Urban fungi – streets and parks

It’s somewhat overcast at the moment and it’s rather cold outside, though that doesn’t mean the world grinds to a halt. Indeed, fingers might move a little more slowly and words might be slurred as the wind howls and the frost lingers, but one can retain enough sensibility to grab a camera and get out to look at trees and fungi. Perhaps this is when the urban heat island effect is appreciated a little, in fact – urban parks aren’t as cold as the open countryside! There’s probably a joke in there somewhere…

Poor jokes aside, my morning sojourn around an urban park and the adjacent streets was rather fruitful, in terms of fungi that could be found. Admittedly, as winter builds its temporary bulwark everything runs for shelter – fungi are often no different in this regard, with mycelium remaining cosily within its sheltered substrate. Sometimes, and notably for polypores, the weathered remains of old fruiting bodies signals the presence of colonisation, and thus many of the below finds detail this. Of course, one must still be able to identify the remains of fruiting bodies where they exist with some dignity, and therefore a mid-winter exploration can in fact yield very constructive results. For me, the diversity of finds in this state was quite pleasing, considering I spent perhaps two and a half hours essentially walking in circles. Granted, some fungi are true hivernophiles, so look out for fresh fruiting bodies, too!

My morning walk first took me to an oak I actually drove past two days prior, though unfortunately at the time I couldn’t stop. Thus, I detoured via this park first of all, and snapped a few (heh, a dozen…or two) photos of a senescent Laetiporus sulphureus with a great view of passing traffic.

In this dire light, this huge oak is almost a silhouette in the landscape.
Notice two historic pruning wounds where old poles (this is almost certainly an old pollard) were removed to allow for safe passage of vehicles.
The pruning wound on the right sees a single fan of Laetiporus sulphureus sit boldly over the road. Didn’t it ever get told not to play with traffic?

Detour over, I made my way to the main site for my morning’s walk. The first tree (or monolith) I came across, which was a horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), shown earlier in the year in this blog post, I inspected once again. With much of the dryad saddle (Cerioporus squamosus syn. Polyporus squamosusit had its name changed recently) now senescent and dressing the floor beneath, my focus was turned to the now much larger southern brackets (Ganoderma australe) and the myriad of silverleaf (Chondrostereum purpureum) sporophores that adorned the trunk. The latter were of interest to other park users, who were taken aback by the wonderful colourations of this species. In one of the below images, you’ll even be able to see its cerebral-like morphology.

Fungi everywhere. Literally.
You can see three species in this photo: Cerioporus squamosus (on the floor), Ganoderma australe (middle) and Chondrostereum purpureum (right).
Here’s the nicest sporophore of Ganoderma australe. It’s such a variable bracket in terms of its shape and colour, and this study alludes as to reasons why.
Some Chondrostereum purpureum that has both fresher and more mature (yellowed) sporophores.
It really does look like a brain, no?!

From here, I turned my attention to a few nearby trees. One hacked-at purple plum (Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’) was littered with Ganoderma australe and cushion bracket (Phellinus pomaceus) sporophores, though I admit I was more interested in the high-up Laetiporus sulphureus on a lofty black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). This is an association that is rather frequent, and given the higher parenchyma cell content of black locust, is perhaps less immediately serious when compared to the fungus’ colonisation of willow (Salix alba, notably).

The red arrow marks the spot!
Granted, this isn’t anything morphologically fantastic, though the longitudinal wound above to the right (complete with a woodpekcer hole just out of shot) probably is associated with the presence of Laetiporus sulphureus.
Zooming in 60x, this is the slightly blurred result. We can see the sporophores tucked neatly within the ever-common fluting present on mature black locusts.

Not too distant from this false acacia stood this ash monolith (this park is full of them, which is great), complete with four sporophores of Perenniporia fraxinea at and slightly distant from the butt. As you’ll recall from my recent post on the hosts of Perenniporia fraxinea, it actually has quite a broad host range (add hornbeam to this mix, too), though ash is arguably its most frequent host. The examples here aren’t too brilliant, though the one on a main anchorage root provides us with a curious example of why we should not just look at the stem base of the tree for this species.

