepidotus. Many of the species can only be identified under a microscope by looking at the shape of the spores. You might see this one identified elsewhere as a Variable Oysterling but without pictures of the spores that is just a guess, there are other common species that look identical. It is just an Oysterling.





OysterlingI think that the plant matter that  this one is growing on is just a more decayed nettle stem.

OysterlingThat is Oysterlings, moving along the track, here is one that would make an excellent pet.

Tremella mesentericaYou know what that is, don’t you? Tremella mesenterica, that is our Yellow Brain Fungus. I was just captivated by the way that it is pushing out from under the bark. I think that the wood is Ash, given that it is a large branch under an Ash tree.

Tremella mesenterica

Tremella mesenterica

Tremella mesenterica

Tremella mesentericaThese next mushrooms are puffballs.

Pear-shaped PuffballsYes, good Dog. Get out of the tree.

Pear-shaped PuffballsThese are Stump Puffballs also called Pear-shaped Puffballs,  Lycoperdon pyriforme and the second part of that Latin name literally means Pear-shaped.

Pear-shaped PuffballsPuffballs are great because you can eat them and they are very good. There are no poisonous Puffballs, they are all good so it is a really good one for beginners.

Pear-shaped PuffballsWhat you do have to do is cut them open. Inside they should be pure creamy white. Once they start to yellow they are no good, don’t eat those.

Pear-shaped PuffballsWhenever people talk about eating puffballs they give the following warnings.

The Common Earthball (poisonous) can be mistaken for a Puffball.

Common EarthballYou must cut your Puffball to ensure that it is white and so long as you do that you will never mistake an Earthball for a Puffball.

Common EarthballAlso Immature Amanitas (Very poisonous) look a bit like Puffballs.

Fly AgaricThis picture isn’t brilliantly clear but, same thing, inside you will find stem and gills forming and not the smooth white texture of a puffball.

Fly AgaricIf you cut your Puffball and you must, then you can’t go wrong.

There were lots of other fungi out there but I don’t have time, morning is coming and yes it is a hard frost 🙂

Just quickly, “how to take a spore print.”

This is nothing to do with examining spores under a microscope, we can’t see the shape of them with naked eyes but very often the colour of the spores can be a good clue to identify a species.

Spore PrintI am not going to get this one to species. It is a nice mature Agaricus. It could be a Field Mushroom but it doesn’t quite fit the bill, it isn’t growing in a field and it smells of aniseed. That doesn’t matter to me, it will do well to illustrate my spore print.

Spore PrintSo cut off the stem and lay the cap, gills down on a piece of paper (Card might have been better). A lot of people recommend using black paper because the spores are often light in colour, I know what to expect from this one so I have gone with white.

Spore PrintIt is best to cover the cap with a bowl. It is going to drop spores anyway but that will stop them from being disturbed.

Spore PrintI left this overnight and I got a good heavy print that left me in no doubt to the spore colour.

Spore PrintSometimes people want to take a print for artistic purposes and I thought that my heavy print had lost a lot of detail. You can fix the spores in place with a dusting of hairspray, just be careful not to blast them away with your spray.

Spore PrintSo I did another one and I left this for just one hour. I could have done many more as heavy as I liked. You need a mature open mushroom to do this.

Spore PrintNow I have got to go and get the Dog cold. The UK is under (what we call) extreme weather conditions and the whole country will probably “grind to a halt” shortly. That is what we usually do when leaves fall off trees or it gets a bit chilly. It is a good “Coping Mechanism” and then we sit indoors and have toast 🙂

Where’s my presents!


“Happy Birthday to me, Happy birthday to me.”

It is not your fault, I didn’t say but she knew.

FizzYou can’t give somebody “yourself” as a Birthday present. That’s not a proper present!

FizzI got up early today to get my chores done. Wash the kitchen floor, quick hoover round, get the place nice and “don’t forget to get the dog dirty.”

