Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Ancient Deciduous Woodland - Fungi

Many fungi are dependent on the trees that grow in deciduous woodland, and some species need that woodland to be hundreds of years old. This is due to the fact that some fungi are successional, only appearing when another fungus has already been present for some period of time and has created a suitable environment for the dependent fungus. As a result, it is a general rule that the older the woodland, the more species of fungi will be encountered, with some of the rarest species only being found in truly ancient woodland.

No great rarities on show today, but I found a rather nice example of the Tawny Grisette - Amanita fulva:

Note the volval sac at the base of the fungus, looking rather like an egg shell. This is a good indication that you're looking at an Amanita. It's pretty important to identify this family, because many are toxic and some are deadly poisonous. Amanita fulva is said to be edible, but best avoided due to possible confusion with other, more dangerous, species. I won't be trying it.

Russulas are readily identified due to their brightly coloured cap and the pure white, chalky stipe (stem). This single specimen of Russula lutea was growing under Beech. Mycologists are usually reluctant to name Russulas to species, but this one is unusual in that it has orange gills, rather than the white or cream that we usually find on this family.

Russula maire
i - the Beechwood Sickener - is very common, and is always found under Beech. I find this one to be a bit of an anomaly: it is (violently) emetic for humans, but it is rare to find a specimen that has not been nibbled by mice or eaten by slugs or snails.

Oudemansiella mucida
- the Porcelain Fungus - is incredibly beautiful: photographs cannot possibly do it justice. This is also associated with Beech, but on the higher parts of dead branches.

The cap is extremely thin and translucent with a pearlescent gloss to its shiny cap. A few years ago, I found that the best way to illustrate part of its beauty is to take a shot from underneath:

Finally for today, the bracket fungus Ganoderma australis. Whilst it may not be primarily guilty of causing the death of a tree, it certainly means the end is close. A huge Beech near this one had several specimens growing on it, and last year it split down the middle, leaving one half standing and the other half lying horizontally.

This has the makings of a good year for fungi.

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