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January’s Fungi Focus: Crimped Gills

January’s Fungi Focus: Crimped Gills

by Jasper Sharp ~ 20 January, 2021 ~ comments welcome

They grow in dense overlapping tiers on dead stumps and branches, the felty topside of these semi-circular shelves primarily an orange to tawny brown colour demarcated to form zones of different colours, including a rather striking blue in places, and tending towards white at the edges. The Crimped Gill, or Plicatura crispa (also Plicaturopsis crispa), does indeed from such descriptions, sound remarkably similar to the Turkey Tails described in last month’s post.

In these winter months when bracket fungi are plentiful in our woodlands, there are a good number of fungi that might be confused with Turkey Tails, in fact, from the False Turkey Tails and Hairy Curtain Crusts described last month, through the Tripe Fungus covered in a Fungi Focus from last February and other lookalike species such as the Smokey Bracket (Bjerkandera adusta).  Read more...

December’s Fungi Focus: Turkey Tails and False Turkey Tails

December’s Fungi Focus: Turkey Tails and False Turkey Tails

by Jasper Sharp ~ 10 December, 2020 ~ 2 comments

While the winter woodlands are now largely bereft of the colourful cornucopia of mushrooms we’ve been seeing over the past few months, bracket fungi abound. It only seems fitting, then, to add a seasonal twist to this month’s fungi focus and take a look at one of our most commonplace and picturesque examples, the Turkey Tail (or Turkeytail), as well as one of its closest lookalikes.   Turkey Tails are very much a fixture of woodlands across Britain, and indeed are widespread throughout much of the world. This catchy common name, which succinctly describes the colours and forms of its variegated fan-shaped shelves, seems to have crept over from America fairly recently. Previously it was known over here by the rather more prosaic yet equally descriptive name of the Many-Zoned Polypore, a fair rendition of its Latin binomial Trametes versicolor.  Read more...

Amethyst1

November Fungi Focus: Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystina) and the documentary Fantastic Fungi

by Jasper Sharp ~ 12 November, 2020 ~ comments welcome

There has been such a diversity of interesting things popping up in the woods recently then fading right back almost as soon as they appear that it is almost overwhelmingly difficult to know where to lay ones focus for November’s post. In just a few weeks or so the peak mushroom season will be over, and then these monthly articles will be move away from our more typical looking types to the whatever crusts, rusts, slimes or jellies are out at any given time. At the moment, however, it seems like a Sisyphean task just trying to keep up with monitoring and capturing on camera the rich and colourful array of species appearing in brief successive waves in my local woods after spending so much of the year lying dormant – a task tinged with the sadness of knowing it will all be easing off again shortly. Read more...

October Fungi Focus: The Sulphur Knight (Tricholoma sulphureum)

October Fungi Focus: The Sulphur Knight (Tricholoma sulphureum)

by Jasper Sharp ~ 15 October, 2020 ~ 4 comments

There is something quite exhilarating about the smell of autumn, and I immediately picked up on it on my first evening woodland walk after the Autumn equinox a few weeks back. The earthy richness that hits the nostrils as your feet scuffle through the newly fallen leaves, and the overwhelmingly sharp freshness of the damp air tinged with the lingering perfume of ivy seems to reawaken the senses after the torpor of Summer. Camus put it nicely when he wrote, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” 

Smell is a sense that is often overlooked when it comes to identifying fungi, although any encounter with a stinkhorn, its viscid dark green tip (or gleba) swarming with flies attracted by its ripe miasma, is proof enough of the importance of these chemical signals in the spore dispersal process. Read more...

September’s Fungi Focus: Green and Turquoise Elfcups

September’s Fungi Focus: Green and Turquoise Elfcups

by Jasper Sharp ~ 11 September, 2020 ~ one comment

I love this time of year. At the height of summer, wooded environments can feel gloomy, humid, oppressive and swarming with mosquitoes and other biting stinging things. September marks the seasonal tipping point when these habitats take on a new lease of life, as the things begin to cool down a bit and the more colourful and easily recognisable mushrooms, toadstools and other fungal forms start popping up in earnest. Of course, the fungi themselves have been there throughout the year. These fruiting bodies are only their temporary manifestations, like ghosts - transient hints as to the complex invisible processes and interactions constantly at work beneath the surface of the forest floor or whatever woody substrates that play host to the larger organisms. It is only in the coming months that we might truly appreciate the huge diversity of the plethora of species harboured within the fallen log that we might habitually take rest on, or the rotting fence post or tree stumps or whatever else that we use to orient ourselves around our favourite woodland haunts. Read more...

collared paracute

August’s Fungi Focus: The Collared Parachute (Marasmius rotula)

by Jasper Sharp ~ 11 August, 2020 ~ one comment

There are quite a few conspicuous Summer fungi that you might have seen popping up recently. One of the most commonly found and easy to identify is the subject of this month’s focus, the Collared Parachute (Marasmius rotula) referred to alternatively by the names of the Pinwheel Mushroom or the Horse Hair fungus.   These alternate names present fairly accurate descriptions of the characteristic appearance of this dainty looking but tough mushroom, which you’ll find growing in groups in the leaf litter from the first June rains through to November. The thin and fibrous stem that is the same ivory white colour at the top as the tough, dry pleated cap that it supports but darkens from russet brown to near black towards its base is one feature that it shares with a number of other species in the Marasmius genus. More distinctive is the collar, or collarium to give it its technical name, that separates the gills from the stem, with the gills themselves fairly widely spaced and running outwards to the cap edges. Read more...

July’s Fungi Focus: Death Caps, False Death Caps and other amanitas

July’s Fungi Focus: Death Caps, False Death Caps and other amanitas

by Jasper Sharp ~ 1 July, 2020 ~ comments welcome

We are just easing into that time of year when the mushroom hunting season looks about set to kick off in earnest. No longer is the more fervent fungi fanatic forced into gazing obsessively into the undergrowth in search of tiny black dots on dried stalks and twigs and left to wonder which of literally thousands of potential candidates they might have found - you’ll have to wait until next year for that post, I’m afraid. No, now is the time when we can prepare to lay aside the camera’s macro lens and focus on the more readily identifiable and photogenic cap-and-stem-and-gills varieties we know as agarics. Read more...

Common Tarcrust (Diatrype stigma)

June’s Fungi Focus: Woodwarts, Blackheads and Tarcrusts. Part 2

by Jasper Sharp ~ 4 June, 2020 ~ one comment

It is worth mentioning that while the majority of the hard pyrenomycetous fungi that are the subject of this two-part post are decomposers of dead wood, and therefore invaluable to any woodland ecosystem, there are types that are less benign. For example, one might question why anyone would need to be able to identify the 90 species of Rosellinia, none of which have a common English name and are nearly identical in all aspects aside from their dimensions, until one realises that a number are serious pathogens. Rosellinia desmazieri, for example, can attack living willow trees. There’s a tropical species called Rosellinia bunodes that causes black root rot on a wide range of cash crops like coffee and bananas, while closer to home we have Rosellinia necatrix, another root rotter. Read more...

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