With fungi still about in good numbers, not a day goes by when I don’t come across some ephemeral specimens. Below, I showcase two very unique-looking fungi, which are both saprotrophs of wood. It’s likely that – at least, if you’re in the UK – that you have come across both before. If not, then now’s the time to look!
Abortiporus biennis (the blushing rosette)
This dude is weird, and is so impossibly distinctive from other polypores that occur on dead wood (I have seen it on actual stumps and fruiting in grass, where it is feasting on roots below ground after the stump has either rotted away or been ground down) that you don’t even really need a microscope to discern it to the species level. In spite of its common name however, it doesn’t always look like a rosette and can instead adopt a quite obscure morphology where pores are on the upper surface and it stays as a whitish blob (sometimes exuding red liquid – notably when young). Thankfully, when it does achieve its ‘potential’, it becomes a very pretty polypore and releases a white spore that can be found to dust any leaves or blades of grass caught beneath the fruiting bodies.
For ease of understanding what I am on about, I have included both examples below so to illustrate the variability of this fungus. Also note that, when fruiting in grass, the roots it is devouring beneath the surface often leads to the fruiting body protruding out from the ground on a rather long stipe, which I have seen reach lengths of over 10cm.
I have not observed this species in a woodland setting as of yet. Instead, examples have all been limited to urban areas (including parks) where canopy cover is either non-existent or very sparse.
Rhodotus palmatus (the wrinkled peach)
This gilled mushroom is found generally on elm, though can also occur on other hardwoods in the UK. Unfortunately, since Dutch elm disease battered our elm population, it has become a rather uncommon sight amongst the landscape. However, it can still be found, and in this instance I spotted a few of them growing on a cluster of downed elm stems.
This mushroom has a rather pleasant smell, is very soft and moist (almost akin to oysters), and when young has quite the artistic form (as we will see below). The stipe is usually offset, and the cap is a very soft pink (though fades with age, in this example).