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)

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

Baeospora myosura (conifer cone cap)

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)

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.
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!
The younger fruiting bodies have an outer brown rim and soon ‘roll-out’ to form black discs (as seen to the top right).
I threw this is as it is a lovely photo.

Chlorociboria aeruginascens (green elf cup)

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.
A closer inspection, so one can admire.

Clitocybe nebularis (clouded agaric)

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.
Here are a few of the mushrooms, which soon track underneath the scrub.

Fomitopsis pinicola (red-banded polypore)

A dead birch plays host to some conks of the nationally rare fungus Fomitopsis pinicola.
Just below the failure point, sits this guy. A nice and lofty position from which to sporulate, no doubt.
Slightly further down is another one, and from this example we can see why it is called the red-banded polypore.
On the floor, the other part of the trunk is entirely adorned with the conks, too!
Here are three younger ones, which lacks the mature banded appearance.
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.
Some conks collected for preservation.
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)

This oak log is carpeted with moss, though also has some little Mycenas popping through.
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.
This shot is now my desktop background. Such a delightful little group!

Phlebia tremellosa (jelly rot fungus / trembling merulius)

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.
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.
Atop the trunk, these three specimens have a maturer colouration towards their centres.
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)

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.
They’re over-mature, and have begun to really decay.
They still retain their lovely cap texture, however.
Breaking the cap off reveals the gills below and the very decayed interior, which is being consumed by insect larvae.
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)

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

Two Buglossoporus quercinus finds from Windsor

Back during August, I and two other very boring people went on a little foray around Windsor Great Park, to look at the trees. At the height of summer, it really was polypore season, and we weren’t let down on that front – plenty of Fistulina hepatica emerging from the magnificent oaks, as well as Laetiporus sulphureus in quite awesome abundance.

We were, nonetheless, aware of a much rarer UK fungus: the oak polypore (Buglossoporus quercinus). Quite frankly, it’s very rare, and the biology of it little understood (sounds a bit like most fungi!). However, for those that are interested, there are some quite fantastic publications that one can delve into, and they are:

1. Natural England’s ‘Report on the oak polypore Piptoporus quercinus (syn. Buglossoporus quercinus; B. pulvinus) (ENRR458)

2. Martha Crockatt’s doctoral thesis ‘Ecology of the Rare Oak Polypore Piptoporus Quercinus and the Tooth Fungi Hericium Cirrhatum, H. Coralloides, and H. Erinaceus in the UK

Also check out this site for information. This page is managed by Kew Gardens.

Unfortunately, other articles are behind paywalls, and unless you are a member of the British Mycological Society then other articles won’t be available, though the other main one is again by Crockatt and, thus, likely contains simialr information to the thesis.

Anyway, as we were exploring Bears Rails (adjacent – and linked to – Windsor), we first came across – from a distance – what looked like young Laetiporus sulphureus. Therefore, we waltzed over, without a great deal of excitement, though that soon changed when we realised what we had found – oak polypore! Cue eager discussion and around ten minutes of taking photos, before walking on and discussing the find some more.

Later on, we were blessed with finding yet another example. Again, just outside of the actual Great Park, and even more hidden away. We only came across it as we were a little wary of whether we were trundling down a private road, and when we idled back it caught our eye. Again, cue lots of photo-taking!

Certainly, for those that like hunting for fungi, finding this fungus is a real treat. Of course, you cannot take it, or damage its habitat, as it’s protected by UK statute law (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981). Its host trees, very old oaks (veteran, moribund, or dead snags and stumps), are a declining population, and the Natural England report does a great job as detailing this issue further.


Oak tree #1

In total, there were four sets of fruiting bodies on this tree – all from oak polypore. Evidently, it has colonised almost the entire snag.
Up high on the stem sat this small guy.
Lower down, was this larger specimen.
A closer inspection reveals the very distinct the fruiting body.
And just below, out of exposed heartwood, was this dude.
On the other side of the tree, this fruiting body emerges from beneath bark.

Oak tree #2

This host is still alive, and in good condition (regarding crown density). Note some retrenchment, however – a lower crown is forming, below some loftier branches.
Can you see it? Look to the top right.
Huzzah! Coming out from the junction of a long-dead branch and the main stem.
Some pretty colourations on this one, too.
Two Buglossoporus quercinus finds from Windsor