I’ll get my own presents.

This is one of my favourite spring flowers. Greater Stitchwort,  Stellaria holostea. Pay attention to that Latin name and I will show you some other Stellaria in a minute.

Greater Stitchwort

Greater Stitchwort

Greater StitchwortThis beautiful flower has just five petals but each one is split to about halfway.

Stellaria holosteaObviously if there is a Greater Stitchwort then there must be a Lesser one.

Some people get confused between the species. This is the lesser one. Stellaria graminea.

Lesser StitchwortIt still only has five petals but now they are much more deeply divided and spaced apart. The flower is smaller than the Greater one.

Lesser Stitchwort

Lesser StitchwortIf there is a greater one and a lesser one then there is probably an inconsequential one too. We call it Common Chickweed.

Stellaria media.

Common ChickweedPeople call this one a weed (Bless) all of my flowers are weeds and this one is quite tiny. It still has the family resemblance and it is beautiful.

Common Chickweed

Common ChickweedWell thank you so much Fizz. That was just what I wanted, a bunch of flowers.

FizzA bit cheap though. I know you don’t got money but you could have stole some.

That is not the whole story of my Birthday.

Fizz and I went out to look at mushrooms and I found a good example of Trametes versicolour.

TurkeytailThat’s a Turkeytail Fungus.

TurkeytailI couldn’t get a decent photograph because I just couldn’t keep it still. I turned around and somebody was eating the other end of the branch!


FizzWho is raggin’ on my tree?

It wasn’t me 🙂FizzI can’t believe that you would do that to me on my Birthday.

Who? What?

FizzThank you for the days.


Jew’s Ear?

I don’t like that name  It is a corruption of Judas’s Ear and comes from the idea that Judas hanged himself from an Elder tree. It is very unlikely that Judas did choose an Elder, they don’t grow very tall and they just don’t have the right growth habit for suicide.

I don’t think that there is any mention of an Elder Tree in the New Testament (Scholars of the Bible feel free to correct me). The idea that an Elder was involved stems from fourteenth century English literature. A time when it was the practice to malign trees as well as people. It was the oppression of Paganism because Pagans worshipped trees.

Now I am not Anti-Semitic and I quite like Pagans and their trees, so I have two reasons for not liking the name Jew’s Ear.

It is hard to escape though because the Latin name is  Auricularia auricula-judae. From the Latin Auricula meaning “Ear,” It is an Ear Ear-Judas.

That Latin is in itself wrong because the rules of taxonomy (Binomial nomenclature) say that a species name can comprise of only two words but they have got around that by adding a hyphen. Some people still refer to this species as Auricularia auricula which is actually more correct and drops all of the oppressive connotations.

‘Ere ‘Ere!

Wood EarWell it does look a bit like an ear.

Other common names for this fungus are Jelly Ear and Wood Ear. It is a Jelly Fungus and it does grow on wood, so they are both good names.

Imagine finding Ears…

Wood Ear….and brains, at the same time.

Purple Jelly DiscYou would be looking around for Nose Fungus next. (My apologies to anyone who has actually got nose fungus)

Wood Ear

Wood EarSo where does the Elder Tree come into this?

Well you will almost always find it growing on Elder. 90% of the time, it does grow on other wood like Sycamore, Beech and Spindle but nearly always you will find it on Elder.

It is saprobic, it mostly feeds on dead wood but occasionally parasitic too.

Wood Ear

Wood Ear

Wood Ear

Wood EarTechnically it is edible but nobody eats it in the West. (it is a “wont’t kill you but is horrible” type). It has a history of  use in Herbal Medicine where it has long been used specifically to cure sore throats (Boil in milk and gargle with it).  I think that this is probably nonsense based on the idea that Judas would have had a sore throat when he hanged himself.

It is widely eaten in the East. There is a Chinese culture of serving medicines in food and a medicinal soup is made from this fungi to cure colds and fevers.

