Category Archives: Saprobic 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!

Fizz

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)

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Ericales

Family: Primulaceae

Genus: Lysimachia

Species: Lysimachia nemorum

Yellow Pimpernel flower (Lysimachia nemorum)

Yellow Pimpernel plant (Lysimachia nemorum)Wildflowers in winter.

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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)

Taxonomy:

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

Idiot

Idiot

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.

Oysterlings

Oysterlings

Oysterlings

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.

Fizz

Fizz

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

Fog

Fog

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 🙂

Fizz

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.

Oysterling

5

Oysterling

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 🙂

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

Dark Honey

At last I have found something really exciting.

I have dragged Fizz up to look  at some old Sweet Chestnut coppice and she isn’t over excited because we have to walk on the road and there isn’t any playing ball as we go.

It is okay once we reach the wood.

CoppiceThe floor is thick with the Sweet Chestnut leaves. These leaves contain toxins that inhibit the growth of other plants but some things do well here and we will have a look at them when we return tomorrow.

FizzThis is what I have found.

Dark Honey FungusArmillaria ostoyae. It is the same Honey Fungus that used to grow in woodland that I owned some years ago.

I wrote a post about it recently About Honey Monsters using pictures that I had taken years ago. I am excited to have the opportunity to photograph it again and that is why we are going back for another look tomorrow.

When I saw it today I had a good idea what it was but I couldn’t get proper confirmation until I got home, it has been a few years since I found one of these. There are some key identification features that I still want to photograph and we could eat it.

I probably won’t eat it just because I like to see it on the tree but I will try a little bit just to see if I have a reaction and then I can eat it next time. You should always try a little bit first if you haven’t eaten a species before.

Here are some of the pictures that I took today.

Dark Honey Fungus

Dark Honey Fungus

Dark Honey Fungus

Dark Honey Fungus

Dark Honey Fungus

Dark Honey Fungus

Dark Honey Fungus

Dark Honey Fungus

Dark Honey FungusIt’s a tree. Somebody tell him it’s a tree, we’ve got things to play.

Dark  Honey FungusSensing that my companion was  somewhat less enthusiastic about mushrooms than I was, I dragged her off to a field for some playtime.

We are at the top of he hills now and the fields are dry, close cropped and full of sunshine.


Happiness is round and yellow.