Monday, 16 January 2017

Green and Yellow

Bisporella citrina, Lemon Disco.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
Bisporella citrina, Lemon Disco.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
This odd little fungus is Lemon Disco, Bisporella citrina.  The individual blobs are very small, but there can be a lot of them.  This orange display drew me to a log by the side of a path through High Elms Country Park.

Log with two fungus species.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
Log with two fungus species.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
I came for the lemon disco, but stayed for that blue-green stuff on the right .. that is Green Elfcup, a fungus which is quite common, but rarely seen in fruit.  We know it's common because the wood it grows in is stained dark green even when it's not fruiting, and that is found quite often.

Chlorociboria species, Green Elfcup.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
Chlorociboria species, Green Elfcup.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
Here are the oddly-coloured fruiting bodies.  It's one of two possible species that can't be told apart from a photograph.

That's a great display for a mycologist, though in my opinion, rather an ugly colour ... the wood turns out quite nicely, though.  At one time, it was dried and used to create Tunbridge ware, a form of decorative inlaid woodwork.

(The title of this post, "Green and Yellow" was the title of a folk song I knew as a teenager, a version of the song more commonly known as "Lord Randal."  It did not refer to these fungi, though it could easily have done.)

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Showy and Common

Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail.  High Elms Country Park, 8 January 2017.
Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail.  High Elms Country Park, 8 January 2017.
In this post are two rather similar fungi that produce showy displays when they are fresh.  This first one is Turkeytail, Trametes versicolor.  The individual brackets are a couple of inches across and, when young, they are quite hairy.

Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail.  High Elms Country Park, 8 January 2017.
Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail.  High Elms Country Park, 8 January 2017.
They can completely cover a dead log, like this.  The colour forms range from light brown to almost black, and the zoning effect you can see here makes it an easily recognisable species (except that there is another similar one - a common problem for identifiers! - which has larger brackets.)

The second fungus in this post also produces many small brackets, and can also cover dead wood.

Stereum hirsutum, Hairy Curtain Crust.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
Stereum hirsutum, Hairy Curtain Crust.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
It can even have a similar zoned appearance, as you can see here.

Stereum hirsutum, Hairy Curtain Crust.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
Stereum hirsutum, Hairy Curtain Crust.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
And, as you might expect from its name, it's hairy!

Stereum hirsutum, Hairy Curtain Crust.  Topside and underside.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
Stereum hirsutum, Hairy Curtain Crust.  Topside and underside.  High Elms Country Park, 2 January 2017.
But the hairs last longer.  Old Turkeytail does not look particularly hairy, and the brackets seem quite thin.  And if you are ever in doubt about which one you are looking at, the underside is completely different.  That last photo shows the underside of Hairy Curtain Crust on the right.  Here is the underside of Turkeytail:

Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail.  Underside.  High Elms Country Park, 8 January 2017.
Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail.  Underside.  High Elms Country Park, 8 January 2017.
Very obviously covered with pores. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Three Fields from 2016

Hayes Street Farm with Sowthistles and Scented Mayweed.  5 July 2016.
Hayes Street Farm with Sowthistles and Scented Mayweed.  5 July 2016.
Here are three fields from a folder of things I thought I might put on the blog.  This one is a field on Hayes Street Farm, quite close to my house, which I think must have been sown for green manure.  It was harvested several times during the year.  These plants all occur naturally in this area, but so many similar types all together is not normal.

But because it wasn't fertilised or tended, this field produced a great crop of smaller wildflowers during the year, some of which are quite scarce.  Keep it up!


View of the valley behind Leaves Green, 16 May 2016.
View of the valley behind Leaves Green, 16 May 2016.
This is one of several dry chalky valleys in the London Borough of Bromley, which extends well out into the countryside.  The yellow flowers are buttercups.

View across fields to the Enfield Road bridge over the River Medway, Leigh, 12 May 2016.
View across fields to the Enfield Road bridge over the River Medway, Leigh, 12 May 2016.
This spot near Leigh is a good area for botanists.  This particular field doesn;t seem to have anything unusual in it, but the display of dandelion flowers and seed heads makes it worth seeing.

But flowers are for the warmer months.  Next time, something more wintery.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Two Weak Horse-chestnuts

Horse-chestnut trees, Aesculus hippocastanum.  The Knoll, Hayes, 12 November 2016.
Horse-chestnut trees, Aesculus hippocastanum.  The Knoll, Hayes, 12 November 2016.
Two Horse-chestnut trees in my local park, both severely cut back.  Not long ago, we were warned by these signs:

Notice on Horse-chestnut trees.  The Knoll, Hayes, 29 October 2016
Notice on Horse-chestnut trees.  The Knoll, Hayes, 29 October 2016
Well, they have been reduced, though not really to monoliths (which means a standing stone or something that resembles one).  But why?  Well, look at this.

Fungi on a Horse-chestnut tree.  The Knoll, Hayes, 14 December 2016.
Fungi on a Horse-chestnut tree.  The Knoll, Hayes, 14 December 2016.
On the right of this tree you can see a series of bracket fungi, a Ganoderma species, and higher up a cluster of something else.  Those Ganodermas are tough, half corky and half woody.

