Fungal finds at a local Apple Day

Autumn is upon us, and the apples are ripening on the trees, ready to be picked and eaten raw, cooked, or made into juice or cider (including cider vinegar). For me, the events (generally dubbed ‘Apple Days’) that come alongside this apple-harvesting season are great fun, and it was delightful to see people of all ages come to pick apples and enjoy walking through an ancient orchard. Quite honestly, small local events such as the one I attended today are a great way to meet people, relax, and overall have an enjoyable day, all whilst supporting local businesses that come to sell their products (I picked up a jar of cinnamon honey, which is absolutely delicious!). Beats staring at a computer any day!

Of course, I was there with a few intentions (1) to buy and eat local apples, (2) to explore the ancient orchard, (3) take photos of the trees, and (4) hunt for fungi. Brilliantly, I managed to tick all four things off, by the end of the afternoon. Nothing tops trying locally-sourced produce, and apples picked either directly from the trees on site or brought in from the wider area aren’t something one comes across every day, particularly if shopping at larger supermarkets.

With regards to the other aims on my list, not only were there some stunning ancient apple trees to get photos of, but some sublime fungi to go alongside – namely, Inonotus hispidus, though also a tier of Ganoderma australe. Any agarics on the floor would have, sadly, been trampled by those exploring, and from clearance work to create paths in the days before. Not to worry, for the Inonotus-laden apple trees went down a treat with me, and also some children who took a keen interest in them as well. Certainly, a great opportunity to teach them a thing or two about fungi, and their responsiveness to feeling the fungal sporophores and exploring the trees for other fungi was really good to see – they even found some more, as I could hear from a few trees away!

Below are an assortment of pictures from the various apple trees that did have sporophores on them, and the trees upon which they reside are – in themselves – quite sublime. Contortions galore, and that really rugged look that only an old fruit trees can really possess. Enjoy!

For those who do like ancient orchards, Wildtrack Publishing (run by Ian Rotherham) put out a good book on such orchards across the UK. At only £22.50, it’s a good price, too!

Apple tree #1

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A gorgeous little tree, though certainly not young!
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Some great sporophores can be seen, here.
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The one at the base is tiny, and very downy atop.
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This one is a much better example of a ‘textbook’ Inonotus hispidus, and is growing out from an old pruning wound.
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Probably my favourite photo from the day, is this one.
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A look at the underside here – complete with finger marks!
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Two more on this same tree.
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An over-mature sporophore, that has grown around a small twig – this is a phenomenon exclusive to the polypores, I do believe.
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And higher up in the crown sat this small guy.

Apple tree #2

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This apple tree sat away from the beaten path, amongst plenty of nettle and bramble. Not that the tree cares about that!
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Oh, look! More Inonotus hispidus, along a large limb or two.
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I counted four, in total (plus a fifth on another limb). All associated with historic wounds, it appears.
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A really interesting picture, showing how the colonisation traverses the limbs / stems. Perhaps colonisation came from both limbs, or broke through the ‘barriers’ present at a junction. Thankfully, this is a small tree and the limbs are rather upright, else it’d have a much greater risk of failure.

Apple tree #3

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Right adjacent to the second apple tree, sat this fine creature. A very sprawling and thin crown, complete with fungal decay along one of the stems.
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Entry would have come either from a pruning wound or from storm damaged limbs. We can see a pruning wound at the end of this limb, though given the apple’s age it’d be impossible to diagnose the exact cause. Inonotus hispidus is an unspecialised opportunist, making it a fungus that invades exposed sapwood, so either cause of wounding would suffice.
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A closer view shows it growing around many small twigs!

Apple tree #4

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Another apple tree that has endured the throes of winter, many times over. This one has a great crop of apples, too.
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And, again, no escape from the ravenous hunger of Inonotus hispidus.
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The sporophore sits directly adjacent to an old wound – an excellent entry point, for the spores.
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Looking up-close and personal, we can see how this sporophore has blackened in maturity (though looks fresh enough to be from this year), and is probably now completely inactive.

Apple tree #5

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Right by the stalls, sat this magnificent apple tree. Remains of butchered pomes can be seen on the stack of bramble, cow parsley stems, and grass. The stuff of nightmares – p(h)omicide.
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No less alarming, for the tree, was the presence of this Inonotus hispidus. Remarkably fresh for this late on in the season, so obviously we have a late bloomer here.
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Utilising the zoom feature on my new camera.
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And once again! Note the small yellow threads on the underside, which can often be seen on the crevices beneath a fresh sporophore of Inonotus hispidus.
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And one from probably a year (or three) ago, can be seen on the other large limb.

Apple tree #6

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If you look closely, you can spot two different species of fungus on this apple tree!
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One can be seen here, and it is…
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…probably Ganoderma australe! The ‘press-test’ resulted in me not being able to push through the upper surface with my finger, even with quite a lot of pressure, thus suggesting it’s unlikely to be Ganoderma applanatum. The fact the stem is living also makes it far more likely to be the former, too.
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The exposed context shows incredibly deep tube layers, which vary according to what phylogenetic type this fungus belongs to. For Ganoderma australe, there are at least 12 different types, each with different characteristics.
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Quite the sublime tier, here!
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And some Inonotus hispidus. Who would have expected that……..!?!?
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The one on the left is lazy and thus is resting on a small twig. Cheeky.
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Hopefully it washed its hands after, too.

Apple tree #7

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The last tree we will be looking at here was free of fungal sporophores!
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Just kidding – it had two.
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We can see them both here, just about!
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The one around 1.5m up the stem sits proud upon a wounded area.
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As does the one lower down. We can spot a very occluded wound just to the lower left of the sporophore.
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Fungal finds at a local Apple Day

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