Fungal foraying in the New Forest

Both a friend and I had the pleasure of trecking around parts of the New Forest with a well-respected mycologist at the weekend. As you can very well imagine, we came across a wide variety of fungi – notably corticioids and polypores. Unfortunately, the poor light levels rendered getting decent photos of corticioids quite tricky (many were on standing hosts), so beyond some rather frequent Amylostereum laevigatum, Byssomerulius corium, Cylindrobasidium evolvens, Schizopora paradoxa and Vuilleminia comedens (which themselves were tricky to get good photos of) there weren’t many other opportunities. Regretfully, I therefore share below some images of poroid fungi and some larger Ascomycetes, though I hope you can nonetheless appreciate the finds!

We’ll start with a really cool find and a find that is my first for the species – the candlesnuff fungus, though not the stereotypical one! In this case, we have the candlesnuff of beech husks, known as Xylaria carpophila. As is evident in the species epithet, it likes to munch away on seed husks. Unlike its companion, it’s also much more slender and harder to spot. Your best shot is to peer into the leaf layer on the forest floor and hunt for some white hairs emerging from between leaves and from exposed husks.

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We now move on to some splendid examples of Kretzschmaria deusta, in both its anamorphic and teleomorphic state. The first set of shots is showing ‘kretz’ tucked neatly within a very tight compresion fork of a large beech, with cambial dieback stretching quite far up the insides of the stems. Certainly a site for future failure! The following images show anamorphic fruiting bodies upon / ajacent to Ganoderma australe (again on beech – note that we were also told that Ganoderma applanatum is genuinely rare in the New Forest, with most finds being Ganoderma australe) and then on the underside of a very decayed beech log and finally a failed end. As both my friend and I remarked, this trip changes our perspective on the fungus, and we now recognise it as an important species in the effective decomposition of decaying wood from – or upon – dead (parts of) the host tree.

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Moving towards the Basidiomycetes, the first set of photos to share is of Ganoderma pfeifferi on – you guessed it – beech! Honestly, this tree species is superb for fungi and probably the best of all native trees as regards to diversity and abundance. Some of the brackets on this beech has at least 20 sets of ‘growths’, suggesting they could be up to 20 years old!

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Rather similar to the Gano is this duo of Fomes fomentarius. On a large dysfunctional lateral of a beech (who would have guessed…!?) that has subsided to the ground, we can see the two sporophores hiding amongst brash.

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To round off (as I’m running out of time to write this post after a busy day at work!) I also share some Phellinus ferreus (now known as Fuscoporia ferrea). I won’t even bother noting the host as you’ll know already, and in both cases the sporophores are upon dead parts fallen from the host. Do note that the fungus also occurs on attached but dysfunctional (i.e. dead) parts of living hosts of species other than beech, too!

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Fungal foraying in the New Forest

Fungal feasts hosted by trees

It has been rather quiet on the blog front this past week, because I have been spending much of my time out-and-about. I was down in the New Forest this Sunday just gone, at Hatfield Forest the weekend before, and have also attended a conference or two – all in addition to my day job! Thus, much of my spare time has been spent deep in books, and notably fungi ones. After all, it’s the season to see them at their best, with many fungal species kicking into life, and because many associate with trees it’s important to know what you’re looking at – at least, to the genus level.

I could spend forever-and-a-day posting what I have found over the past few weeks, and thus to whittle it down to just a few to share here is darned difficult. Thus, the ones below are the more interesting ones that may not be seen every day, or fungi that are common but in this instance adopting an interesting form or state of decay.

Aurantiporus fissilis (greasy bracket)

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A fallen mature ash (Fraxinus excelsior) sports a large whitish fruiting body of the rather infrequent – but seemingly widespread – fungus Aurantiporus fissilis.
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A side profile reveals a slightly waved morphology. Pretty cool!
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What a great shot this is. Growing right out from the centre!

Baeospora myosura (conifer cone cap)

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This fungus is different. It is growing upon shed cones of a nearby conifer. In this case, it;d either be from a pine or Douglas fir. It appears to be the latter, though I didn’t look well enough when this fungus was found.