Fraxinus ex-excelsior…!
Spot the three Perenniporia fraxinea at the butt and one just behind on a principal root (look to the top right).
This angle is probably slightly better for spotting the one out on the root, though in front of that is this rather flashy example of Perenniporia fraxinea in its less beautiful state.
If you still felt you had to re-position the Hubble Telescope to see the one out on the root, worry not – here it is!

Not wanting to now litter this blog post with countless examples of Inonotus hispidus on ash, I’ll instead take you to a close relative of this species: Inonotus cuticularis. Most often found on beech (Fagus sylvatica), though sometimes also oak, it operates in a similar fashion to its relative on ash and is therefore found most routinely on or around branch and stem wounds. Here the beech was directly roadside (and just outside the park), and the wound the sporophores were seen on probably arose from a branch removed during road construction / management.

A busy arterial road might separate us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be spotted…
…for repositioning the Hubble granted us this image of Inonotus cuticularis!
And this one too, actually. Certainly far more interesting than the nebulous notion of there being countless star systems littered across an endless spatiotemporal vacuum…?!

Funnily enough, this beech stood almost opposite a silver maple (Acer saccharinum) – again roadside – that sported a few sporophores of Ganoderma australe. The future of this silver maple is potentially questionable, at least in its current un-pruned state, given the aggressive pathogenicity of this fungus.

Not the largest silver maple, though its position certainly would prompt a discussion of its future management needs.
It appears that there could be the beginning of what is considered ‘bottle butt’, which would be facilitated by the selective delignification of Ganoderma australe.
It looks as if something caused the upper tier to break in the recent past (last few years), as new growth has been initiated beneath and thus a new bracket is forming.

Getting back into the park, there are a few fingal finds that are interesting enough to be shared. The first we have already seen on this virtual fungal tour, though this time it was colonising a poplar (Populus sp.) and was still attached to the tree. Yes, I’m harping on about Cerioporus squamosus! Up high on an old pruning wound sat a small duo of sporophores, senescent and probably sun-, frost- and wind-scorched!

I’m being kind once again – the arrows guides the way!
There’s some serious dieback around these old pruning cuts, in fact. Plenty of barkless area can be seen, and thus at least decay within these (hopefully effectively compartmentalised) regions of wood.
The 60x zoom coming in handy again for this shot of Cerioporus squamosus!

To round off, there was also another monolith (!!), and once more provided courtesy of a horse chestnut, acting as a host to two species of fungus: Ganoderma australe and the giant polypore (Meripilus giganteus). The southern brackets, by virtue of their perennial nature, endure winter quite effectively. The giant polypore, on the other hand, does not. Nor, probably, does it appreciate dogs tearing it apart and urinating upon it! Regardless, the sight of a wrangled and devastated Meripilus giganteus is a rather common one at this time of year, and for all you fungal sadists out there this is for you!

If you hadn’t already noticed (the eagle-eyed lot that you are), there is a tuft of grass growing out from the top of this monolith.
A water-soaked, blackened, deflated, slightly rotten Meripilus giganteus.
This one is, too!
At least this little Meripilus giganteus retained some form of dignity, staying somewhat upright and dry.
Urban fungi – streets and parks

29 thoughts on “Urban fungi – streets and parks

      1. Universal Tree Care says:

        Good. I’m looking to do the level 6 Professional Arboricultural Training at Tree Life soon, so I can get the frame work in to help build my confidence in respect to consultancy work.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Universal Tree Care says:

        I’m based in Devon, so the Westonbirt Arboretum. From reading people’s comments the course sounds intensive, which is good.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh it is! It’s an incredibly challenging course, though no doubt doable and helps raise one’s level of knowledge and awareness. I have already started working towards it for October, so as of a few weeks ago have been methodically going through the syllabus and pulling out information where I should need it. No doubt, this blog will have some info to help once I have passed the assignments, as I can then share some of the info here.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Universal Tree Care says:

        I still need to look at the syllabus. Yes keep an update on here for sure, as it will be useful for me and others to reference.

