Daniel Greenwood

The language of leaves

Posts tagged ‘Mushrooms’

Warnham - 20-10-2019 lo-res-30

Fungi Friday 27th March 2020

It’s estimated that 25% of people on Earth are now under some social restriction due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the non-human organisms are probably enjoying this hiatus, it’s certainly harder to continually produce these finger-on-the-pulse-docu-drama Fungi Friday posts. This week I confess I have no fungi photos worth sharing. I even sat in the garden just now for half an hour trying to get extreme macro images of a mouldy orange. No word of a lie. Look:

Orange_mould_27-3-2020_lo-res-5

So the only sensible thing to do is admit defeat – I have no mushroom images to show you from this incredibly sunny and dry week in Sussex. But this blog has only been running since Christmas and so this is a chance for me to spend some of those Fungi Fridays I’d been storing in the mushroom bank.

Warnham - 20-10-2019 lo-res-31

In early November I took a walk one Sunday around a nature reserve close to where I live. It’s a mixture of wetland, wet woodland and plantation. I featured some pics from it last week before the powers that be sent us packing. I found a very unusual looking mushroom growing along the path edges in patches of woodchip. This was a new species for me and apparently too for our great nation.

I struggled with some serious mushroom envy at times last year due to lots of images of a blue mushroom that every mycologist and her dog had found. I felt a bit better about it after meeting its cousin, the redlead roundhead, for the first time. This beautiful red shroom is a naturalised species which originates in New Zealand. As the Covid-19 pandemic shows us, things can spread easily around the world if their manner of reproduction is microscopic, airborne and supported by intercontinental human travel. Tree diseases, I’m talkin’ to you!

Warnham - 20-10-2019 lo-res-36

I was trying out a new zoom lens on my little mirrorless camera and these funeral bell mushrooms enjoyed their opportunity to show off their poisonousness. Their name should tell you what eating them does. They are very similar to sheathed woodtuft and anyone looking to eat fungi should be very careful when trying to decipher between these two species. I’m just going to flat out discourage that!

Warnham - 20-10-2019 lo-res-28

The path edge was also rich in puffballs. The birch log at the side of the photo is path edging, what is sometimes known as a fungi super-highway. These puffballs are quite weird looking but they’re in their prime. I think they probably common puffballs but they could also be pestle puffball, which I believe is a bit larger than this really. 10 points if you can identify which small mammal has nibbled into the hazelnut in the bottom right.

Warnham - 20-10-2019 lo-res-23

In another coniferous patch I found this expanse of common funnel mushrooms. I spent several years working in a woodland that housed trooping and clouded funnels in the same areas pretty much every year. But the above was a species I’d only seen once before. Also using a zoom lens made it a lot easier to express the scale of their spread, compared with the narrow depth of field a macro lens provides.

Warnham - 20-10-2019 lo-res-22

Next week I’m planning to recap my peak autumn 2019 mushroom experience which I never got round to posting last year. I promise no more mouldy fruit unless it’s aesthetically worth it.

Wishing you well, thanks for reading.

More mushrooms

 

Leave a comment

Warnham_19-3-2020_lo-res-04

Fungi Friday 20th March 2020

Happy Spring Equinox! Yesterday was a special day, the first proper mushrooms of 2020 made an appearance in Sussex, to me at least. Problem was I completely missed this mushroom, blewit! Wood blewit, that is (sorry). Thankfully it was pointed out to me and I had a glove model on hand (lol) to show it off.

Warnham_19-3-2020_lo-res-08

This has been an incredibly difficult week for people and it’s hard not to talk about it here. Heading out to see which birds are now singing or which mushrooms might be fruiting is a massive tonic to the social frenzy which is hitting pretty much everywhere at the moment. This week I heard my first singing chiffchaff of the year, a rubberstamp of ecological spring. This female great tit may soon become a mum.

Chesworth_17-3-2020_lo-res-6

We have to look to nature now as spring arrives. It puts you back in your place and gives a picture of the longer term. The wild life will go on. But we should also consider that the problems we are now facing are linked to our awful devastation of the natural world, the abuse of its wildlife and ecosystems. Seriously people, we have to consider what we are doing to wildlife and their habitats first hand and also by our consumption of unsustainable products like beef from Brazil or chocolate from companies with poor ethical standards. I really hope that people can find a love of nature now that makes us slow down, consume less and see that our impact has to change forever before nature changes us more abruptly. After this, there can be no going back.

Warnham_19-3-2020_lo-res-03

As I say quite often on this website, I’m not a forager of edible plants and mushrooms, though I know a fair number that I could eat. By that I mean plants and mushrooms, not actual foragers. I have never lived in a place where the foraging of anything beyond blackberries is sustainable. Some foragers must have been banking on this moment of temporarily empty supermarket shelves. Though our numbers are too great and nature’s larder probably too diminished to sustain our diets now. Shame that the toilet roll you find in the woods ain’t ripe yet.

