Fungi everywhere on a single declining beech pollard, New Forest (UK)

I was forunate to be able to spend some time in the New Forest yesterday, having driven back from Somerset after picking up a microscope (more on that, in due time). When last down there, which was during mid-summer, I spent a few hours sojourning around the Bolderwood / Knightwood Oak ornamental drive, with specific focus upon the myriad of mature and veteran beech pollards that dressed the roadside. One beech, even then, alluded to fungal parasitism, given its dire vigour and evident crown retrenchment (perhaps associated with ground compaction, given its close proximity to a car park and the Knightwood Oak). Therefore, I paid a visit to this beech, with the hope of finding some fungi – and I wasn’t disappointed!

I’ll actually be honest and say this beech is testament to the ability for the species to provide for many wood-decay fungal species. I really don’t think I have ever seen a tree more covered in fruiting bodies of many species than this one, and we’ll run through the suspected species below. First, we’ll look at the tree as a whole, however, and from the first image I don’t think there’s any debate over its poor condition. Granted, with the impending demise of a tree, weak fungal parasites and saprotrophs can enter, and this alludes to the cyclical aspect of energy transfer. In time, this beech will be the food for other plants and trees, though for now it’s fungal food.

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I wonder how many more years this beech has before its snatched from the throes of life! Probably not many.
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The arrows relate to the various fungal species found. Working clockwise from the tip of the centre, I spotted what I suspect are Hohenbuehelia atrocoerulia, Chondrostereum purpureum, Mensularia nodulosa (confirmed), Exidia plana and Bjerkandera adusta.
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Here, behind a limb adorned brilliantly with one of the ex-Inonotus species, sit some fresh oysters (Hohenbuehelia atrocoerulea). Evidently, they are free from frost damage, suggesting they are probably only a few days old.
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There’s also a younger set emerging just behind this cluster in the foreground!
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Looking down the main stem, here we can observe how Chondrostereum purpureum and Mensularia nodulosa are inter-mingling. On the whole, it appears the Chondrostereum is more limited in its amassed substrate, if the presence of fruiting bodies are anything to go by – the ex-Inonotus species is abundant on the trunk and further up into some of the limbs.
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In this image we can identify how the two species really do run right up to their respective thresholds.
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For good measure, these are older sporophores of Chondrostereum purpureum. In their juvenile days, they’d have been far more attractive.
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Further round the trunk, we enter the sole territory of the Mensularia nodulosa.
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Angling upwards, the slotted nature of the tube layers becomes very evident.
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Down on one of the buttresses, this witches’ butter (Exidia plana) gets comfy amongst mosses. Note that it’s more likely to be this species of Exidia, as Exidia glandulosa is more often found on oak. To discern between the two however, you’d need to inspect some spores under the microscope.
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Looking more closely one can appreciate (I guess…?) why it’s called witches’ butter.
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And up on another limb, we have what is probably Bjerkandera adusta.
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It seems to be ejoying the decay column from the pruning wound and general dysfunction.
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There’s also some gilled sporophores in this one, which could potentially be Panellus stipticus, though they were too sparse and too small to see properly.
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Fungi everywhere on a single declining beech pollard, New Forest (UK)

4 thoughts on “Fungi everywhere on a single declining beech pollard, New Forest (UK)

      1. I wouldn’t know. I’d like to think so, given its condition and the busy nature of the site during the summer (seasonal variance). Given the ecology it supports, I also hope that management aren’t too risk averse.

        Liked by 1 person

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