        I may leave the course until 2018, but not sure, as my buisness may well get too busy by then to commit. I have more spare time now, but I’m not quite were I want to be in respect to fungi identification and their ‘modes operandi’. Saying that, the whole course is based on course work so that eases it up for me little, as the exams for my degree were not my strong point!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Comparing the degree I did in Environmental Conservation and this course, with having done the Level 4 last year in mind, the work load is heavier with this route. Yes, there are no exams, but comparitively there is far more writing demanded of you in the Lvl 4 & 6. You need to hit all the assessment criteria and I recall spending hours on one assignment of four or five obtained every few weeks. It is easy to fall behind, so an injection of constant pace is required, else you risk losing momentum and always chasing shadows. That being said, it’s certainly worth it – you just need to mentally prepare yourself!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hahah no probably not! Though there is a possible forestry unit in this course (it’s optional, and the class votes and moves onwards a single entity with the decided two optional units of four potential ones).


      7. Universal Tree Care says:

        Interesting! I love forestry, but management plans were geared to much at economic gains for me. I understand plans are needed, but I’m more interested in soil, Fungal and tree interactions or the ecology of them. There’s an endless amount to learn about!

        I’m still waiting to here back about course fees, dates etc…


      8. Totally agree with you on the economic side trumping all else, though that’s the traditional forestry viewpoint and the entire ‘world view’ of foresters needs changing if the other factors are to emerge as important contenders as well. I think Keely is off at the sec’ for a Christmas / New Year break as I haven’t heard back in two weeks from an email, though they’ll no doubt be back again soon – probably this week!


      9. Universal Tree Care says:

        Yep, the forester paradigm needs to shift, and I think it is slowly. Especially with a lot of research looking into soil health, mycorrhizae etc.

        The auto response email said she’d be back in the office on the 4th of Jan, but yes, I’m sure she’ll be replying soon…


  1. Wim peeters says:

    Very nice read. Unfortunately I have allready a question. The monolith of Aesculus (2nd tree) has Ganoderma australe (Ganoderma adspersum) growing on it. How did you made this determination? Recent information tells that this fungus is biotrophic and dies with the tree. If that information is correct, this can not be Ganoderma australe, but should be Ganoderma applenatum (Gaoderma lipsiense)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would be keen to know what research you are referring to, as it is not research I have come across. The manner in which I discerned it to be Ganoderma australe (without microscopy) was via the tests detailed in this paper (http://www.londonfungusgroup.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Ganoderma.pdf). The upper surface was very tough and there were no signs of any insect galls. Combined with discussions with some mycologists on the ecology of the two Ganodermas, as well as what is cited in this paper, I hold the position (happy to be proven wrong) that Ganoderma australe can act saprotrophically, and it doesn’t die with the tree. I shall be acquiring a microscope in a few months so am happy to go back and analyse this particular specimen then, if you want? Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Universal Tree Care says:

      Yes, some people are saying you can only identify Ganoderma sp. by spore print, but the paper by Overall 2016 states otherwise. I think it’s personal preference and experience. That said Ganoderma fructifications can be very similar, thus hard to 100% identify.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Universal Tree Care says:

      Here’s a good paper in respect to Ganoderma spp. and their identification and invasiveness:

      Ganoderma on trees – Differentiation of species and studies of invasiveness by F.W.M.R. Schwarze and D. Ferner

      If you put the above title and authors in google you can download the PDF for free.


      1. Thanks! Read that one prior to now. An interesting series of observations, and one that I indeed carry with me when inspecting trees. Granted, the biology of the host species impacts upon decisions made, so G. resinaceum on oak one can be less inherently concerned about when comparing it to a willow or poplar as the host (seen it on both of these).


      2. Universal Tree Care says:

        Yes, different species will (or not) have a different chemical ‘armoury’ to attack a/the fungi. English oak are a good exemplar with high tannin content, thus a longer coexistence (in some respects) between English oak and a collection of Fungi can bee observed.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Indeed. F. hepatica is likely the best example of this, whereby it can ‘live off of’ the tannins, as you know. The creation of kino veins in some eucalypts is also an interesting adapation to damage.


  2. Wim peeters says:

    I have got this information from G.J. Keizer, 2015, Mycological tree assessment, Inverde, Brussels. The author claims (not in this book) that the case of te Anne-Frank-Tree in Amsterdam was a clear example of this claim. The fungus on that tree was wrongly identified as Ganoderma applenatum. He identified it as Ganoderma australe because of the fact the fungus was forming sterile fruiting bodies as a last attempt to spread its spores when the tree was completely hollowed. Nearly no living wood left for the fungus to live on.

    But I will be happy to see the results of the microscopic analyse of the spores of this fungus.

    Liked by 1 person

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