Saturday, 15 November 2014

Week 43: Dapper Caps including Fly Agaric

More fruiting fungi for you this week although lack of brain power means that I shall have to leave the detailed reading up to you, if you fancy it. As a complete fungi foraging novice, it will come as no surprise that at the top of my list of hoped for species around Box Moor was the Fly Agaric. It is the archetypal mushroom with that beautiful white-spotted red cap, and….I had never seen it.

Last Sunday, enticed out by a little sunshine, I drove up to The Old Barn at Westbrook Hay. I hadn’t even reached the car park when I spotted what could only be Fly Agaric, growing by the side of the entrance track. To say I was quite chuffed is to put it mildly and I can understand Pat O'Reilly’s response whenever he finds a specimen, “my heart leaps and I experience yet again the intense feeling of amazement that came over me so many years ago when for the first time I saw this fabulous fungus in a forest.” I guess the sight of it is a bit like walking into a fairy tale. As children, we had perhaps assumed that along with the fairies, Smurfs and frog-princes this mushroom was part of the unseen world of imagination. To be faced with its very real existence, in perfect fairy tale form, is rather wonderful. 

In terms of its place within the wider ecosystem, Fly Agaric forms mycorrhizal associations with many different plant and tree species i.e. it enhances the availability of beneficial nutrients to its host. It isn’t one of the saprobic, nutrient recyclers, from last week. If you’re interested in finding out more, Pat’s article is excellent and well worth dipping into. 

Unfortunately, by Wednesday this week, someone/something had destroyed all of the specimens by The Old Barn. I did find another in Ramacre Wood but that too had been kicked/destroyed.

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
Cap diameter approx 130mm


 King Alfred's Cakes (Daldinia concentric)
Width approx 60mm
Clouded Agaric (Clitocybe nebularis)
Cap diameter approx 160mm
 Rosy Bonnet (Mycena rosea)
Cap diameter approx 30mm


Monday morning, full of enthusiasm after my fairy tale find, I returned to Westbrook Hay for more foraging. This time I focused on Ramacre Wood. I won’t go into detail about each fungus but will put links in to further reading at the end if you’re interested. The majority of species were recyclers i.e. saprobic (scavengers feeding off and recycling the nutrients of dead wood and leaf matter). A few were mychorrhizal or more specifically ectomychorrhizal. All 3 photographed above are saprobic.

After hours spent in the field, it’s always nice to come across something a little different, such was my luck on Monday. It turns out that there’s a white variant of the otherwise brown Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) and it is fruiting well in Ramacre Wood (if “fruiting well” is the appropriate fungi lingo for “there’s a whole lot of it”?!). It isn’t scientifically significant and doesn’t seem to be anything to get particularly excited about (according to this thread) but it was interesting nonetheless.

Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae)
Width approx 50mm


Jelly Ear & what was previously known as Albino Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae var. lactea)
Width of largest brown growth approx 60mm



Later in the week, I called in at Roughdown Common and found a few more fungi, a couple of which are included in the photographs below. Walking out onto Further Roughdown, I was greeted by a swirl of Magpies making for the trees, at least 14, a couple of Green Woodpeckers, a Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, a single Redwing and a mixed Tit flock including 7+ lovely little Long-tailed Tits. Over on Bulbourne Meadow, 4 Red Kites came through, circling high overhead, a Kingfisher called and a couple of Nuthatches probed for food in the Reflecting Willow, which, incidentally, has had a hair cut...



Rooting Shank (Xerula radicata)
Cap diameter approx 45mm, height approx 120mm


 [Roughdown] Inkcap sp
Cap diameter approx 30mm
 Deceiver sp (Laccaria genus)
Cap diameter range 30-80mm
 Russula genus
Cap diameter approx 50mm

 Lepista genus, likely nuda or possibly sordida
[Roughdown] Cap diameter approx 50mm 
Armillaria genus
Cap diameters approx 20mm, 40mm
 Conical Brittlestem (Psathyrella conopilus)
Cap only, diameter approx 12mm


The more I learn about fungi, the more I appreciate that getting to a definitive species identification is frequently impossible without microscopic examination or advanced ecological knowledge. I don’t have either of those tools so some IDs are left at the level of genus.

This week’s fungi list with links to further reading

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) [Entrance track to Old Barn car park & Ramacre Wood]
Clouded Agaric or Funnel (Clitocybe nebularis) [Ramacre Wood & Lower Roughdown Wood]
King Alfred’s Cakes (Daldinia concentrica) [Hay & Ramacre Woods]
Rosy Bonnet (Mycena rosea) [Ramacre Wood]
Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) [Ramacre Wood]
Rooting Shank (Xerula radicata) [Ramacre Wood]
Inkcap species [top of dell of Lower Roughdown]
Deceiver species (Laccaria genus) [tree covered path NW edge of Bovingdon Reach meadow & Ramacre Wood]
Russula genus [Ramacre Wood]
Lepista genus, likely nuda or possibly sordida [under Oaks, Lower Roughdown] 
Armillaria genus [path south side of Overbourne meadow, Westbrook Hay]
Pholiota genus [Hay Wood]
Conical Brittlestem (Parasola (Psathyrella) conopilus) [Ramacre Wood & path south side of Overbourne meadow, Westbrook Hay]
Hygrophorus genus possibly lindtneri [under Oaks, Lower Roughdown]
Tubaria genus possibly conspersa (Felted Twiglet) [Ramacre Wood]

And, to round things off, it's this week's Oak photograph. Its leaves are well and truly turning now.

3 comments:

Martin Parr said...

Another cracking post and a great set of fungi shots - especially the Fly agaric. You seem to have learnt a lot in a very short time about these - well done! Not an easy group to ID!

Boxmoor, naturally... said...

Thanks Martin :o)

dynigirl said...

I like a good mushroom, I particularly like the different shininess of all of these.