Wood Ear

Wood Ear

Wood EarWhat else can I tell you?

When the fruit dies it looks like this.

Wood EarThat is my little Wood Ear.

Now a Pixie must be looking for these..Wood Ear

My Precocious little Tremella mesenterica.

My lease says, “No Pets!” So it probably goes without saying that my pets can’t have pets either. Try telling a Yellow Brain Fungus that 🙂

It is raining today. Fizz and I have been out for hours but taking photographs was difficult so today I am not going to write “The Hunt For Red November,” which is what our walk turned into, I am going to tell you a different story.

Cast your mind back to March. Fizz and I were just little puppies then with all of the Spring and Summer to look forward to. We were exploring the sheep pasture when we found some interesting sticks under an old Oak tree.

Yellow Brain FungusThis stick contains a fungus known as Yellow Brain Fungus or Tremella mesenterica.

Yellow Brain Fungus

Yellow Brain Fungus

Yellow Brain FungusIt is an interesting Jelly fungus because although it lives in dead wood it does not feed on the wood, it is parasitic on crust fungi that are also in the wood.

I brought my sticks home to live with me for future observation and also because I sometimes get lonely and I thought that it would be nice to have a pet of my own.

SticksThe other sticks in this picture are possessed by a fungi called Black Witches Butter, I will tell their story another day.

Just as with any new pet I taught it basic obedience. I taught it to “Stay.” That was the only thing that it really picked up.

Then at the beginning of March I put it on a shed roof just outside of my front door and told it to stay. A grape vine grew over it and I forgot about it until yesterday. Eight months later my obedient stick was right where I had left it.

It had developed a new fruit body.

Yellow Brain FungusThis fruit is a very different colour because it is wet. As it dries out the colour gets darker and the one that I found in March was quite dry. I am very happy to see it like this, it has added to my knowledge of Yellow Brain Fungi 🙂

Yellow Brain Fungus

Yellow Brain Fungus

Yellow Brain FungusBut this is not what this post is about…..

Down at the other end of the stick something else was going on.

Tremella mesenterica stickNow I have a stick that is possessed by a yellow fungi and so I naturally assumed that the yellow “happening” at the end of the stick was another aspect of my T. mesenterica.

It doesn’t look like Yellow Brain Fungus but what are the chances of my stick being owned by two different yellow species?

Slime Mould

Slime MouldI keep my brains in a stick on the shed roof, I had to seek expert help and after a bit of head scratching this is what they told me…

You do indeed have two different species in your stick Colin. That what you are watching is a slime mould just beginning to form.

My Brain Fungus has a pet of it’s own.

Slime Mould

Slime MouldSlime Moulds are amoebas, single cell organisms. They are very similar to fungi and used to be classified as such but now they belong to a different Kingdom altogether, the Amoebozoa.

Like Fungi they reproduce through spores and they eat organic matter but unlike fungi they can move.

When food is abundant slime moulds only exist as single cell organisms but when food is in short supply they can send out a signal to all the other little slime moulds that calls them all together. They congregate into a bigger organism that can detect new food supplies.

That is what we are watching. The Slime Moulds are having a party 🙂

AmoebozoaWhen I checked on them this morning they had transformed themselves.

Slime MouldI am sorry about the quality of these pictures but it really is dark and wet here and I have to photograph this now, as it happens.

Slime MouldA couple of hours later it is evident that they are still moving.

Slime MouldWhere are they going? Do they want us to follow them? Is Little Timmy trapped down a well somewhere?

Hang on Timmy! Help is on the way. (Hmm… Slime Moulds move quite slowly, I am afraid Little Timmy is out of luck)

Nevertheless we shall follow it.

Slime MouldI have no idea what species this is but we may be able to find out when it is more fully formed or at least find out something more about it.

So that has been one of the highlights of my day. I am hoping for better weather tomorrow. Until then….


