News from Dave Haldane
November was a wonderful month, not only for the splendid weather but also for the abundance of fungi to be seen around the local area. Very noticeable were the Mycena and Marasmius species found in large numbers along the grass verges in the residential sector. Eye catching in their abundance, these small fungi are however difficult to identify and usually require a sample being taken for closer inspection. Also found here, although in smaller numbers, were clusters of Coprinus atramentarius with their gills rapidly liquefying as an aid to spore dispersal, hence the name ink cap and the smaller Fairies bonnets Coprinellus disseminatus which is very fragile and crumbles rather than deliquescing.
A Yellow-stainer mushroom
Another species often found growing on grass verges, is the edible mushroom look-a-like Agaricus xanthoderma . It is not dissimilar to the edible variety but caution is required if a gastric upset is to be avoided. This species is flatter on top and a simple identification test is to bruise the cap and lower stem with your finger. Should the pressure produce a strong crome-yellow discolouration which persists, then it is very likely you have a Yellow-stainer mushroom which should be discarded.
Along the hedgerow skirting the Kingsway I found several Blewits Lepista nuda growing in small groups. The cap, which is buff to violet in colour with the gills veering towards lilac is fairly distinctive and the pleasant smell is a give-away to the more knowledgeable fungi forager.
Also close to the Kingsway I found a species usually found in a woodland setting. Sulphurtuft Hypholoma fascicularis seen here growing out of the gravel. This is a saprophytic fungus which feeds from decaying wood such as old tree stumps. The example shown is most likely to have emerged from mycelium growing from a buried wooden perimeter post.
Fairy rings are produced by several species of fungi but one of the commonly associated species is the mushroom Marasimius oreades. This is a small mushroom with a cap which rarely exceeds 5 cm across and ranges in colour from tawny to pale brown. The photograph shows one of several distinctive fairy rings found on the grass verge at East Beach Pond. A much larger mushroom, again growing in a ring or horseshoe shape, is the Clouded agaric Clitocybe nebularis. This spectacular species is normally found under heavy scrub and has a pale grey colour cap and can reach 15 cm across.
The Earth Star
The earth star is one of the oddities sometimes encountered when rummaging among the hedgerow leaf litter. I have seen only two species Geastrum pectinatum growing under privet on Selsey Common and a recent find, believed to be a Collared earthstar G. triplex growing under heavy scrub over chalk in the Brandy Hole woods. The cylinder shaped fruiting body acts in the same way as a puff ball by discharging its spores from a small central opening when pressure is applied.
To find attractive little Puff balls you need go no further than Manor Green where Bovista plumbea and Lycoperdon perlatum were frequently observed during October and November.
To sum up: You need not be an expert to try your hand at identifying and recording fungi but you do need to be very knowledgeable if you intend to eat what you find.