Warnham_19-3-2020_lo-res-01

Most of the fungi I saw yesterday was not edible, either because of its species or just generally because something else had already eaten it. The Coronavirus situation should remind us that there are millions of other species with lifestyles that are far more sustainable than ours, and we are vulnerable to pandemics, especially as we force our way ever deeper into untouched ecosystems that have been intact for millions of years or disturb people who have lived in harmony with those landscapes for a long time. The fungus above is probably shaggy bracket or Inonotus hispidus, one you usually find in bits on the floor having dropped off from higher up. I learned this species conducting tree health surveys with tree inspectors.

Warnham_19-3-2020_lo-res-09

A common mushroom popping up now is glistening inkcap. The ‘record shot’ above is enough to show you how few mushrooms I’ve seen recently. The standards should get better as winter diminishes in the rearview mirror.

Warnham_19-3-2020_lo-res-10

Some fungi need a bit more before they’re ready to go on stage. Here we have a splitgill fungus, which I covered a few weeks ago. Still this snowy white shroomster was a pleasant sight against the blackened rings of this log.

Garden_18-3-2020_lo-res-4

I am getting mentally ready to spend a lot of time in my garden this spring. I am very privileged to have a garden and, having eventually got to this point, I will never take it for granted. During one of this week’s WFH lunch breaks, I found this miniscule fungus frowing on the remains of a magnolia leaf. I wasn’t even looking for it, I saw it later when editing the RAW file on the computer.

Garden_18-3-2020_lo-res-1

This very tiny fly was resting on a patch of fungus in the pigment of this leaf. I’d like to learn more about these types of fungi but one of the more recognisable ones is that which grows on bilberry (blaeberry, blueberry) leaves.

Warnham_19-3-2020_lo-res-11

I owe lichens for getting this #FungiFriday blog close to completing its third month. Let’s hope that Fungi Friday can help us adapt to the life changes we are all experiencing just now. I plan to do a virtual Fungi Friday guided walk if we’re still allowed out, in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for that, but most of all stay tuned to the season rather than your news app on your smartphone. It will help you when you need it.

More mushrooms

3 Comments

Warnhqm_8-3-2020_LRCC-01

Fungi Friday 13th March 2020

No self-respecting person goes out looking for mushrooms in March. The mushrooms come to you. Or in this case (above), the bracket mushrooms will hover over your head and attempt to abduct you ala UFOs visiting nocturnal fields in the southern states of the USA. I’m unsure of what this bracket fungus is but it is probably the funniest. I actually ‘laughed out loud’. It’s growing from a poplar in a wetland reserve in the Sussex Weald. If you look closely enough it also looks like a grumpy frog.

Warnhqm_8-3-2020_LRCC-16

This great spotted woodpecker was looking for his lunch nearby. Thankfully his attempt to fool me into thinking he was a bracket fungus didn’t work. It got more weird:

Fungi_Friday_13-3-2020_lo-res-1

Alongside what is known in Sussex as a ‘gill’, a stream rushing through woodland, I found this horror. Now I’m unsure whether this is the jellied remains of an old bracket fungus or simply the remains of a jelly fungus. It could also be something far worse. I prodded it with a twig and it jiggled, so I would go with it being a jelly fungus. It was delicious. Kidding, it wasn’t. As in, I didn’t eat it.

Fungi_Friday_13-3-2020_lo-res-3

The only fungal wow moment of the past week has been this encounter with splitgill fungus growing from a pine tree. This was a plantation of thousands of pine trees with very little variety in structure, tree species or ground flora. Keep an eye out for my next Sussex Weald post on that. These mushrooms stood out like many sore thumbs.

Warnhqm_8-3-2020_LRCC-13

The lichenised fungi also provided a rather artistic sight. I think this is a species of poplar. It has crustose lichens growing around the trunk. In a tweet the British Lichen Society pointed out that this is evidence that trees grow outward rather than upward. Why is this? It’s because trees are constantly putting on new layers of wood internally, behind the bark. These layers of tissue form the static mass of the tree. It is in effect a kind of waste product but it gives the tree some structure.

Warnhqm_8-3-2020_LRCC-02

Take this stunning dead oak which was also seen on the same day as the lichens. The bark is falling away from the tree as it decays (thanks to fungi in part) and the layers of wood internally are exposed.

Warnhqm_8-3-2020_LRCC-12

All that, from the fact that lichens look a bit like bird poos delivered at high velocity from the leftfield.

Thanks for reading!

