Fungi Friday 8th May 2020
Happy Bank Holiday Friday! I hope you’re having and are permitted a nice extended weekend off.
I am working on a fungi photography project just now through my daily exercise walk but it’s too early to share just now. So it’s another ramble down mushroom memory lane. In the week that the UK became the country worst hit in Europe by the Covid-19 pandemic, I bring you one of the countries that has dealt with the situation far better: Czechia.
In September 2017 my friend and I visited the White Carpathians, an area of mountains that stretch across the border with neighbouring Slovakia. I wrote this post about the landscape of the White Carpathians. Here I am sharing never-before-seen photos of some of the fungi we encountered on one hike in the White Carpathians.
The Carpathians are a mountain range that stretch across central and eastern Europe crossing Austria, Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and the Ukraine. The White Carpathians are so called because of their white limestone (which I think is chalk!). In Czech they are called Bílé Karpaty. I am indebted to my friend Zuzka Veverkova for introducing me to this landscape.
Eddie and I were hiking to the Czech-Slovak border from a hostel we were staying in a tiny village called Vápenky. We hiked up through beech woodlands which were actively managed as plantations to reach some ancient woodland close to the accessible peak of Velka Javorina. The walk began well with this absolutely massive dryad’s saddle. It was so big it had become like a giant petunia and held rainwater in its cap!
Here is Eddie, who is over 6ft, giving a sense of scale. This is a species which is fruiting now in May. It’s the biggest seasonal fruiting body of a fungus I’ve ever seen. Ones that are present all year round as brackets don’t quite count!
In the beech plantations (beech is remnant of the climax vegetation in the Carpathians – basically the naturally occurring dominant tree species) parasol mushrooms were pushing up from the leaf litter. We also encountered a woman returning from the mountain with a small number of these mushrooms collected for cooking. She had picked them when they were young and just appearing from the soil. It was evidence of local knowledge that is diminishing in many parts of the world as urbanisation increases.
The forestry practices in the area bordered on the surreal.
We saw much larger parasols on the steeply wooded slopes.
At the sides of the forestry roads they were also common.
I find this family of mushrooms quite confusing and need to spend some time getting to know them better. The Lepiota/Macrolepiota group can appear very similar and I am not quite dedicated enough to find out what each one is.
I will lie down for a photo though, to take one that is (thanks Ed). You may not realise but these are some of the richest grasslands in the world. September is not a good time to see them however, April-July is best.
For reference, above is a collection of images of the plants found in these grasslands in May 2014 when I first visited. The Steppe grasslands of the White Carpathians are the richest in the world, according to the Landscape Protection Agency. The orchids seen here are elder-flowered orchid. The woods were frothing with wild garlic.
On trees and stumps, a fungus that was common was red-belted bracket. This was nice to see as it is not so common in the UK, if present at all.
This very colourful bracket was growing on the stump of a felled tree close to the top of the mountain.
For most of my hiking comrades this is the feeling of, ‘oh for God’s sake not another mushroom photo’. Soz Ed.
On the way back down from the summit we found this shroom which I think is rooting shank. It’s a dream vantage point for a photo, especially with some blissful bokeh blur in the background.
This is a species I associate with late summer or early autumn when the wetter weather hasn’t quite arrived and the soil is still a bit dry. They’re often close to the trunks of trees.
This has the look of a shield of some kind, but I didn’t spend much time looking at it. This was in one of the protected areas of woodland where forestry was not permitted. It happened also to be the place where biting flies where most interested in us so we didn’t stand still for long.
The White Carpathians are a fantastic place for nature and I would love to visit in the prime mushroom season to see what shows up.
Thanks for reading.