Monday, October 15, 2018

September fungi, 2018

The fungus season has started with the usual crop of species that are often hard to identify.  One of the first, found on wood chip in our garden, is shown in the picture below.

Nick Aplin of the Sussex Fungus Group thinks it is probably a Psathyrella species.  This discussion group is very useful on the mycological front:  Trouble is things cannot always be identified from pictures or without detailed microscopic examination of the spores and other structures.

The next one I feel reasonably confident about: dead mens' fingers, Xylaria polymorpha.  These are growing through the moss on a fallen log in Killingan Wood where there are still very few ground fungi compared with former years.

Also in Killingan Wood (TQ7819) was a cluster of toadstools (below) at the base of a coppiced oak.  The Sussex Fungus Group people reckon it is the spindle toughshank, Gymnopus fusipes (= Collybia fusipes),  'Fusipes' means 'spindle-shaped' and the photo below shows a stem that is widest in the middle.  One author writes "The distinctive shape of the stem makes it almost impossible to confuse this species with any of the other common woodland mushrooms." Spindle toughshank is parasitic or saprobic mainly on oak and can cause the death of trees, though it usually favours already weakened or unhealthy specimens. It is a species that favours drier woodlands and is said to be increasing.

Back to the woodchip.  Theis one below is, I think, hare's-foot inkcap, Coprinosus lagopus, growing on woodchip, a habitat it prefers.  These toadstools are very ephemeral, dissolving into spore-filled liquid almost as soon as they have appeared.

In Churchland Wood there is a good showing, as in most years, of  yellow brittle cap, Russula ochroleuca, a common species found in both broadleaf and coniferous woodlands and which usually does well here.

I also found a number of interesting microfungi in September.  One that was new to me was a dematiaceous anamorphic fungus (sic) that forms these reticulated patches on elder leaves. I have identified it as Cercospora depazeoides. If you look very carefully, you will see little black dots in the 'islands' which are the spore-bearing bodies.

In Killingan Wood there is a young ash tree infected with a bacterial canker (not a fungus) that rejoices in the name of Pseudomonas syringae ssp. savastanoi pv. fraxini (pv is short for 'pathovar', a bacterial strain).  Although unsightly to all but a bacteriologist, these deformities seldom kill the tree unless they ring the trunk.  They do not seem to spread much either and I am only aware of two or three infected trees in our area.

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