Category Archives: Parasitic Fungi

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.

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 🙂

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….