More fungi

Leave a comment
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The South Downs

Fungi Friday 28th February 2020

A fungal perspective on February would probably say that it was ok if you live on a fence post. The poor people who have had their lives ruined by flooding in Britain probably wish they too live on stilts. And so February saw itself out with yet more heavy rain and flooding. But it also carried the early signs of spring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The closest thing I got to a true fungus (whatevs that is) was this turkeytail fanning out from a fence post. It’s a reminder that to a fungus, a fence post is just a dead tree that we have put somewhere away from the woodland it was once growing in. There are also a smattering of crustose lichens in the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The best chance of finding something fungal to photograph was on some raised timber somewhere. I found this very marshmallow-like polypore bulging from a crevice in a fencing rail. You know times are hard when it comes to this. Behold the pores developing underneath as the specimen expands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can imagine, the 100%-fungi fungi ran out quickly. This lichen stood out to me a bit like the archetypal graffiti you see alongside railway lines. I went to a secondary school with a rich mix of graffiti artists (I know that this is not a universally held description) and this reminded me of that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a heavy crop so the photo isn’t winning any awards, but the lichen’s orange fruiting cups are really cool. I read this week that these cups are ascomycetes in fungal terms, better known as ‘cup fungi’. Their biological name as a structure on the lichen is ‘apothecia’. The ascomycetes are the largest group of fungi in the world and are also known as ‘spore-shooters’ (but don’t confuse them with puffballs like I once did). Normal mushrooms are basidiomycetes and produce their spores in the basidia which are usually present inside the gills we all know and eat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a pic from last week (is that allowed?) where you can see the apothecia of the lichen. The spores are released from these navy-blue discs and shot out into the air.

Bonnet spores - Octoberr-2018 djg-1

Just to illustrate, above you can see spores being released from a bonnet mushroom. This was taken with a high-resolution camera and lens, with some additional lighting. I didn’t know this had been captured until I looked at the photo later on my computer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back to this week and there are signs of winter coming to an end and the return of some mushrooms. This fly has what I guess might be goat willow pollen on it, meaning that they’re flowering and spring, it cometh.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The truest sign of winter going back to where it came from is these froggy peeps, about a week later than 2019. More from them in a bit, if I find the time. Rebbit. Soon enough they’ll be sheltering under toadstools in the woods, where they belong.

Thanks for reading.

More fungi

Leave a comment

IMG_20200202_153118125

Fungi Friday: 7th February 2020

Welcome to my weekly #FungiFriday post! Every Friday I aim to post my latest photos and learning from the Kingdom of Fungi (where I live). You can see my Fungi Friday archive here.

Last Sunday I was taking apart an old shed. Plenty of wildlife had made a home in the shed, including lots of large spiders, woodlice and springtails. Pulling the panels away, I was amazed to find this very small mushroom sitting there on a wooden panel.

shedshroom - 2-2-2020 blog-2

This is a species that I’ve posted about on a previous Fungi Friday but instead when it appears in the fissures of tree bark. This shroom shows the ability for fungi to get into any appropriate micro-habitat if the spores can reach them. This shed was very damp and moulds were already building in places. I was simply speeding up a process that fungi and other recyclers had started.

IMG_20200202_153123730

If you look at the image above you can see the scale of the mushroom. It’s miniscule! To photograph it I used a macro lens and a macro adaptor to get even closer.

Rother lichens - 5-2-2020 blog-2

Meanwhile at the river Rother in West Sussex, my poplar branch patch was drying out due to lack of rain and some unseasonably warm sun. It gave the cyanobacteria and algae the chance they need to turn some of that light into sugar and feed the fungus that puts a roof over (under?) their heads.

Rother lichens - 5-2-2020 blog-5

The common yellow lichenย Xanthoria parietinaย continued undimmed. Life goes on. There’s a storm coming…

More fungi

Extreme Macro Photos Unveil the Hidden World of Fungi in the Forest

The History of European Forest Exploitation

Leave a comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fungi Friday: 24th January 2020

A week of blissful winter sunshine and endless starry skies, cut short by low clouds. What is the point of January, many ask. If fungi asked themselves that question, they probably wouldn’t be here and therefore nor would we. Nature does not disappear completely in winter. The paucity of species can help introduce us to new ones we never knew existed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

