Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Ards revisited

My previous trip to Ards a couple of weeks ago was slightly disappointing, so I went back again on Sunday. This was a much better trip, with lots of interesting specimens, and it has taken me the better part of two days to get all the identifications as close as I can, since quite a few of the species are new to me.

In no particular order:

Gymnopilus penetrans is a decomposer of coniferous wood: the central specimen is shown still attached to its substrate:

Gymnoplius penetrans on coniferous debris
New to my species list.


Waxcaps are very colourful fungi that are mostly found in grassland, although one or two favour the edges of paths or verges. This is Hygrocybe conica - the Blackening Waxcap. It starts off bright red, fades to yellow and then turns black as it matures:

Blackening Waxcap in the early stages
Late edit: 'Gibster' has just pointed out that the black dots on the Laurel leaves at the bottom of the picture are Trochila laurocerasi. So that's another addition to my species list.


Hygrocybe pratensis is one of the larger Waxcaps. I like the fine detail on its gills:


Gills of Hygrocybe pratensis

Another new species of Waxcap for me: Hygrocybe reidii - the Honey Waxcap - smells strongly of honey, especially at the base of the stipe (stem).


Hygrocybe reidii - Honey Waxcap
New to my species list.


This small but distinctive species glories in the longest name of any in my species list - Inocybe geophylla var. lilacina
Inocybe geophylla var. lilacina

Russulas are another colourful family. They are characterised by bright caps, white chalky stipe and very brittle gills and flesh. Russula ochroleuca is one of the most common species, found under broadleaf trees and conifers:

Russula ochroleuca

This one took a little more time to identify, but I just got my copy of Geoffrey Kibby's excellent new monograph on Russulas and it keys out to Russula sardonia:


Russula sardonia
There are many features used to identify fungi. In addition to appearance and smell, we also sometimes use taste, especially when it comes to Lactarius species, where we often taste the milk (more of this later). I wanted to confirm the identification of the above Russula sardonia and broke of a couple of pieces of the gills and tasted them. The description says that they taste hot and acrid...."sometimes alarmingly so". I can confirm that the gills are the hottest taste I have ever encountered: my tongue is still tingling 24 hours later. Taste with caution.

I hasten to point out that the tasting of fungi has to be done with some guidance: tasting the gills of e.g. Death Cap could have fatal consequences.

New to my species list.

Sulphur Tuft must be one of the most common species: I find clusters of it on every trip I make at this time of year:

Sulphur Tuft

The archetypal mushroom as depicted in countless fairy tales is Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric:

Fly Agaric
Fly Agaric gets its name from the old practice of putting some in a saucer of milk to attract and kill flies. It has a serious narcotic effect.

The Cantharellus family has some of the most delicious mushrooms, including the Chanterelle - one of my favourites. This is the closely-related Cantharellus infundibuliformis:

Cantharellus infundibuliformis - Girolle

And the Horn of Plenty is another delicious member of the same family:

Horn of Plenty
I usually smell those before I see them.

Earlier on, I mentioned tasting the milk of Lactarius species. they get their name from the 'milk' which exudes from the gills when the flesh is cut. The colour and taste of the milk is an important factor in making an identification. The appearance of this one, allied with the milk, which slowly develops a bitter and slightly hot taste leads me to Lactarius chrysorrheus, which is an Oak associate:

Lactarius chrysorrheus
New to my species list.

I rarely give specific names to Mycenas: I'm still waiting for a monograph to be published. but I'm happy that this one is Mycena galericulata. It grows on dead wood and stumps, and has a very springy stipe which is difficult to break:

Mycena galericulata with flash
This second shot is in natural light:

Mycena galericulata in natural light

Turkey Tails are another decomposer of dead wood. They can be seen in tiers along dead branches and stumps. Colour can be very variable:

Turkey Tails on dead branch

Finally for today, a shot of Candle Snuff fungus - Xylaria hypoxylon:

Candle Snuff fungus

Not a bad page, I think.

4 comments:

Gill said...

It's a great page - like you I love that shot of the gills on H. pratensis.

We've a sudden blooming of Lactarius blennius here after weeks with almost no fungi at all.

Toffeeapple said...

I have to agree with Gill's first comment in particular but all the images are super. Such a lot of firsts for you!

Gibster said...

I may very well be mistaken, but if those are dead Cherry Laurel leaves in one of the upper pics, you also have Trochila laurocerasus on show. Quite widespread in my area, Surrey. Other host specific Trochila's are ilicina on Holly and craterium on Ivy. All commom here, no idea about where you are though! Great blog, btw! Cheers.

stuart dunlop said...

Gibster, those are indeed Cherry Laurel, so thanks for that id. T. ilicina I have certainly seen (and probably photographed). T. craterium I'm not so sure (but I can check tomorrow). Thanks very much for the id, and please keep looking in. (btw, I'm in Co. Donegal, Ireland. The location of the forest is NW Ireland, on the Atlantic coast.)