Sunday, 27 February 2011

Burnt Ground Fungi: Plicaria

Kilvey Hill. Seven months after being set on fire.
Every year, Kilvey Hill suffers from being set on fire, which causes considerable damage to the trees, vegetation and soil. Last year was one of the worst I witnessed for these events and large areas were destroyed. For fungi that form a mycorrhizzal relationship with trees it was a catastrophe.
Such events however, whilst being destructive did mean that other fungi which specialise in areas destroyed by fire took advantage and started to appear.

These fungi are described as 'phoenicoid' or firesite fungi.

Incidentally Kilvey Hill is covered with Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) which is a highly flammable species which has evolved to depend on fire for its survival. Its cones need high temperatures supplied by fire to release the seeds from the cones. The fires set here are acts of vandalism but it's good to know that something positive comes out of the destruction.

I had been reading about phoenicoid fungi and decided to see if anything was growing on an area that had been burnt last year. There was; Plicaria endocarpoides.
Plicaria endocarpoides belongs to the Peziza family, commonly called 'Cup' fungi. As the name suggests they look like bowls or cups and Plicaria endocarpoides is a specialist that prefers burnt ground. Indeed there are many Plicaria and Peziza who can be found only in this kind of habitat.

Plicaria endocarpoides is often found in winter and can reach 6cm across. The photo of the fruitbody above was about 4.5cm across and I found a couple a little larger. The inside is smooth, finely wrinkled and coloured in shades of tan and brown whilst the outer side has a finely granular surface. Click on the photos to enlarge.

Kilvey Hill 23-02-11

On Kilvey Hill with Jersey Park in the background.
I returned to Kilvey Hill on Wednesday specifically to look again at a mushroom I could not identify the day before and for fungi that might be growing on the areas that had been set on fire the previous year. Kilvey Hill is often set alight during the summer and last year very large areas were burnt away. On the way up I came across a fungi I could not identify. (Below)

There was also a mushroom growing out of the bottom of a Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) on the way..

I had been reading about fungi that live on burnt ground and felt that there might be a possability that something might be there and there was. Below is one of the Peziza family clearly growing out of the burnt earth..

The other fungi I had returned to find was also in the same area and as it turned out was in reasonable numbers. Below is one of the Tremella family.

Amongst the tree stumps were piles of cow dung. There's a farm up here and the cows often roam around. As a result dung fungi appear and below is Stropharia semiglobata/Dung Roundhead, a very common species.

Near by and also very common was another dung  fungi; Panaeolus papilionaceus (=P.sphinctrinus)/Petticoat Mottlegill. The common name refers to the veil remnants that hang from the edge of the cap. It's basic appearence is a grey brown and dull or satiny cap that's bell shaped.
Both Stropharia (Roundheads) and Panaeolus (Mottlegills) belong to a large family of fungi called Strophariaceae which also includes the Pholiota (Scalycaps)  Hypholoma and Psilocybe (Tufts and Brownie) fungi.

Panaeolus papilionaceus (=P.sphinctrinus)/Petticoat Mottlegill.

There are plenty of felled logs on the hill and with them various brackets and crusts. Even though I can't identify these it was worth photographing them anyway. I'll attempt to identify them at some point.

The day before I had found a mushroom that I had never seen before and had spent some time looking for it in books and online. I thought, taking a guess based on its physical appearence alone that it was a Tremella/Jelly Fungus.
What I learnt was that Tremella is a parsitic fungi that lives off other crust fungi, particualarly Stereum and Peniphora and below I found a Tremella amongst Stereum

Below is another Tremella.  Probably Tremella foliacea.

At the base of the logs was Hypholoma fasciculare/Sulphur Tuft which can be found all year round although I've never seen it this early myself.

On the same pile was this beautiful violet crust. (Possibly Terana caerulea/Cobalt Crust). It might be that this is just the early stages of Trichaptum abietnum/Purplepore Bracket which is very common here so I'll keep an eye on this fungi to see how it develops.

Also here was Dacrymyces stillatus/Common Jellyspot

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Kilvey Hill 22-02-11

A damp misty day.. I felt I better have a look up Kilvey Hill to see what was about. At this time of year the emphasis is on looking for fungi that grows on dead wood and there is plenty of that around on the hill.
Not everything found was a 'bracket', 'crust' or 'curtain' and one in particular was a mystery.