Ganoderma species on Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. The Knoll, Hayes.  14 December 2016.
Ganoderma species on Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. The Knoll, Hayes.  14 December 2016.
I tried to get a cross-section of one of those brackets.  You can sometimes tell the species by looking at the layer between each year's growth.  And here, you can see just where my hacksaw blade broke.

At the bottom of the tree there are even bigger brackets:

Ganoderma species on Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. The Knoll, Hayes.  14 December 2016.
Ganoderma species on Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. The Knoll, Hayes.  14 December 2016.
Almost hidden by fallen leaves.  Still the same species.  It has penetrated all up and down the tree.  You can jump up and down on those tough brackets without budging them.

The upper cluster looks like this:

Pleurotus ostreatus, Oyster Mushroom, on Horse Chestnut.  The Knoll, Hayes, 10 December 2016.
Pleurotus ostreatus, Oyster Mushroom, on Horse Chestnut.  The Knoll, Hayes, 10 December 2016.
They are Oyster Mushrooms, a quite different species, an annual growth.  You can also see that the tree has a typical woodpecker nest hole and that the dead wood has many beetle holes.  It's not common to see more than one fungus species fruiting on a living tree.  Here there are three, because:

At the base of the tree on the other side:

Chondrostereum purpureum, Silverleaf, on Horse Chestnut.  The Knoll, Hayes.  14 December 2016.
Chondrostereum purpureum, Silverleaf, on Horse Chestnut.  The Knoll, Hayes.  14 December 2016.
Several clumps of a purplish fungus.  It's very pretty close up.

Chondrostereum purpureum, Silverleaf, on Horse Chestnut.  The Knoll, Hayes.  14 December 2016.
Chondrostereum purpureum, Silverleaf, on Horse Chestnut.  The Knoll, Hayes.  14 December 2016.
It's also very bad for the tree.  This is the fungus that causes silverleaf on plum trees.  It's a killer, but usually, healthy trees not related to plums can resist it.

So, three rather nasty fungal infections, plus birds and insects.  This is a weak tree and it's no wonder it was cut back to stop the wind from blowing it over.

What about the other tree?  Well earlier in the year I took this photo:

Dryad's Saddle, Polyporus squamosus, on Horse-chestnut.  The Knoll, Hayes, 4 September 2016.
Dryad's Saddle, Polyporus squamosus, on Horse-chestnut.  The Knoll, Hayes, 4 September 2016.
Large amounts of yet another fungus, Dryad's Saddle.  Here you can also see that the green leaves are turning brown too early.  This is because of an infestation by the Horse-chestnut Leaf-miner moth, whose larvae eat out the insides of the leaves of all our local horse-chestnut trees.  Although the trees survive, it's thought that this must weaken them, and these two examples support that theory.

Dryad's Saddle is an annual growth, and the big brackets drop to the ground in winter.

Horse-chestnut Leaf-miner, Cameraria ohridella.  On the door above my garden light trap in Hayes on 11 August 2015.
Horse-chestnut Leaf-miner, Cameraria ohridella.  On the door above my garden light trap in Hayes on 11 August 2015.
This is the tiny Horse-chestnut Leaf-miner moth - this specimen came to my garden light trap last year.   I have seen clouds of them around horse-chestnut trees in their flight season.  The species was first seen in England in 2002 and has spread rapidly through the south-east.

So the trees are supporting an excellent diversity of life, if they will oblige by not falling over!

p.s.  Here are three local monolithic trees to show what I expected.

Three monolithic trees.  Hayes Common and West Wickham Common, 24 December 2016.
Three monolithic trees.  Hayes Common and West Wickham Common, 24 December 2016.
 The centre tree, a silver birch, has probably reached this state naturally.  The beech on the left, and what I think is an oak on the right, are near paths and were probably reduced to remove the chance that they would fall on someone passing by. 

Of course it's possible that more work will be done on the horse-chestnuts, even though their signs have gone.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Winter Oysterlings

Panellus stipticus, Bitter Oysterling.  Hayes Common, 28 October 2015.
Panellus stipticus, Bitter Oysterling.  Hayes Common, 28 October 2015.
Here are a couple of oysterling fungi that grow on dead wood.  This first one, the Bitter Oysterling, grows in the normal fungus season and well into the winter.  It's easily recognised by the crackle finish of the upper surface.

These ears are only one or two inches across.  The stem of an oysterling, like that of a more normal oyster mushroom, is at one side.

Panellus stipticus, Bitter Oysterling.  Hayes Common, 28 October 2015.
Panellus stipticus, Bitter Oysterling.  Hayes Common, 28 October 2015.
Here's the underside, showing the gills spread out like a fan.  I have seen a few of these in the woods this December, but I only had my iPhone with me and my photos are not as good as these I took last year.

Another oysterling is typically found in the winter.

Panellus serotinus, Olive Oysterling.  Hayes Common, 11 December 2016.
Panellus serotinus, Olive Oysterling.  Hayes Common, 11 December 2016.
I spotted this Olive Oysterling over a week into December, on a dead Silver Birch stump.  It's softer than the Bitter Oysterling, with a slimy cap, and only lasts a couple of weeks in its prime.  It's not scarce, but I have not seen it very often, probably because it doesn't last. 