January to me is a good time to find slime moulds. Yes, I suppose this is two straight weeks of cheating after last week’s lichen love-in. But if this is the only way to raise awareness about slime moulds, I don’t think fungi will mind. I had an hour to look through the wooded slopes of an old estate in East Sussex, to find this week’s quarry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There was very little fungi of the mushroom kind, in fact, none. But one of the bad funguys had been making itself felt in the wood. Ash trees had been felled after becoming infected with ash dieback. I used to monitor a woodland at the time of ash dieback’s arrival in the UK and have, since about 2014, watched it rocket across the country. In Sussex it is killing lots of ash trees that are under 50 years of age and the landscape of the South Downs is losing a lot of its higher woodland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here you can see the effect of the fungus, though of course many other fungal organisms will be benefitting from the decay caused by the disease. The rot has moved from the outside in through what are the softer layers of waste wood. Had the fungus weakened two thirds of the overall mass, the tree would probably have fallen down. Lots of people walk under these trees, so that’s why they have to be pushed before the wind shoves them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have been exchanging emails with a fellow macro photographer this week who has been spending hours looking for slime moulds. One day this week he looked for four hours and found nothing. I was lucky enough to walk straight outdoors for a few minutes and happened upon this epic spread on the tree above:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No, slime moulds aren’t fungi, they’re not even moulds, which are another kind of fungus. I still don’t have the slime mould ID book so any help is welcome.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The thing that amazed me about these slimeys was that you could barely see them, even when I knew they were there. They camouflaged so well with the glowering winter light. The photos here have been taken with a flash.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I could have spent all day with this spread but only had an hour and my small camera. Up close they look like little black kalamata olives. Nom, nom and nom. Though inedible.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The land managers had left lots of standing dead trees which is excellent. There is some epic misinformation going around about deadwood in woodlands and their contributions to forest fires. It’s guff aimed to misinform people, appeal to people’s fears (what a surprise) and promote the destruction of these habitats. In Britain our native woods of oak, beech and so on, are far too wet to ever burn like a heath.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The crevices seen above are the perfect places to find slime moulds in cold weather. This is because they provide microclimates and protection from the elements.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here I found some old stalkballs which are fungi (or maybe a species of slime mould, am not quite sure), plus the real life of the party:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DISCO. I’m not sure which species of disco the blue cup fungi are, but the orange fruiting body is definitely a slime mould. They were few and I couldn’t get a good angle on them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thankfully this blue disco brought the party on Fungi Friday.

Please do share your finds this week in the comments below. Also here are some fungi things of interest this week.

Thanks for reading.

First mushrooms appeared earlier than originally thought

More mushrooms

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment
Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-1

Flooding from the river Rother in West Sussex

Fungi Friday: 17th January 2020

Storm Brendon rocked up this week in Sussex and gave freedom of movement to the Arun and Rother. Temperatures have tickled 11 degrees but are set to crunch back down this weekend. Mushrooms must think, guys, WTAF?

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-18

I see images of nice looking shrooms on social media, things like velvet shank glowing orange like sweets on tree trunks. All I saw were the melted ice lollies of sulphur tuft (Hypholoma fasiculare) on an embankment. It gets worse:

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-14

Probably some bonnets, like a scene from the Netflix drama You. The rain has been too much for these Mycena. But have hope.

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-15

Where there are non-chemical treated fence posts, there is hope. That hope comes in the form of our symbiotic fungi-algae friends, the lichens. This is a great time of year for lichens due to the amount of rain and their resistance to winter weather. They are hard to shift.

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-13

The fruiting bodies here are known as apothecia. I love them. They are like cartoon eyes or mouths. Wonder what they’re trying to say. Obviously it’s a climate warning.

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-12

This one just takes the biscuit. My lichen guide is in Ireland where it belongs, with all the other lichens. So I’m sailing in the dark and just here to appreciate the beauty of these ancient, life-giving organisms.

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-5

These fencing rails are a reminder of how important dead wood is in the biosphere as a structural support for biodiversity. No doubt lots of other organisms will make a home for themselves in these lichens.

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-17

This is a finger post with the yellow being the paint of an arrow pointing in the direction of the public footpath. I love the little apothecia eye cups on the right hand side.

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-10

Living wood also provides a platform for lichens to grow. I can’t cope with the colour range in the species which dominates the image here. They were growing on the bark of a fairly young beech tree. A few people did glance over when they saw me effectively hiding behind the tree with a camera. In actual fact the camera was jammed up against the bark taking macro pics. Still, could have gone wrong.

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-11

Here you can see the brown streaks which are fissures in the maturing bark as it grows. Patches of foliose or leafy lichens are growing in among the crustose species.

Midhurst - 15-1-2019 blog-19

This was their view, an oak tree fanned out before the South Downs ridge. Not a bad place to be for a lichen.

The British Lichen Society are running the hashtag #LichenJanuary. Lichens are for everyone so it’s good to see such a niche group spreading their knowledge to the masses(?) for free.

Thanks for reading and please share any interesting lichen finds (or indeed identifications) in the comments. Some interesting mycological articles this week:

Mushrooms and orange peel: could biotech clean up the building industry?

Ikea to use packaging made from mushrooms that will decompose in a garden within weeks

More mushrooms

 

 

Leave a comment