I have to admit that I have generally overlooked these types of fungi in the past. 'Crusts' are not the most photogenic of fungi but under a hand lens their surfaces are transformed into canyons of remarkable intricacy and complexity.

It was not long before I came across mycelium growing on leaf litter and on broken and fallen dead branches.

Dead tree trunks and branches provide nourishment for 'crusts', 'bracket' and 'curtain' fungi. Below is a species I've had some difficulty identifying. The second photo is the same fungi but at a different stage in its development. It could be a number of fungi.

On a felled conifer trunk I came across a fungi I've not encountered on Kilvey before. Gloeophyllum sepiaruim/Conifer Mazegill.

The fruitbody is attached to the wood by a very short stalk and spreads out, sometimes creating a rosette look. It's maroon in colour and darker in the centre but as can be seen below becomes lighter as it extends outwards becoming  very pale at the edge.

Its surface can be slightly felty or hairy  to the touch and the common name refers to the pore structure underneath..

On Kilvey Hill there is one particular bracket that is very abundant; Trichaptum abietinum (=Hirschioporus abientinus) Purplepore Bracket. Its widespread and very common everywhere and very easy to spot due to the purple coloured pore surface, (which turns brown with age). It's fan shaped, up to 5cm across in rows or tiers and can completely cover tree trunks. It grows on fallen and decayed conifer wood.


Another species of fungi out in good numbers was Tremella mesenterica/Yellow Brain. The Tremella species are parasitic and they live off the mycelium of another fungi, Peniphora, (which is a crust fungi).

On my way down the hill towards Port Tennant I come across this unusual looking, jellylike fungi. I think it might belong to the Tremella family too but I've never seen anything like this before..

In Jersey Park there are two more bracket fungi to find before going home and both are very common. Below is Bjerkandera adusta/Smoky Bracket..

The pore side of this bracket has a distinct grey colour and when young the margin is white above and below. The fungi has a suede like feel and is leathery tough to the feel.

Below is a rather fine example in the variations of colour produced by Trametes versicolor/Turkeytail. This one was attached to an old wooden stump in the soil

At Lake Pluck.

On the 8th of February I went for a quick look for fungi down at Lake Pluck. Most of what I found was on two very large sections of cut tree trunks. Other highlights were teenagers smashing up a burnt out car and shopping trolleys taking a dip in the water..Nevertheless Lake Pluck is rich in fungi and last year revealed some great finds. Hopefullly it will be the same this year.

On the way to the Pluck there were two things of note; one was a lichenised fungi, Cladonia pyxidata which is common everywhere and the other was Stereum hirsutum/Hairy Curtain Crust, an extremley common species of fungi.  Below is Cladonia pyxidata...

Stereum hirsutum/Hairy Curtain Crust is generally found on living and dead wood of deciduous trees and shrubs; rarely conifers. The upper side of the fungi as the common name describes, is hairy with the underside smooth and bumpy.

Sadly, the Pluck is a fly tippers paradise and the sheer amount of rubbish thrown here is terrible..Inbetween binbags full of clothes and beercans all over the place I came across the remains of a huge beech tree that had been felled and on one large block there were a couple of mushrooms to be found. Below is a common species called a Smoky Bracket. Bjerkandera adusta.

The photo below shows the mycelium of an unknown fungus living off the the wood on the underside of bark

 There were two bracket fungi that I could not identify (below). If I could have cut them off the tree I might have done so but for the moment I'll leave them alone.

Also here was Auricularia auricula-judae/Jelly Ear. Very common and widespread. The samples below had dried out somewhat and were slightly brittle and hard. Auricularia auricula-judae/Jelly Ear is not specific with beech but can be found on most deciduous trees.

Another common beech fungi is Hypoxylon fragiforme/Beech Woodwart. They begin life a pinkish colour and slowly redden until they turn reddish brown and finally black. The surface of the fruit body is pimply.

 On my home I came across a tiny 'oysterling' mushroom. It belongs to the Crepidotus family and could be Crepidotus variabilis/Variable Oysterling but I cannot be sure.