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Monthly Mushroom: Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus)

Monthly Mushroom: Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus)

by Jasper ~ 17 September, 2018 ~ one comment

One can understand why amateur mycology might seem like an unrewarding and slightly odd pastime to the outside observer. There are many who might consider squatting amongst the leaf litter with guidebook in hand, trying to pinpoint whether the flush of slimy brown-yellow toadstools sprouting from a rotting log or tree stump could be Hypholoma fasciculare, Hypholoma capnoides or maybe even Kuehneromyces mutabilis, an ultimately pointless endeavour. Few would deem being able to distinguish Dead Moll’s Fingers from Dead Man’s Fingers or a Leopard Earthball from a Common Earthball  among the most vital of life skills.  Read more...

Monthly Mushroom: The Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)

Monthly Mushroom: The Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)

by Jasper ~ 17 August, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Parasols should be popping up all across the UK at the moment. Paul Stamets in Mycelium Running calls them “one of the most majestic of all edible mushrooms.” The second part of the Latin name Macrolepiota procera literally means lofty, upraised or extended to a great height, and they are certainly hard to miss on late-Summer and Autumn forays. 

The Parasol mushroom starts out looking something like a drumstick, before the initially egg-shaped cap opens up to a maximum size of around a foot across (typically between 10-30cm) when fully grown. Read more...

Common Earthball_Scleroderma citrinum_2

The Monthly Mushroom: Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum)

by Jasper ~ 31 July, 2018 ~ comments welcome

We’ve had an exceptional Summer of scorched soils, withered leaves and parched lawns so far this year, so July’s Monthly Mushroom almost slipped by the wayside while I awaited a shift to atmospheric conditions slightly more conducive to a fresh seasonal flush. However, this choice specimen should be emerging just around now and should be with us until the end of the year.

They are the same shape and size of many of the puffball examples listed in the last Monthly Mushroom post, but few amongst even the most passionate woodland wanderers tend to get too fired up by the sight of an Earthball. Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom: Stump Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme)

The Monthly Mushroom: Stump Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme)

by Jasper ~ 15 June, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Rather than applying to a single taxonomic group, the word puffball covers a broad range of distinct species of ball-shaped fungi that are typically commonly spotted around the fields and forests of the United Kingdom from Summer through to late Autumn. If you look at the first part of the Latin name describing the genus of the various different types lumped together under the puffball handle, it becomes clear they are less closely related genetically than their similar appearances suggest.

For example, there are the Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum),Meadow Puffball (Vascellum pratense), the Brown Puffball (Bovista nigrescena), the Mosaic Puffball (Handkea utriformis) and the Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea). The most obvious distinguishing features between them are their sizes. Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom: Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus)

The Monthly Mushroom: Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus)

by Jasper ~ 4 May, 2018 ~ one comment

Bracket fungi encompass a host of species that typically grow in tough semicircular shelves on tree trunks, logs and branches, their mycelium consuming both the living and the dead wood within (although there are some soil-dwelling types that form mycorrhizal relationships with their hosts). For more on mycorrhizal fungi, see this previous posting on Fly Agarics.  The term has been applied in a general fashion to various examples on the basis of the physical form of the fruiting bodies rather than any genetic kinship. As such it includes such notable edibles as the Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) also known as the Sulphur Shelf, and the grisly looking Beefsteak fungus (Fistulina hepatica), which oozes a blood-red liquid when cut (featured image)

Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom: Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

The Monthly Mushroom: Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

by Jasper ~ 11 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Looking for fungi in the wild is one thing, but if you really want to get to know your mushrooms, what better way than to grow your own? With growing kits for a good number of different varieties available from various shops or online sources, it is not quite the dauntingly complex process you might think (see final image below).

By far the easiest to cultivate at home are Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus sp.), which thrive on a variety of substrates. Paul Stamets’ seminal Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World (2005) contains photos of them thriving on straw, corncobs, human hair, wood chips, old clothing and even a straw-stuffed armchair.  The most common of the “exotic” types to start making their way into our supermarkets over the past couple of decades, the Oyster mushroom owes its name more to its shape than its delicate taste and texture. Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom: The Egghead Mottlegill (Panaeolus semiovatus)

The Monthly Mushroom: The Egghead Mottlegill (Panaeolus semiovatus)

by Jasper ~ 25 March, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Paul Stamets in his mycological bible Mycelium Running writes that “Mushrooms can be placed in 4 basic categories: saprophytic, parasitic, mycorrhizal, and endophytic, depending upon how they nourish themselves,” pointing out that many deploy a mixture of all these strategies.

The woodlands blog has featured the mycorrhizal types such as the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) that derive their energy by forming mutually-beneficial relationships through extending the root systems of trees and other plants. Both parasitic and endophytic types sustain themselves by living on or within other organisms, be they plant, animal or whatever, the former to the detriment of its host, the latter harmless and sometimes even beneficial. The pathogenic Honey Fungus (Armillariam sp.) is a good example of a parasitic type, while the relationship between Tar Spots and the leaves of the sycamores and acers that they appear on is best described as endophytic. Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom: Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

The Monthly Mushroom: Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

by Jasper ~ 20 February, 2018 ~ one comment

February isn’t, generally speaking, the most conducive time of year to go roaming the woods or immerse yourself in the great outdoors. With its cold rains, claggy mud, bare trees, muted colours and short daylight hours, it is a month marked by dormancy for many, although still one in which the early green shoots and nascent buds are at least appearing to signal some sort of an end to another grey and dreary English winter.

With the fleshier varieties of fungi, much of the dramatic flushes of just a few months ago have long died and rotted back into their substrates. However, there are a few more durable species that persist around the year, although generally ones that tend to be overlooked because they are so ubiquitous, inedible, and, at first glance at least, not particularly interesting. Read more...

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