Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Morchella esculenta

Below are some close up shots of the morels/Morchella esculenta found a week or so ago. Click on the photos to enlarge the images.

The Trembling Brain. Tremella encephala

Earlier this year, up on Kilvey Hill I came across a mushroom I had not seen before. I guessed it was a tremella because of its basic jelly like appearance but it was not a mushroom that I could find in any books but I did find it online and identified it as Tremella encephala.

Tremella is a parasitic species that lives off other fungi.  Tremella encephala or trembling brain, to give it a literal description is firm to the touch and indeed it resembles a brain. In the photos above one can also see another mushroom of the Stereum family and online, Stereum sanguinolentum is given as the host species. The bracket shown in these photos however is Trichaptum abietinum/Purplepore Bracket which is a very common species that lives on conifers and it was on conifers that all specimens were found.
The Tremella lives on the mycelium of the species it's parasitic on so quite often the host cannot be seen.

Below is the mushroom seen under a hand lens and beneath that one can see a cross section through the fruitbody. The centre of the mushroom is intriguing. What one is looking at is the deformed fruiting body of the host.

The centre is a firm opaque white core. Click on the photo to enlarge.

One of the qualities of tremella is that they dry up in sunny weather only to re-inflate after rain. Quite a few jelly fungi do this. A month or so after the weather had been very nice I returned and virtually all had disappeared.
The photo below is of the first Tremella encephala I came across and as can be seen, the fruitbody had shrivelled and hardened into a dark crimson nugget.

Below are close up photos of the tubes of  Trichaptum abientinum/Purplepore Bracket. The lilac colour is clearly visible. As this mushroom matures the tubes turn from purple to a red brown.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


Coprinus, the 'inkcaps' is quite a large family of fungi. They appear similar to Psathyrella, the 'brittlestems' athough they are different. After a few days of rain, whilst passing by the civic court I found a few Coprinus. The stems on these mushrooms are easy to damage due to being brittle and on the whole, the entire structure is fragile.

This particular Coprinus is coloured a reddish brown, some of the colour seems to be been washed out. The cap also has a pleated suface, which are the gills showing through. The cap was 3cms wide and the stipe 7cms long.
As for identifying this particular mushroom, I have not found it yet.

Looking along the gills one can see a they are coloured with a white edged. The gills are free from the stem.

Two days later I returned to where I'd found the first specimens and was lucky enough to find some more at a younger stage.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Fairies at Court

At Swansea justice court one can see Coprinellus disseminatus (=Coprinus disseminatus)  Fairy Inkcaps.  They appear on mass then disintegrate, often within 24 hours..but they pulse outwards with vigour over many days so whilst many die away many sprout up in their wake, moving outwards like a ripple on a pond.

They don't last long. If you see them they are wonderful because they can cover huge areas. I was surprised to see them but it was worth it. By the time you read this they might most probably have all gone..

In the photo below, are new fruiting bodies and behind the decaying.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Morels at Oxwich

I'd been told that morels, one of the few fungi that appear in spring were out at Oxwich. I've never seen morels so a trip was necessary. I didn't find many but they are out in numbers and I did find a few which was satisfying enough.

Morels belong to a division of the fungi world called 'ascomycetes'. Unlike mushrooms that drop spores from gills or tubes (basidiomycetes), ascomycetes shoot spores away from their outer surface. This outer surface is covered in sacks, called asci which contain the spores.

When they are ripe and the mushroom is touched or blown by the wind they expel their spores in a way that resembles a fine puff of smoke. Changes in temperature can also cause the expulsion, something I've witnessed in a different member of the ascomycetes; Helvella crispa/White Saddle.

Below is Morchella esculenta/Morel

Other ascomycetes include Helvella/Saddles and Plicaria /Cup fungi..  Below is Plicaria endocarpoides found at Kilvey Hill.

Helvella crispa/White saddle. The slight resemblance to morels can be seen.

Morels are very easy to identify due to their irregular, honeycombed cap that's ridged and interwoven. The cap is fused to the stem which also irregular. The whole mushroom is hollow. They can be quite large too, reaching up to 20cms in height and generally tend to be solitary however they can be found in small groups.
They are associated with calcereous (chalky) soils yet they can also be found in open deciduous woodland and waste ground. The examples below were found in sandy scrub at Oxwich.

Morels are excellent edible mushrooms but they must be cooked. Eaten raw they can cause stomach upsets.

I also came across some young Hypoxylon fragiforme/Beech Woodwart. At this young stage they are a salmon pink colour.

At Oxwich

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Kilvey Hill

I went for a look up Kilvey Hill today. I left early and hoped that the weather would stay overcast. I didn't expect to find much at all and indeed, apart from lots of dried out Stereum there wasn't much but I did find one or two things.
Below is a very common species found on birch. Its Hypoxylon multiforme/Birch Woodwart. The fruitbody is cushion shaped and pimply. As the fruitbody expands they can coalese together to cover larger areas.

Living on dead wood was also Calocera cornea/Small Stagshorn. The fruitbody can reach 1cm high and is also widespread and very common.

The most surprising discovery was a Coprinus/Inkcap. I found three whilst out and I did not expect to see anything like this at this time of year. Possibly Coprinus lagopus/Hare'sfoot Inkcap.
All were growing out of leaf litter. There's a similar looking variety that lives off dung but none of these were.

The example below shows how the surface of the cap is covered in a fine, white, dense dust which also covers the stipe too.

I've added this photo not just because it's pretty but also because this is the first time I've encountered bluebells on the hill.

Waterfront Museum, Swansea

At the Waterfront museum in Swansea, emerging out of the wood chip mulch was one of the Peziza family. Pezizaceae or 'cup' fungi as they are commonly called, can be found all year round though many fruit in the autumn. Quite a few are specialists, preferring specific conditions or substrates to grow on. The majority need microscopic aid in identification. I collected a couple but I saw at least fifteen.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

March Fungi Finds

Springtime is not the time to see an abundance of mushrooms but there is always something out there. The weather for March was one of the driest on record. I didn't find a lot of fungi but instead had a couple of nice surprises.

I returned to Kilvey Hill a couple of weeks ago to see how some of the fungi I had found previously had developed, but most had been dried out by the sunny weather. On one tree I found a lilac coloured crust which could possibly be a fungi.It could also be lichen of some kind.

After a couple of weeks of looking and finding nothing on Kilvey I went down to the 'Pluck' after a night of wet weather. On the way there I came across Trametes versicolor/Turkeytail in good condition growing on a wood bollard.

At Lake Pluck, I checked on the Auricularia auricula-judae/Jelly Ear I had found previously growing on a large tree trunk. The previously evenings wet weather had revived the mushrooms and they had re-inflated to give a fantastic display. Below are the photos..

On the way home, along the foot path that runs parallel to the A4217 road, I was surprised to see another fungi that lives on wood. Daldinia fissa. I've walked this way for years and never seen this before in Swansea and only once before that.
The most common in the family is Daldinia concentrica/Cramp Balls. Daldinia concentrica is a fungi that is almost exclusively found living on ash.
Daldinia fissa (=D. vernicosa) is associated with gorse, particularly burnt gorse and whilst the gorse was not scorched I could not think what else it could be.

The fruitbody was extremely fragile and easy to break. These were hollow inside, except for insects.

In Swansea, the Civil Justice Centre has a scrubby area at the front with some bushes and trees and stumps. 
I 've found quite a number of fungi in this small patch and a few this year already.

Below is a crust, one of the  Peniphora family. The one bleow is Peniphora incarnata/Rosy Crust, due to its pinkish colour. This fungi is found all year round and on all types of tree, usually on the underside.