Fungi on deadwood – to the extreme

Deadwood has, is, and will always be a wonderful habitat for many species of fungus, both parasitic and saprophytic in nature, though there are times when it almost provides habitat on completely another level. In the case of this fallen Fraxinus excelsior (ash), which is now rather significantly decaying in parts, its entire structure is harbouring sporophores of the fungi Trametes versicolor (turkey tail) and Daldinia concentrica (coal fungus). Quite a sight, I must admit! We’ll work from the stump up to the top of the tree, in the below images.

A little cluster of the turkey tail fungus upon this very extensively decayed portion of the stump / lower stem.
Moving slightly further up, we see yet more turkey tail. The bark is still attached here (generally speaking), suggesting the wood is less decayed.
Inspecting one of the sporophores closely, we can observe just how vibrant they are in colour.
At the end of the lower stem / butt section, where the ash was sawn after falling, turkey tail have colonised very extensively. Not one section of this end is free from a sporophore.
Moving up into the crown, which sexists as a separate section to the stem / butt, we can see how abundant the coal fungus’ sporophores are. Unlike the turkey fail fungus, these sporophores are largely upon bark-covered wood, suggesting perhaps they prefer wood that is slightly less decayed. The bark will also create a more sheltered microhabitat for the mycelium, and therefore this fungi may be slightly more sensitive than turkey tail.
Further up into the crown, yet more sporophores of the coal fungus!
On the other side of the limb, we can also see how mosses have grown upon the deadwood void of bark, in addition to clusters of the coal fungus (of which a few are upon wood lacking bark).
And panning right out, we can see the lower section where the turkey tail can be found, and the upper section where the coal fungus has colonised extensively.
Fungi on deadwood – to the extreme

2 thoughts on “Fungi on deadwood – to the extreme

  1. I miss seeing woodland like this with all these familiar fungi. The woods in the part of Canada I live I have been clear cut which is regrowth and the lack some this biodiversity. The more remote areas have old growth and are really fascinating. I really like your blog; keep it going. Cheers Mark

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Afternoon Mark. Many thanks for your kind words!

      I share your pain on seeing woodlands totally lacking common wood-decay fungi – many around here are trampled to the ends of the earth, void of large amounts of deadwood, and have a rather sterile feel. Even the woodland where this was taken has areas of hornbeam coppice that are quite young in terms of regrowth, though there are some areas of older growth that probably haven’t been coppiced in nearly a century (as many of the birch are long-decayed dead poles, and those birch were mature when they were out-competed for light by regrowth). This part was one of those lapsed areas. Close by there were some dead birch riddled with Piptoporus betulinus and Daedaleopsis confragosa, too (long-fallen / snapped half way up the stem, may I add). I hope to see a lot of Fistulina hepatica and Laetiporus sulphureus this coming summer as well on the oak and sweet chestnut, as they’re the annual brackets that rarely persist over winter in any discernible form. Some of the chestnuts are massive.

      I’m also keeping my eye out for Ganoderma lucidum this summer in the woodland, as I found one nearby on a hornbeam last year and there’s some interest in trying to find more for DNA sequencing.

      Of course, young regrowing stands are valuable for many insects because of the herbaceous layer, though it’s all about a mosaic of different woodland ‘stages’ (with a large amount of old growth, inter-spaced with regenerating areas at different stages of regeneration). In this woodland, if anything, it lacks this mosaic, and is predominantly lapsed coppice with oak standards (and some chestnut standards) that need thinning or re-coppicing (but only in places). This cleared woody material can then be used for creating hibernaculum (deadwood piles), and it may enable a new lot of birch, goat willow, and other light-demanding species to regenerate from the seed bank that probably still exists to some degree.


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