A Guelder Rose but no Gorillas.

We had to revise our plan for today. It was a bit misty.

It just seemed too dangerous to take Fizz out on the road, we could get knocked over and traumatise a motorist.

There was a little dog sitting underneath my window who wanted me to come out and play..

FizzPlan B then. The fog was coming down heavy. We would go and look for Gorillas in the mist (that’s where they live. Right?)

MistI put Fizz in charge of watching the trees, we don’t want anything jumping down on us and I was in charge of the little things.

MistThe first little thing that I found was rose hips, from a proper rose a Dog Rose.

Rose hipsBut not all of those berries are tasty rose hips, some of them are Black Bryony.

Black BryonyWe are going to see a lot of berries today.

MistHawthorn berries are everywhere.


Hawthorn berriesThis next little mushroom is one of the Mycena. That is a genus of fungi with several hundred species. Many of which can only be separated with a microscope. I can’t get it to species from these pictures but it is a pretty one. These are often collectively referred to as Bonnets.

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified FungiKeep watching the trees please!

MistI am bent over examining the ground and at any moment something big might jump down and land on my back with a thump. What’s my lookout doing?

Lookout FizzMessing about! Although, I am not sure how much she can see out of her haircut anyway.

Lookout FizzThere are many more berries to come. These are Black Bryony again. The profusion of these poisonous berries delights me.

Black Bryony

Black BryonyAll around I am seeing signs of winter. These Ivy berries will be a feature of January when they have ripened.

Ivy Berries

Ivy Berries

Ivy Berries

Ivy BerriesLambs Tails are forming on the Hazel ready for January too.

Hazel CatkinBehind these catkins is the plant that we have come to see.

I first photographed these berries in January, there were far fewer berries then and there were no leaves on the tree. I didn’t know what it was and so I told myself that I would come and look at it in the summer and then I forgot.

Guelder Rose This time we have leaves.

Guelder Rose These are the fruits of the Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus.

Guelder Rose It is a member of the Adoxaceae family. That means that it is related more closely to the Elder tree and the lovely little Town Hall Clock than to the roses.

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose Well, I have missed the green leaves of summer and the white flowers that would have bloomed in June but at least we have got the berries and we know what it is.

These actually look like they must be related to Elderberries, don’t you think?

Viburnum opulusThis post just goes on and on, I just want to show you one more thing and then we will head back.

We are right at the end of Badger Alley now and this is where I think that the Beast of Badger Alley lives. On one side of the track there is woodland.

WoodlandOn the other side of the track there is impenetrable scrub. This is a tangle of Brambles, Hawthorn, Blackthorn anything with thorns on it.

Last winter I tried to press into this scrub, just a little bit to photograph some bright rose hips and as I went in an animal was startled and went crashing deeper into the bush. It was making more noise than me, it was big. Not a Fox, it was the Beast of Badger Alley but I didn’t see it, I only heard it moving.

ScrubOkay we had better hurry back now.

Just ignore the pretty little bird. It is just guarding it’s territory.


RobinI took loads of pictures of this Common Hogweed but we will rush past this one as well.


HogweedAnd the last thing that we won’t look at will be little Herb Robert.

Herb Robert

Herb Robert

Herb RobertThat’s it. We were out for ages and we still didn’t see a Gorilla. Maybe Fizz scared them all off.


FizzI was going to show you how muddy she was when I dropped her off but you can probably guess.

Muddy Fizz


17/11 Update: We received a tip off from the very kind Mar’yana Svarnyk in the comments section, advising us to take a look at the beautiful red seeds of the Guelder Rose. Thank you so much. (These pictures will be in my upcoming post, “The hunt for Red November” but also here for anyone searching for Guelder Rose)

Guelder Rose Berries

Guelder Rose Berries and seeds

Guelder Rose seedsTake care when extracting the seeds, I recommend wearing eye protection. The fruits are very juicy.

Guelder Rose juice