Bulgaria inquinans (black bulgar fungus)

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A fallen oak, which may have only fallen earlier on in the season, as leaves are still attached to the branches. Notice the large black spots all along the trunk and branches.
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Along one of the lower branches, we can observe a myriad of different-aged fruiting bodies of the Ascomycete known scientifically as Bulgaria inquinans. It is suspected to be an endophyte that strikes quickly after the host dies (or a branch dies). In this case, it got the entire oak!
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The younger fruiting bodies have an outer brown rim and soon ‘roll-out’ to form black discs (as seen to the top right).
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I threw this is as it is a lovely photo.

Chlorociboria aeruginascens (green elf cup)

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It’s this little dude again. I just had to share this one, as it’s such an awesome Ascomycete. Also note some sulfer tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) to the right of this log.
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A closer inspection, so one can admire.

Clitocybe nebularis (clouded agaric)

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Here the fungus Clitocybe nebularis forms a complete ring (fairy ring). It is hard to see, because of the brambles, but it’s a full ring and is very beautiful.
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Here are a few of the mushrooms, which soon track underneath the scrub.

Fomitopsis pinicola (red-banded polypore)

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A dead birch plays host to some conks of the nationally rare fungus Fomitopsis pinicola.
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Just below the failure point, sits this guy. A nice and lofty position from which to sporulate, no doubt.
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Slightly further down is another one, and from this example we can see why it is called the red-banded polypore.
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On the floor, the other part of the trunk is entirely adorned with the conks, too!
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Here are three younger ones, which lacks the mature banded appearance.
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This one even lacks the red band – it’s more of a brown-banded polypore! The best way to distinguish this one from other conks from the tinder bracket (Fomes fomentarius) and Ganoderma species is to take a cutting, if the red band is lacking.
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Some conks collected for preservation.
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The context differs from Fomes fomentarius and Ganoderma spp. in the sense that it is much lighter in colour – almost white, sometimes.

Mycena epipterygia (yellowleg bonnet)

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This oak log is carpeted with moss, though also has some little Mycenas popping through.
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These ones have a yellow stipe, and are probably (though the identification is not certain, as there are a few with yellow stipes) Mycena epipterygia.
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This shot is now my desktop background. Such a delightful little group!

Phlebia tremellosa (jelly rot fungus / trembling merulius)

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A long-fallen beech (Fagus sylvatica) is often host to many fungi. In this case, we have a later-stage entrant to the scene: Phlebia tremellosa.
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This cluster of fruiting bodies sit proudly adjacent to a single conk of Ganoderma australe. Both induce a white rot, and thus the wood of this beech is both very wet and very soft.
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Atop the trunk, these three specimens have a maturer colouration towards their centres.
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The ones on the side of the trunk are not as mature, though are certainly adorable. Quite fluffy atop (though still very jelly-like), if you get the chance to look at these under a hand sens then please do – they’re so cool!

Pholiota aurivella (golden scalycap)

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I saw a lot of fresh ones in the New Forest and they were sublime (they really are golden), though the ones at the base of this topped ash (Fraxinus excelsior) are more worthy of a place here. You’ll see why.
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They’re over-mature, and have begun to really decay.
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They still retain their lovely cap texture, however.
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Breaking the cap off reveals the gills below and the very decayed interior, which is being consumed by insect larvae.
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I ruined this guy’s home, unfortunately. I put the cap back afterwards, so hopefully the conditions persist to allow these guys to develop. This set of shots therefore shows the importance of decaying fungal fruiting bodies for insects and other fungi and bacteria. A whole mini ecosystem!

Sparassis crispa (cauliflower fungus)

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Found just this afternoon in a churchyard, this douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is supporting a mycelial colonoy of Sparassis crispa.
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Huzzah! Anyone for dinner? They even sit on a lovely bed of needles and cones.
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These are less than a week old, as they were not there this time last week. They are both around 10-15cm across.
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Another close look but peering down slightly.
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And what a view of the church they get during their ephemeral existence.
Fungal feasts hosted by trees