Panellus serotinus, Olive Oysterling.  Hayes Common, 11 December 2016.
Panellus serotinus, Olive Oysterling.  Hayes Common, 11 December 2016.
The gills are more delicate than those of the Bitter Oysterling, and that mottled band where the stem meets the gills is typical of this species.

There are other Panellus species, but I have yet to encounter them.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Frosty Virgins

Hygrocybe virginea, Snowy Waxcap.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
Hygrocybe virginea, Snowy Waxcap.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
"virginea" does mean virgin in Latin, but it also means unworked land, which is more appropriate for this small Snowy Waxcap mushroom.  This photo is from a walk in November just after a frosty night.

Hygrocybe virginea, Snowy Waxcap.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
Hygrocybe virginea, Snowy Waxcap.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
This is what's known as unimproved grassland, meaning no-one has put fertiliser on it.  So you get a range of wild flowers, and the grasses are not the coarse and vigorous types that like lots of nitrates.  Farmers might think that's an improvement .. ecologists, less so.

On the same walk I saw another, even more common fungus.

Woodland leaf litter and a dead stump.  Hayes Common, 22 November 2016.
Woodland leaf litter and a dead stump.  Hayes Common, 22 November 2016.
This is a path through the woods.  You can see holly bushes, and the leaf litter tells you that this is an oak wood.  Holly is a common and vigorous undergrowth.  (I took this shot a couple of days later to set the scene)

Xylaria hypoxylon, Candlesnuff.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
Xylaria hypoxylon, Candlesnuff.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
Candlesnuff is a small fungus that is very often found on moist stumps.  It gets its name from its appearance of a candle wick that has been snuffed out.

Xylaria hypoxylon, Candlesnuff.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
Xylaria hypoxylon, Candlesnuff.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
The white areas are the spore-bearing part, and when they are ripe like this, you can see clouds of spores being dispersed if you tap them.

Also on this walk I saw this Oak Bush-cricket out very late in the season.

Oak Bush-cricket, Meconema thalassinum.  Female.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
Oak Bush-cricket, Meconema thalassinum.  Female.  Hayes Common, 19 November 2016.
It does not look very healthy.  It's probably completely worn out and not happy with the cold weather - it won't survive much longer.  At its rear end is its long curved ovipositor, which it uses to dig under the bark of oak trees to lay its eggs.  That bark is tough stuff and it must be hard work to get in there.

Next I'll post some December fungi.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Small and perhaps a bit Too Colourful

Phlebia radiata, Wrinkled Crust.  Hayes Common, 16 November 2016.
Phlebia radiata, Wrinkled Crust.  Hayes Common, 16 November 2016.
There's a lot of this Wrinkled Crust around this year, on dead broadleaved trees of various species.  If you look at this photo:

Pond on Hayes Common, 23 November 2016.
Pond on Hayes Common, 23 November 2016.
You can just about see orange markings on that trunk in the foreground.  So despite the bright colour, they are not all that conspicuous.

On the same trunk are some other small, colourful fungi.

Ascocoryne sarcoides or Ascocoryne cylichnium.  Pond on Hayes Common, 23 November 2016.
Ascocoryne sarcoides or Ascocoryne cylichnium.  Pond on Hayes Common, 23 November 2016.
There are two Ascocoryne species that can't be separated without a microscope.  While looking at this photo, you can also see a black "bootlace" of the sort that Honey Fungi (Armillaria species) use to spread - very effectively - from tree to tree and along a trunk.

Calocera cornea, Small Stagshorn.  Dacromyces stillatus, Common Jellyspot, in the background.
Pond on Hayes Common, 25 November 2016.
Also on that trunk, two orange fungi,one small and the other tiny.  Small Stagshorn is easy to see when you get close, but the little orange blobs of Common Jellyspot are harder to see unless they crowd together in bigger clumps than this.

A short distance away, on a stump which was actually in the water, was this:

Unidentified Myxomycete.  Hayes Common, 13 November 2016.
Unidentified Myxomycete.  Hayes Common, 13 November 2016.
Slightly blurred because it was out of reach of a steady hand-held photo.  This is a slime mould or Myxomycete, not a fungus.  They are even more ephemeral than fungi, fruiting and dying back in a couple of days.   I have not been able to identify these purple blobs on stalks.

This is another slime mould:

Myxomycete.  Trichia species.  Hayes Common, 18 November 2016.
Myxomycete.  Trichia species.  Hayes Common, 18 November 2016.
It looks like an immature Trichia.  All these species like it wet - well, damp anyway.  In this particular hollow they certainly have it that way.  If you compare the photo above with the one in the previous post taken a few days earlier, you will see that the water level has risen noticeably.  The Inkcaps featured in that post are now under water, as is the stump on which I saw both of these slime moulds.

In fact .. here is the same hollow in February 2014:

Pond on Hayes Common, 9 February 2014.
Pond on Hayes Common, 9 February 2014.
Taken from the same angle, but from higher up, for obvious reasons.