Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Drumboe fungi

A trip to Drumboe Wood is always guaranteed to turn up something good, and today was no exception. I intended to check out any hoverflies and tachinids that I saw, but the rain put paid to that idea.

I did find a few interesting plants in flower, including the wonderfully-named Enchanter's Nightshade:

But the fungi I found in a drizzly 15-20 minutes are the stars of the show. This is The Blusher - Amanita rubescens:
Amanitas should generally be regarded as poisonous, or at least toxic, and some are deadly.

Sulphur Tufts grow on dead wood, and are always found in clusters:

The visible parts of fungi are the fruit-bodies, which produce the reproductive spores. The actual fungus is either under the ground or in the substrate, which might be buried dead wood, or the live roots of trees. Some fungi even use buried moth pupae as a substrate. Because the substrate is usually long-lasting, the fruit-bodies are often found in the same location from year to year. These Collybia dryophila have been in exactly the same spot for perhaps 5 years:

Many fungi form a mycorrhyzal association exclusively with one species of tree. This Birch Bolete is never found far from a Birch tree:

The Beechwood Sickener is another mycorrhizal fungus, this time on Beech. These fruit-bodies show the usual attentions of slugs and small rodents, indicating that they don't suffer the same after-effects of eating them that humans do. Even a sniff of these can have a strongly gagging effect.
But if you're early enough, then you just might find a rare pristine specimen:
The closely-related Charcoal Burner has a looser association with broad-leaf trees:
My first little Mycena of the year, growing through Rhytidiadelphus moss:

This is The Stump: a very old Beech stump that I have been following over the years. It is home to an ever-increasing number of lichens, mosses, ferns and fungi, and now has two small Birch trees growing on it. This is another fine example of how the succession of lichens, fungi and mosses can turn dead wood into soil which is able to sustain higher plants:
And just as I was reaching the car park, I saw a back-lit specimen of the Speckled Wood butterfly:


Gill said...

Isn't that Stump fantastic? A whole miniature world in one tree stump. Wonderful.

Stuart said...

Gill: yes, I love that stump. It's just under a metre across and has at least 3 species of Cladonia, 2 Polytrichum mosses, a series of different fungi (some of which will have done their pioneering job and moved on), a small Dryopteris fern and the 2 Birches. Now that the trees have arrived, they will take over (or one of them will....too close for both to survive). Job done by lichens and mosses.

I also monitor a few fence posts about 60 years old which are the same but in miniature. Their higher-order plants are Bilberry.