Daniel Greenwood

The language of leaves

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-3

Ebernoe Common, Sussex Weald, October 2019

Last week I spent a drizzly and dark afternoon at Ebernoe Common, a National Nature Reserve managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust. It was raining not only water but mushrooms. The first signs of the good times came in the shape of a magpie inkcap. This is something I’ve only seen three times, twice at Ebernoe and once on the North Downs.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-1

The word magpie relates to the English phrased ‘pied’ which means black and white. This species goes into the delicious state of deliquesce (an inky kind of melting), just like its relative the shaggy inkcap. Unlike the shaggy inkcap, though, it’s toxic so don’t eat it. The thing I like about this image is the glow of green in the background gradually turning to yellow as autumn progresses. Beech usually provides this kind of backdrop.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-4

Porcelain fungus is a reliable species. It fruits in the same place, often en masse, each year. It is a beautiful species but the beauty, like so many things, lies underneath.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-7

The gloopy glimmer of the cap is photogenic but the gills of porcelain fungus are stunning.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-13

I use a small LED light to illuminate mushrooms in this way. I can’t tell you how much more character this can offer to photos. Actually I can: a lot more.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-21

Here you can see my roving light (yes, I meant this!) mixing it with some delicious bokeh in the background. Leaves and branches create lovely bokeh because of the break of light in the gaps.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-20

Here is one of ‘the finished images’. I like that the light circles can imitate the caps of mushrooms in photos and offer a deeper layer of resonance and reflection. Who knew.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-38

In photography, macro is where the fun happens. There are so many amazing things happening at our feet that our eyes are incapable of seeing without the help of magnification. If you want to have a go at macro, don’t hesitate. Just do it. I call this one ‘Climb every mountain’. The piece of deadwood does have the appearance of a peak in this light. The mushroom is like a protagonist, playing on a theme of mushrooms as individuals or sentient beings throughout human history:

16a9e28079e352a3d6d8ff664898b820-christmas-themes-christmas-cards

5d58176f8caa8c1e9faf25e0ab9f6bc8-picture-postcards-mushrooms

This seems to be particularly prevalent in German culture and Christmas or New Year celebrations. Christmas has evolved from Pagan traditions (Paganism was once considered any religion which was non-Christian) and the place nature has in the human imagination is pretty clear here.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-16

Back to life, back to reality. Honey fungus is enjoying its first boom phase and seems to be having a good year.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-18

There is a dead veteran beech tree at Ebernoe Common which is basically where all the mushrooms live. This wide angle image shows just how many larger species were making a home within the tree. Here you can see giant polypore (bottom left), honey fungus in the middle and Ganoderma brackets everywhere. This is a stunning tree and of the highest ecological importance because of all the species, not just fungi, it supports. All of these species are contributing to the tree’s decay and recycling into organic matter (soil).

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-9

Not far away was a patch of hen-of-the-woods, an aggressive root-rotter (harsh). It’s said to smell like mice (more harsh).

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-42

You can imagine how I thought someone was playing a trick when I passed this. A swing made from a beech log that was covered in porcelain fungus. It was embarrassingly hard to photograph well. Thankfully only the mushrooms were looking and they haven’t evolved to use Twitter yet.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-47

On my way out I spotted this slurp of fungus low on a log by the path.

Ebernoe - 11-10-2019 djg-50

Looking closely with the macro lens it has the appearance of something you might find in a coral reef. Then that’s the beauty of woodland, it has a depth to it that you have to dive in to experience for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

 

Read more:

The Sussex Weald

My Wood-Wide-Web

 

2 Responses to “The Sussex Weald: a mushroom cloud rests over West Sussex”

Leave a Reply to D. Greenwood Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: