FUNGI ON GEOGRAPH and some notes about fungi

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright February 2020, M J Richardson; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


Until relatively recently fungi [one fungus, several fungi] were considered to be plants, but molecular studies have shown them to be a separate kingdom of living organisms, on a par with plants and animals. With bacteria and invertebrates they are the great recyclers, returning nutrients to the environment for reuse by new generations of life. Just as importantly, many form symbiotic [mycorrhizal] associations with the majority of species in the plant kingdom; without these associations plants would not exist as we know them. No fungi, no plants; no plants, no animals; no animals, NO US!
Fungi reproduce by spores, which germinate to produce a mycelium of hyphae – fine threads that grow through the habitat – which produced enzymes that digest organic matter, which is then absorbed and used by the fungus. In the case of the mycorrhizal fungi, the hyphae penetrate or surround the plant roots and there is an exchange of nutrients – minerals from the soil through the fungus to the plant, and carbohydrates from the plant, from photosynthesis, to the fungus.
Identification has always been difficult at the specific level, and names and classification are still changing. Because they have never been well known, there are very few common or English names – there has been a misguided attempt to provide such names for fungi, but they have not been universally adopted. Identification to species often requires close, sometimes microscopical, examination and it is not always possible to be certain of the species from photographs

Some fungi are very good to eat. Only eat those which you know to be safe to eat – some are edible, BUT ONLY ONCE!'

Some books:-
Mushrooms. P. Marren. 2012. British Wildlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-9564902-3-0
Fungi. B. Spooner & P. Roberts. 2005. Collins. ISBN 00-00-220152-66
Collins Field Guide: Mushrooms & Toadstools. R. Courtecuisse & B. Duhem. 1995. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-22025-2
The Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain and North-western Europe. M. Bon. 1987. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-39953-8

The pictures that follow illustrate the different types of fungi. Some lichens are also included - they are a symbiotic association of a fungus and an alga [each combination produces a different lichen], and slime moulds, which are not fungi but closely related to the animal kingdom. Particular thanks to Lairich Rig, whose contributions have added greatly and authoritatively to the collection.

KINGDOM Fungi

Phylum Basidiomycota - Basidiomycetes

Agaricomycetes

Mushrooms and toadstools, boletes, brackets, crusts etc., which produce their spores on the surface of gills, tubes, spines or simple plane surface of the fruit body - some examples
Gills SO6425 : Fungus gills by Pauline ESS8683 : A Crepidotus species of fungus by Alan Hughes Pores NJ0830 : Fungus by Anne BurgessNT5882 : Shaggy Bracket near Gleghornie by M J Richardson Spines NX3055 : Hedgehog fungus by David Baird Smooth TR0062 : Fungus at Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park by pam fray

Mushrooms and toadstools:-

Some with pale spore prints:-
TM3893 : Shaggy Parasol mushrooms (Lepiota rhacodes) by Evelyn Simak
This common and edible mushroom can be found from July until the end of December, growing in mixed woodland and anywhere shady, particularly in the vicinity of conifers. This group was photographed on the bridleway > Link leading past Stockton Hall. It tends to grow in groups or rings but can also be found individually. Its colour is white but it will turn orange or red when bruised. Rhacodes apparently was a mis-spelling of the Greek "rhakos" or "rhacos", meaning "piece of cloth".
by Evelyn Simak

TQ4595 : Fabulous Fungus! by Glyn Baker
This is a Parasol mushroom Lepiota procera it “fruits” from July to October this one was on the edge of a field south of Loughton
by Glyn Baker

NT0776 : Wood Blewits by Greg Fitchett
There were several small groups of Wood Blewits (Lepista nuda) in a small Spruce plantation at Craigton Quarry. This species shows purple on the cap and gills when young but becomes browner with age.
by Greg Fitchett

SM9737 : Field blewitts by ceridwen
Blewits (the extra 't' is optional) come in two kinds: this one, Lepista saeva, grows on open grassland, often along field or road edges, while Lepista nuda, the wood blewit, grows under trees. They are very distinctive by reason of their purplish/lilac colouration when young (these specimens are quite pale) and also from the fact that they appear late in the year. They are good to eat, although they disagree with some people especially in conjunction with alcohol. They work well in casseroles and are popular on the continent.
by ceridwen

TG3203 : Fairy Ring Mushrooms (Marasmius oreades) by Evelyn Simak
These edible mushrooms forming clusters and rings are common in late spring and early summer. The ring is produced because the mycelium of the young fungus spread out in all directions using the nutrients in the soil, leaving none in the middle. For this reason they are easy to spot, as the grass grows taller and greener in the centre of the ring. Some say that these are the best mushroom to dry.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description

SE3315 : Honey Fungus or Bootlace Fungus by John Fielding
The fungus spread by means of long black cords called rhizomorphs which look like bootlaces. Underneath this mass of fungi is a tree stump.
by John Fielding

NS4473 : Rhizomorphs (thick fungal threads) of Armillaria species by Lairich Rig
These tough black threads are covering a piece of fallen wood; formerly, this "Honey Fungus" would have been identified as Armillaria mellea, but it is now known that the fungi that look rather like this belong to any of a number of quite distinct species. This particular example was photographed alongside the cycle path between Dumbarton and Bowling, where the path is confined between steep stone walls (the course of an old railway line); the photo was taken not far to the west of the tunnel shown in NS4473 : National Cycle Network Route 7.

Though we tend to notice the larger structures (mushrooms and brackets), a fungus largely consists of cottonwool-like threads (called hyphae) that spread inconspicuously through the ground, wood, or whatever the fungus is growing on. This photo shows a different kind of structure, rhizomorphs (Honey Fungus is also sometimes known as Bootlace Fungus; the picture shows why this is quite fitting). The rhizomorphs not only allow the fungus to physically spread, but they also serve as supply lines (in the following quotation, "basidiocarps" are mushrooms):

"Clumps of basidiocarps of Armillaria mellea, the honey fungus, are common on and around dead tree stumps in the autumn. The stump or the dead trunk and roots are the operational saprotrophic base for the parasite to act. Black, water-proof, root-like rhizomorphs grow out, ten metres or more, from the base until they make contact with the roots or trunk base of another living tree. These rhizomorphs are aggregates of several thousand hyphae. Specialized hyphae within conduct nutrients from the colonized food base to the new victim. These nutrients provide a massive resource to enable the fungus to overcome the physical and chemical barrier of the bark and become established within"
[Ingold & Hudson, "The Biology of Fungi", p162-4]

After penetrating the bark of their new victim, the threads spread beneath the bark, eventually merging into a solid black mat that encircles the inner wood of the tree (in places where bark has fallen from a tree, this mat can sometimes be seen); the rhizomorphs then send out hyphae (much smaller threads) to degrade the wood of the tree. Armillaria mellea causes an intensive white rot, and is one of the most dangerous parasites of trees, causing the loss of a great deal of timber.
by Lairich Rig

NZ1265 : 'shroom with a view by Andrew Curtis
Another of the old sycamore trees between the waggonway and the river fell this March. They are all reaching a certain age NZ1365 : Walled-up tree, Tyne riverside.

This one had been dead for a while and its rotting trunk could no longer support its dense cover of ivy. The upper part of its dead branches was the home of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and in spring rang out with the drumming of a male seeking to attract a mate. The nest hole and sharp beak marks can still be seen but the fall was sudden and many of its fragile branches were broken to small fragments.

The fungus which no doubt helped destroy the wood from the inside has now burst into life with a huge array of grey-brown shell-like fungi erupting from the surface, encouraged by wet and seasonably mild conditions. I think it may be the Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) which if I was more confident would make a tasty wild mushroom dish. Life cycle in action. The woodpeckers though will need to look for a new home this coming spring.

There is another photo here: NZ1265 : 'shroom with a view (2)
by Andrew Curtis
Shared Description

TQ4123 : Close up  view of fly agaric at Sheffield Park by Adrian Diack
This photo shows a close up view of a cluster of fly agaric fungi (Amanita muscaria) growing in Birch Grove at Sheffield Park near Lower Woman's Way Pond.
by Adrian Diack

SU3306 : Amanita rubescens fungus in Denny Wood, New Forest by Jim Champion
The amanita rubescens fungus (also known as The Blusher) is edible - in fact it is described by my fungi guide as "one of the best culinary fungi". Many of its close relations are highly toxic, including the similar looking Amanita pantherina. Risk of incorrect identification is high, and it would probably be best to stick to the cautious principle of not consuming wild fungi with gills. This specimen was growing beneath a spreading beech tree.
by Jim Champion

SY9788 : Clouded funnel agaric, Arne by Marika Reinholds
I spotted this beautiful fungus on a grassy embankment alongside the road near the church at Arne. A nature website ID'd it for me as a clouded funnel agaric.
by Marika Reinholds

NT1136 : Porcelain fungus by M J Richardson
A frequent fungus [Oudemansiella mucida] on dead beech, often high up on the tree. It is quite striking, pure white, with a dark ring on the stem, and a slimy sticky cap.
by M J Richardson

NR8468 : "Waxcap" mushrooms, Tarbert golf course by sylvia duckworth
One of the Hygrocybe species, flourishing in the damp Autumn weather.
by sylvia duckworth

NN7822 : Wax Caps by Anne Burgess
These are one species or another of Wax Cap (Hygrocybe sp) but there are many species of Wax Cap and it would have required expert examination at the time to identify them with certainty. Thanks to Mike Richardson for advice on identification.
by Anne Burgess

NT3337 : Toadstools on a fallen tree by M J Richardson
Mycena galericulata [Bonnet Mycena] is common and widespread on dead and rotting hardwood trees. These are in Pirn Wood above the Leithen Water.
by M J Richardson

NT3237 : December toadstools by M J Richardson
Fruitbodies of Mycena pura, a common fungus, especially of beech woods, although normally earlier than on a freezing December day. They smell of radish. A nose is handy when identifying fungi.
by M J Richardson

J4681 : Winter fungus, Crawfordsburn Glen by Albert Bridge
The velvet shank or winter fungus (Flammulina velutipes) growing on the end of a cut tree very close to J4681 : Stream, Crawfordsburn Glen (3).
by Albert Bridge

NT3237 : Flammulina velutipes on dead Elm by M J Richardson
F. velutipes or Velvet Shank on a dead Elm in woods by St Ronan's Wells. A fungus that thrives in the winter. See also NT3237 : Dead Elm with Velvet Shank fungi.
by M J Richardson

SN8260 : Red forest fungi near Cnol Wen, Powys by Roger  Kidd
The forest was dark and damp, and there were many of these Russula emetica fungi at various stages of development. These two were about 80mm in diameter. Their common name is "The Sickener".

Wikipedia has this to say: Russula emetica is a ... mushroom of the genus Russula, one of many species with a predominantly red-coloured cap and white gills and stalk. It gets its common name from its inedibility, as it causes vomiting and diarrhoea when consumed. It has an extremely peppery taste, which is said partly to disappear on cooking, along with its toxicity, though eating it is not recommended.
by Roger Kidd

TQ5323 : Fungi, Wilderness Wood, Hadlow Down (2) by nick macneill
The fungi were picked for a training day.
by nick macneill

The two large ones above are Milkcaps, Lactarius sp.
NX5960 : Pluteus cervinus by M J Richardson
A frequent todstool that grows on dead wood. 'Pluteus' because of the free gills that are pink when mature, no ring or volva, and a pink spore print; 'cervinus' because of the cap colour - Latin for deer is Cervus, which are this colour.
by M J Richardson

Some with dark spore prints:-
NT5027 : Phaeolepiota aurea by M J Richardson
A good growth of this relatively rare fungus near Selkirk. The largest fruit bodies were around 10cm diam, but they can be larger; the golden-ochre cap, well developed ring on the stem and granular surface of the cap are characteristic features. It is said to be edible, but not recommended.
by M J Richardson

NT1471 : Shaggy Ink Caps at Freelands by M J Richardson
Part of a fine growth of Coprinus comatus [also known as Lawyer's Wig] by the roadside east of Ratho. Black spores that have been shed from mature caps as they self-digest can be seen on the lower left.
by M J Richardson

SM8933 : Coprinellus micaceus in Granston Wood by ceridwen
(Formerly Coprinus) A saprobic fungus that grows upon rotten wood, logs and tree stumps, often in great profusion. The common name mica cap derives from the fact that the caps, when new, are powdered with tiny glistening particles although these may be washed off by rain. The gills rapidly deliquesce in a process of autodigestion, but caught in time they are said to make good eating.
Its wide distribution, and the frequency and density of its growth has made this fungus one of the best known and earliest to be recorded and described. It has also been the subject of scientific research for potential medical applications.
by ceridwen

NT2470 : Coprinus disseminatus by M J Richardson
For those who like common names there are two to choose from :- Fairies' Bonnets or Trooping Crumble Cap. This is one of the inkcap species, and is recognisable by its appearance in large groups on or near stumps of broad-leaved trees. In this case the tree is the same one that features in NT2470 : Killer fungus and NT2470 : Killer fungus - the sequel.
by M J Richardson

SO6632 : Shaggy Pholiota fungus, Awnell's Farm, Much Marcle by Bob Embleton
A beautiful cluster of the Shaggy Pholiota (Pholiota Squarrosa) fungus at the base of a cider apple tree in the wonderful orchard at Awnell's Farm.
by Bob Embleton

SP9308 : Old Sulphur Tuft fungi (Hypholoma fasciculare) by Rob Farrow
This group of Sulphur Tuft fungi (Hypholoma fasciculare) growing out of a very mossy log are reaching the end of their fruiting body stage; the caps are wide and little of the original yellowness remains, with brown spreading outwards from the centre of their caps. Beneath them however, younger specimens are emerging to continue the process of digesting the cellulose. Fungi that survive in this way are known as saprotrophes (see SP9208 : Pholiota squarrosa (Shaggy Scalycap) - young for more information on saprotrophes).
More Sulphur Tufts here SP9308 : Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) on log where there is more information about the species.
by Rob Farrow

NT2032 : Fungus in the Manor Valley by M J Richardson
Panaeolus papilionaceous [sphinctrinus] is common on sheep and cattle dung. The gills are dark and mottled, the edge of the cap is fringed when fresh, and the stems are long and slender [not as long as it might appear here, as it overlaps with a piece of rush].
by M J Richardson

NT2570 : I know a place where the fungi blow... by M J Richardson
To distort Oberon! In this case a Psathyrella species on a leaf-littery bank under lime trees in the Hermitage of Braid, Edinburgh. A fragile, delicate species, with dark brown-black spores, and needing detailed examination to be sure of the species.
by M J Richardson

SO5923 : Autumn fungus by Pauline E
A solitary clump on grass below a tree near the skatepark. If viewed at full size the pale green stalks can be seen more clearly.
by Pauline E

TL2601 : Agaricus xanthodermus (Yellow staining mushroom) by Rob Farrow
This is a fungus that it is worth knowing how to identify, as it looks remarkably similar to a field mushroom but is in fact poisonous. Agaricus xanthodermus can easily be identified however, because its flesh turns chrome yellow when bruised. As a general rule, any gilled white or cream fungus that turns yellow on bruising should be avoided as it is indicative of several poisonous species. When cut, the base of the stipe (stem) of this species should exhibit this colouration, but this snapped stem is only showing a little yellowing. The younger mushrooms, before the cap opens, look like padded drum-sticks - running your finger-nail across the cap of these will produce a deep chrome yellow colour. Note also the fawn scaly markings on the top of the caps and the skirt-like ring near the top of the stem on the open (and upside down) example.
See picked example TL2601 : Agaricus xanthodermus - picked
and bruised example TL2601 : Agaricus xanthodermus - indicative chrome yellow
by Rob Farrow

NT0879 : Fairy ring and fairy clubs at Hopetoun House by M J Richardson
Abundant fungi on the lawns of this historic house. The toadstools forming the ring are Stropharia pseudocyanea, and the yellow fairy clubs are one of several species of Clavulinopsis that were present on the lawn.
by M J Richardson

NT5148 : Verdigris agaric by M J Richardson
Stropharia pseudocyanea is one of a group of toadstool species with a characteristic copper/verdigris colour, this one growing in rough pasture near Lauder.
by M J Richardson

NT2032 : Dung Roundhead in the Manor Valley by M J Richardson
With the proper name of Stropharia semiglobata, this is common on dung of herbivores, especially sheep and cattle.
by M J Richardson

NT2032 : Fungus in the Manor Valley by M J Richardson
Panaeolus papilionaceous [sphinctrinus] is common on sheep and cattle dung. The gills are dark and mottled, the edge of the cap is fringed when fresh, and the stems are long and slender [not as long as it might appear here, as it overlaps with a piece of rush].
by M J Richardson

Boletes:-

SE3315 : Cep or Penny Bun by John Fielding
Found in the woodland margins at the side of the dam.
by John Fielding

ST8490 : Fungus or Mushroom at the Westonbirt Arboretum by Pam Brophy
An interesting mushroom under the trees in the south eastern corner of the square. This one is a Boletus of the chrysenteron group. Reliable identification of fungi is not always possible from photos.
by Pam Brophy

NN7822 : Orange Birch Bolete (Leccinum versipelle) by Anne Burgess
One of several species of fungi found in the damp autumnal woods. My thanks to Mike Richardson for identifying it as an Orange Birch Bolete (Leccinum versipelle).
by Anne Burgess

Brackets and crusts:-

NT2470 : Fungus fly's view of a Shaggy Dryad's Saddle by M J Richardson
A closer view from the underside of the fungi in NT2470 : Polyporus squamosus in the Hermitage of Braid. As they mature they become egg-laying targets for the fungus feeding flies [Mycetophilidae], since the fungus is the food of their larvae.
by M J Richardson

NT5882 : Shaggy Bracket near Gleghornie by M J Richardson
Inonotus hispidus, a bracket fungus growing on Ash. Saprotrophic or weakly parasitic.
by M J Richardson

NS3477 : Turkeytail Fungus (Trametes versicolor) by Lairich Rig
(Synonym: Coriolus versicolor)

This is a common species that is found all year round on dead wood of deciduous trees; it is also known as Many-zoned Polypore.

The colours shown by this species are extremely variable, although they are always arranged in concentric zones; compare: SM9736 : Turkeytail fungus (Trametes versicolor) and SP9310 : Trametes versicolor. It is easily confused with NY0468 : Gloeophyllum sepiarium (and I hope that I have not done so here).

The fungi in this photograph were growing on a section of a log near a small stream that flows out from the village of Cardross and onto the beach.
by Lairich Rig

NT6342 : Fomes fomentarius [Hoof fungus] at Gordon Moss by M J Richardson
An impressive bracket fungus on Birch in Gordon Moss Nature Reserve. Common on Birch in Scotland and northern England, but often replaced by the Birch tree polypore [Piptoporus betulinus - see NX4361 : Birch Tree Fungi at the Moss of Cree and NJ4203 : Birch Bracket Fungi (Piptoporus betulinus)] further south. Where it does occur in the south it is often on Beech and other hardwoods.
by M J Richardson

NT5132 : Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) by Walter Baxter
This inedible common fungus is almost always confined to birch trees. It is also known as Razor-strop Fungus, because in past times, strips of the brackets were utilized as razor strops. Photographed on Cauldshiels Hill.
by Walter Baxter

NZ1265 : Sulphur Polypore (Laetiporus sulphureus) on oak, Close House by Andrew Curtis
Also known as Chicken of the Woods as it is edible when young and fresh (and presumably tastes like chicken). The bright yellow, bracket-like polypore has colonised a side of the tree that had been previously damaged, maybe by a lightning strike, removing bark from one whole side of its trunk. The fungus causes a 'brown rot' in the affected tree, making the wood weak and brittle over time.
by Andrew Curtis

NT1276 : Bracket fungus by M J Richardson
One of those known as 'artist's fungi', Ganoderma australe. The spores are brown and are shed and dispersed in large numbers, many landing not far away, which accounts for the brownish haze around the fruit bodies. As the photo was taken spores could been seen drifting down from the under surfaces of the brackets.
by M J Richardson

NT2470 : Killer fungus by M J Richardson
Meripilus giganteus, a fungus that is able to infect and kill trees, especially beech. It produces these large brackets which produce spores that are dispersed and infect other trees. The fungus will continue to appear on the dead tree for several years, living off the dead wood. Important recyclers as well as parasites. This one was on the forecourt of the local petrol station. The tree fell over on 29 February 2008, and a cross section of the stump shows the infection NT2470 : Killer fungus - the sequel. Another tree on the site, an oak, was felled in November 2008 - for a sequence of pictures showing its demise over two hours see NT2470 : Two hours in the life and death of an oak tree [1].
by M J Richardson
Shared Description

NY0468 : Gloeophyllum sepiarium by M J Richardson
Sorry, no common name. A common and widespread bracket fungus on dead coniferous wood, especially in the north. It looks a bit like Trametes versicolor, another common bracket fungus on wood [see NS3477 : Turkeytail Fungus (Trametes versicolor) and NT2340 : Stump flap or bracket fungus]., but it has a brown, almost gill-like undersurface, rather than white pores. Plenty of it here, where the forest on Longbridge Muir has been felled to allow the bog to be restored.
by M J Richardson

TQ7917 : Wood cauliflower fungus, Oaklands Park by Patrick Roper
This wood cauliflower or brain fungus (Sparassis crispa) was growing at the base of a Scot's pine in Oaklands Park on the estate of the Pestalozzi International Village. It is scarce in our district, but difficult to overlook.
by Patrick Roper

SU3404 : Sparassis crispa fungus, Woodfidley, New Forest by Jim Champion
Growing at the base of a large pine tree on Woodfidley hill in the Denny Lodge Inclosure, this sparassis crispa fruiting body weighed in at nearly 1.5 kilograms. Also known as the "Cauliflower Fungus", its flesh is edible with a very mild taste. There is a similar species called Sparassis brevipes which is also edible, but shouldn't be picked as it is an endangered species.
by Jim Champion

SN0238 : An a-maze-ing fungus! by ceridwen
The underside of Daedalea quercina displays wide gill-like pores radially-aligned in a pattern that resembles a maze. It is from this remarkable labyrinthine structure that the fungus gets its generic name for, according to Greek mythology it was Daedalus who constructed for King Minos, at Knossus, a labyrinth in which lived the Minotaur.
These fungi are said to have been used as curry-combs for horses with tender skins, and like other brackets, for tinder when dried.
by ceridwen

NT2339 : Bracket fungus - Heterobasidion annosum by M J Richardson
Once upon a time better known as Fomes annosus. An important fungus in forestry as it kills conifers [some might think that a plus point]. Roots of healthy trees in dense plantations, crossing roots from infected stumps, can become infected, so the disease spreads. The upper surface is a rich reddish-brown crust, almost varnished in appearance, and the pore surface underneath is quite bright white. It is very common - this one is on a stump of a conifer in South Park Wood at Peebles.
by M J Richardson

TR2843 : Laetiporus sulphureus, growing on a willow tree in Kearsney Abbey by pam fray
Otherwise known as chicken-of-the-woods, this an edible bracket fungus that grows on deciduous trees and yew. I haven't tried eating it.
by pam fray

SN1725 : Tyromyces, the cheese fungus by ceridwen
This is a odd-looking polyporous fungus that infests decaying trees; it does resemble lumps of a hard white cheesey substance. There are several species and I am unable to say which one this is.
by ceridwen

NM3125 : Schizophyllum commune by M J Richardson
A close up of an interesting fungus erupting from a plastic-wrapped hay bale at Kintra. The fungus grows mainly on dead wood, but is increasingly being found on bales like this; it has also been found causing mouth ulcers and toe nail infections in humans. For a general view see NM3125 : Fungus on plastic-wrapped bale.
by M J Richardson

Tooth fungi, chanterelles and clubs:-

NS3778 : A fungus - Radulomyces confluens by Lairich Rig
This fungus was about 4cm across, and was growing in a small clump of trees beside the course of an old drove road. It is a fairly common species, though rather unusual in its appearance; it is often covered with warty projections, as shown here.

It is described and illustrated in the book "Fungi of Switzerland – Vol 2" (Breitenbach/Kränzlin) under the synonym Cerocorticium confluens. The book mentions that the most common host is Fagus (beech), that the fungus is soft and waxy in consistency, and that, when moist, as in my own photograph, it is "cream-coloured to greyish-ochre with bluish gleam, hygrophanous and somewhat opalescent".

A "hygrophanous" fungus is one that looks different (specifically, less opaque) when wet. To illustrate what is meant: a piece of tissue paper shows a similar visual change, but a piece of candle wax does not.
by Lairich Rig

NS3976 : Silverleaf Fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum) by Lairich Rig
(An older synonym is Stereum purpureum.)

The fungus was growing on a small tree stump alongside a NS3976 : Footpath beside the River Leven, opposite Gooseholm Water Pumping Station. Some parts encrusted the surface, as shown here, while others were in the form of small brackets arranged in tiers (see SK4344 : Beech stump for an example). The young specimens shown here were strikingly coloured, while some older examples on the same stump showed duller brown shades (compare SM9737 : Silverleaf fungus).

This is a widespread and common species, often found on dead wood, especially of broad-leaved trees. It sometimes occurs in living trees, and can cause "silver leaf disease" in fruit trees.

"Plum trees are particularly susceptible. The first visible sign of infection is silvering of the leaves due to the upper epidermis becoming separated from the rest of the leaf and lifting in patches" ["Mushrooms and other fungi of Great Britain and Ireland", Roger Phillips, 1981].
by Lairich Rig

NH9617 : Hydnellum, a tooth fungus by M J Richardson
These tough tooth fungi are characteristic of northern coniferous forests. It is only relatively recently that it has been realised that they occur quite frequently in suitable habitats, but they are often well camouflaged. This one, in the Abernethy forest, very close to the shore of Loch Mallachie, is possibly a new record for Britain, if its identity is confirmed.
by M J Richardson

NN1110 : Chanterelle, Cantharellus cibarius by David P Howard
Chanterelle fungi growing on a mossy bank by the side of the estate road.
by David P Howard

NT6272 : Horn of Plenty by M J Richardson
Craterellus cornucopioides, a relative of the chanterelles, plentiful in Pressmennan Wood - more than I've ever found before, and reportedly good to eat and much sought after, despite its appearance. I was not impressed by their culinary qualities.
by M J Richardson

NS3984 : Wood Hedgehog Fungus by Lairich Rig
(Hydnum repandum)

There are several English names for this species; "Wood Hedgehog", for example, is the one recommended by the British Mycological Society.

Toothed fungi are common among those species that form a flat crust on wood (the so-called resupinate fungi), but mushrooms that have teeth or spines on the underside of their caps are less familiar.

The patch of mushrooms shown here, all of the same species, was just to the south of a path through Whinny Hill Woodland; specifically, it was beside the part of the route that is shown in NS3984 : Path through the woods, although the path there has been upgraded in the interval since that picture was taken.

The mushrooms are growing around the base of a beech tree, and probably in mycorrhizal association with it (meaning that the fine fungal threads that make up the mycelium, the more extensive underground portion of the fungus, are in a symbiotic association with the roots of the tree). Beech is one of the species of tree with which the Hedgehog Fungus commonly forms such an association.
by Lairich Rig

NS3977 : A fungus - Mucronella species by Lairich Rig
The patch of fungus shown in this photograph is about 8cm across, and the individual spines are up to 8 millimetres long. As far as I know, the Mucronella species found in Britain are M. flava and M. calva: the former usually has yellow spines, and the latter has (according to the literature) shorter spines; it is not clear which of those species is depicted in this picture (Mucronella bresadolae looks very similar, but is not a British species — at least, not as far as I know).

The spines are growing directly downwards (geotropic growth). The fungus is on a fallen conifer near the corner of a road in the Vale of Leven Industrial Estate. That corner is at the far end of the section of road shown in NS3978 : Vale of Leven, Strathleven Industrial Estate.
by Lairich Rig

NT1865 : Macrotyphula fistulosa by M J Richardson
A slender club fungus [which has also been known as Clavaria or Clavariadelphus fistulosa/us], growing in mixed leaf litter and twigs at Harlaw. This was 9cm tall, but can grow much taller.
by M J Richardson

NT5148 : A 'fairy club' fungus by M J Richardson
This one is Clavulinopsis corniculata, common in rough grassland.
by M J Richardson

NS4279 : A fungus: White Spindles by Lairich Rig
(Clavaria fragilis, syn. Clavaria vermicularis)

The first of the Latin names given above alludes to the fragility of the fruiting bodies (they feel rubbery, but they are also very brittle, and attempting to pull one of the spindles out, even gently, will often simply cause it to snap); the second name alludes to their wormlike form.

I had encountered several examples of the similar Golden Spindles (said to be widespread but not particularly common) on the same day (NS4278 : A fungus: Golden Spindles), but only a single example of White Spindles (said to be widespread, but uncommon or rare).

It was growing in a habitat like that of Golden Spindles: grassy moorland, cropped by sheep.
by Lairich Rig

NS4278 : A fungus: Golden Spindles by Lairich Rig
(Clavulinopsis fusiformis)

The species is widespread but not particularly common. This specimen is less spindly and more chunky than is usual, but it was similar to all of those that were to be found in this area; I encountered several examples in locations scattered across the muir, but always in short grass (sheep graze here).

The one shown in the present picture was growing not far from the ruins of Auchenreoch. Several examples I encountered were growing on old field boundaries (in the form of low grassy linear mounds) near the ruin. See NS4278 : Old boundary beside the ruins of Auchenreoch, taken nearby, for an impression of the typical habitat.

On the same excursion, I encountered a single example of the similar but less common White Spindles: NS4279 : A fungus: White Spindles. It is usually described as being widespread, but uncommon or rare.
by Lairich Rig

Gasteromycetes - puffballs and relatives:-

TQ8391 : Common Puffball by John Myers
Lycoperdon perlatum
by John Myers

NT7870 : Puffballs in Tower Dean by M J Richardson
Lycoperdon pyriforme, the only British puffball that grows on wood, on a pile of cut wood in the Scottish Wildlife Trust Pease Dean Reserve.
by M J Richardson

NS3978 : Common Puffball - Lycoperdon perlatum by Lairich Rig
For context, see NS3978 : Path through the woods.

The puffballs have lost most of their spines; however, this brings into view an intricate surface tessellation, best seen in larger image sizes. In that pattern, the larger, paler areas are where the spines were attached.

For younger examples, with spines, see SX8754 : Puffballs, Greenway and J4477 : Fungus, Ballysallagh forest, Craigantlet (3). This frequently-encountered species occurs in mixed woods and conifer woods, but is also often found in open grassy spaces ["Fungi without Gills", M B Ellis & J P Ellis].
by Lairich Rig

SE2231 : Giant Puffball by Tong Lane by Rich Tea
Walking up the pavement on the north side of Tong Lane, I spotted it under the hedge. It was about the size of a football.
by Rich Tea

SE4140 : Birds Nest Fungus by M J Richardson
Crucibulum laeve is a frequent and attractive birds nest fungus - the 'nests' are about 1cm diam. and the 'eggs' contain spores, and are dispersed by raindrops.
by M J Richardson

NT4936 : A Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) by Walter Baxter
This was one of several which appeared around a conifer in my back garden. The unpleasant smell of this fungus is unmistakable and flies are attracted to the slimy head. Slime sticks to the legs of flies which acts as a means of spore dispersal.
by Walter Baxter

TQ1361 : Aseroe rubra, Esher Common by Alan Hunt
A freshly emerged example of this wonderfully bizarre looking fungus.
by Alan Hunt

Dacrymycetes and Tremellomycetes - jelly fungi:-

NO5251 : Calocera viscosa by M J Richardson
A jelly fungus that grows on dead coniferous wood, in this case a fallen and almost dead larch at Balgavies Loch Wildlife Reserve NO5251 : Fallen larch at Balgavies Loch. Sometimes called 'Stag's horn fungus', but that name is more often used for the black and white candle snuff fungus [Xylaria hypoxylon SN0239 : Candle snuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)], which shows that even 'common' or 'English' names can cause as much confusion as the Latin ones.
by M J Richardson

ST4866 : Little brown umbrellas by Neil Owen
Some fungi have broken out on this upright branch of a tree. Following consultation, the fungi are Jew's Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae) - a member of the jelly types (Heterobasidiomycetes) - and are particularly fond of elder as a host.

Acknowledgement and thanks to Barbara, marshman and Pilobolus.
by Neil Owen

NX8552 : Jelly fungus on gorse by M J Richardson
A strikingly colourful fungus [Tremella mesenterica], common and widespread, especially on gorse. It does not actually grow on the gorse, but is parasitic on the mycelium of other fungi [Peniophora spp.] that do.
by M J Richardson

NS4175 : Yellow Brain Fungus by Lairich Rig
(Tremella mesenterica)

This is one of the most frequently encountered of the Jelly Fungi. Shown here is a particularly large group which was about 15cm (6") high. Prolonged dry weather will make this fungus shrivel to a fraction of its normal size, but it returns to normal size when next moistened. This fungus is usually coloured as shown here, but it can also occur as forms that are colourless (or nearly so).

[Those more washed-out forms used to be considered another species, Tremella lutescens, but they are now generally thought merely to be colour variants rather than a different species. As a final twist, similar but colourless fungi could also be something entirely different, such as NS3983 : White Brain fungus (Exidia thuretiana) or NS3878 : Crystal Brain Fungus (Exidia nucleata).]
by Lairich Rig

NS4883 : Leafy Brain Fungus by Lairich Rig
(Tremella foliacea)

This large, well-developed example was located in the area of woodland that slopes down towards the Carnock Burn from the north; the fungus was growing only a few metres west of a NS4883 : Ford across the Carnock Burn, and not far downhill from a ruin (NS4883 : Ruin beside the Carnock Burn).
by Lairich Rig

NS4276 : A fungus - Exidia recisa by Lairich Rig
This is one of the jelly fungi. The individual fruiting bodies shown here are a centimetre or so across. This species is sufficiently uncommon as not to be included in most identification guides aimed at the general public. On the other hand, the species is not rare, although it is probably under-reported.

The fruiting bodies are generally inconspicuous except after periods of wet weather. I was fortunate enough to come across these ones in a sunlit situation. The crimped circular edge of the underside is well seen in this view.

The fungi were beside a footpath through the woods in the Overtoun Estate, not far from the NS4276 : Former dam and lily pond.
by Lairich Rig

Pucciniomycetes and Ustilaginomycetes - rust and smut fungi:-

These are all parasitic on plants, and can cause considerable economic damage to crop plants
J3371 : Rust fungus, Belfast by Albert Bridge
Bramble rust fungus, on a leaf close to J3371 : Blackberries, Belfast (2) in the car park near the Stranmillis roundabout.
by Albert Bridge

NS4274 : Rust fungus on Ramsons by Lairich Rig
The plant is on NS4373 : Ramsons (Allium ursinum), also called Wild Garlic.

The rust fungus Puccinia sessilis (Arum Rust or Ramsons Rust) has caused the yellow patches on the leaves; closer inspection reveals each patch to consist of many much smaller yellow reproductive structures called aecia (singular aecium): NS4274 : Ramsons Rust (Puccinia sessilis).

The plant is beside the footpath (part of cycle route NCN 7) between the Milton Animal Home and the railway line. The path has been included in the view for context. For more context, see NS4274 : Cycle path crossing the Milton Burn, in which this area is just to the right of the path, not far beyond the point where it crosses the burn.
by Lairich Rig
Shared Description

NS3976 : Meadowsweet Rust (Triphragmium ulmariae) by Lairich Rig
Just beyond the bridge shown in NS3976 : Footbridge on Cycle Route, on the left-hand side of the path, there were several examples of this rust fungus growing on meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria, at the edge of the field.

It is often seen, as in this photograph, on the leaf-stalks and midribs, where it causes swellings that can be considered plant galls. These conspicuously orange areas are covered in aecia (for which, see NS3679 : Gall on nettle, which also comments upon the complex life cycle of rust fungi).

A different kind of gall, caused by insects, had formerly been common on the meadowsweet plants in this area: NS3976 : Galls on Meadowsweet. However, the cycle route was resurfaced in late 2008 to early 2009, causing some disruption to the plant-life alongside it; as of 2010, the latter kind of gall did not yet appear to have returned (or, at least, not in such numbers as to be noticeable).
by Lairich Rig

NS3679 : Gall on nettle by Lairich Rig
This gall is very common on nettles, and can appear on the stem, leaf stalk, leaf, or the (very small and inconspicuous) flowers of the plant. The gall is caused by a fungus, Puccinia urticata ("nettle rust", or "nettle clustercup rust").

Aside from causing obvious swelling, the gall can be seen to be dotted with numerous so-called cluster-cups, which have orange discs and a paler yellow margin; these cups are called "aecia" ("aecium", singular).

The rust fungi, of which this fungus is one, have an extremely complex life-cycle. Some of them can produce up to five different kinds of spore; the different spore-producing structures are designated, in the scientific literature, 0 (zero), I, II, III, and IV. Species that produce all five kinds of spore are said to be macrocyclic; those that do not are called microcyclic or demicyclic, the name depending on the missing stage(s) of the lifecycle. Puccinia urticata is a macrocyclic rust; two of its five stages are hosted on nettle, while the other three are hosted on a species of sedge.

As "British Plant Galls" (Redfern, Shirley & Bloxham; 2002) states, "it seems likely that, amongst all living things, the rust fungi have the most complex life cycles and nuclear arrangements".

The cluster-cups shown here produce asexually-formed "aeciospores" (stage I of the life-cycle); inspection through a hand-lens will often show that some of these discs have a yellow powdery mass adhering to them, made up of spores that have emerged from the discs.

This specimen was on a plant growing beside the path shown in NS3679 : Access to Asker Farm and covered reservoir.
by Lairich Rig

NS4074 : Rust fungus galls on Alexanders by Lairich Rig
The location is shown in NS4074 : Path beside Dumbarton Rock; see that picture for context.

The plant, which formed a patch there, is NS4074 : Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum); that item, as well as showing the plant as a whole, explains why the species, which is not otherwise common in the wider area, is found here beside Dumbarton Rock.

The yellow spots shown here are galls caused by the rust fungus Puccinia smyrnii (colloquially, Alexanders Rust). The picture shows the upper side of the leaf. On the underside of each of these yellow blisters were several tiny, vividly-yellow, cup-like aecia, very much like the ones shown in NS3679 : Gall on nettle, although a different rust fungus is involved there; that item also comments on the complex life-cycles of the rust fungi in general.
by Lairich Rig

Phylum Ascomycota

- Ascomycetes - the sac fungi, which produce their spores, usually in groups of 8, inside cells called asci on or in variously-shaped structures - cups, clubs, or in or on dead or live twigs, leaves etc. There are the 'cup fungi', with the asci produced on the upper surface of cup-like structures, and the 'flask' fungi with the asci produced inside small spherical structures [often described by some as 'knobs on sticks'. There is an enormous variety, and quite a few are economically important as causes of plant disease. This group also includes the yeasts - vitally important - no yeast, no alcohol!

Cup fungi:-

NH3799 : A cup fungus in Glen Einig by M J Richardson
Peziza badia. The purplish-brown cups [ca 20mm diam.] of this ascomycete were common along the estate track going up Glen Einig.
by M J Richardson

NT2570 : Cup fungus in the Hermitage of Braid by M J Richardson
Cup fungi are ascomycetes [a different group from the more familiar mushrooms and toadstools - basidiomycetes]. This one is Peziza repanda, growing on a dead and rotting log [normally it grows on rich soil or sawdust].
by M J Richardson

NN8518 : Hare's Ear cup fungus by M J Richardson
A nice growth of this cup fungus [Otidea onotica], growing on the path to the Pond of Drummond from the castle.
by M J Richardson

SD4774 : Scarlet Elf Cups at Leighton Moss by M J Richardson
A small part of a brilliant display of this striking spring cup fungus present on rotting branches on the ground in the RSPB Leighton Moss Reserve. A species of Sarcoscypha, probably S. austriaca, but being a nature reserve I did not collect material to confirm.
by M J Richardson

NS3878 : Orange Peel Fungus by Lairich Rig
(Aleuria aurantia)

This species is one of the so-called cup-fungi, though its cups gradually become more irregular and flattened as they develop. The initial form is well seen in these photos: NT2004 : Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia) and NJ2859 : Orange Peel Fungus, a Cup fungus.

All three photos also show a very typical habitat of this species: sandy or gravelly grassland, of the sort that might lie beside a path. That was the case with the example shown here, which was several centimetres across. This is a common species, occurring from early autumn to early winter. [Roger Phillips, "Mushrooms and other fungi of Great Britain and Europe"]

It is unlikely to be confused with any other species, except perhaps for NS3578 : Scarlet Elfcup (Sarcoscypha species), but the latter occurs on dead wood, not soil, and is not really very similar.
by Lairich Rig

HP6213 : Orange-peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia), between Haroldswick and Burrafirth by Mike Pennington
What I thought was soil on the fungus at first turned out to be a mass of hungry springtails.
by Mike Pennington

NS3878 : A fungus - Coprobia granulata by Lairich Rig
This species is one of the so-called cup-fungi (named for the shape of their discs). These were found only a metre or so north of a footpath that crosses the moor. This is a species that grows on dung, an unusual habitat that makes identification easier. The photograph shows the fungus growing in depressions on the flat surface of a cowpat.

Several Cheilymenia species are similar in that they also have orange discs and grow on dung, but their discs are fringed with tiny hairs which were not evident here; see NS3878 : Cheilymenia cup-fungus on dung. Compare also Eyelash Fungus (which grows on very rotten wood rather than dung): NS4276 : Common Eyelash Fungus (Scutellinia scutellata). It also resembles the much larger Orange Peel Fungus: NS3878 : Orange Peel Fungus, another cup-fungus.

[Many lichens bear similar spore-producing discs on their surface. This is no coincidence: the outer layer of a lichen is made of fungal cells; these fungi are of a similar kind to the cup-fungi, and produce discs in much the same manner.]

The species in this photo, Coprobia granulata, has a more or less flat disc, only a few millimetres across, with a raised edge. The outer margin of the disc is paler, and inspection through a hand-lens revealed it to be coarsely granular in appearance, as if coated with tiny sugar grains (this explains the specific name "granulata").

This is a widespread and very common species which can be seen all year round.
by Lairich Rig

NT3929 : Eyelash fungus by M J Richardson
So-called because the edge of the disc is surrounded by tiny brown hairs. In some species they can be over 1 mm long. The largest of these specimens [which are Scutellinia umbrarum] is 2 cm diam. They grow on wet wood and soil - these were on the margin of the mill pond at Hangingshaw NT3929 : Mill pond at Hangingshaw Burn.
by M J Richardson

NH6454 : Elfin Saddle fungus in the Paddock by Julian Paren
The fungi are unlike anything else we have in our grounds - and they are quite prolific this year. Mike Richardson (Pilobolus) has kindly identified the fungus as a Helvella (saddle fungus); and in more detail the sulcata form of Helvella lacunosa. Wikipedia calls this an Elfin Saddle Fungus.
by Julian Paren

TQ1248 : Helvella crispa by Stefan Czapski
When I first posted this image (under the title 'Ghostly fungus') my caption ran as follows:

'A strange, rather shapeless fungus, growing in a soggy hollow near a pond. I don't think I've seen this species before - but somehow I'm reminded of a pig's snout and ears'.

I thumbed all the way through the little Mitchell Beazley book that I normally use for fungus identification, but failed to find a satisfactory match. I now know why: David Pegler doesn't include this species among the hundreds he describes and illustrates. Could that mean I've found a modest rarity?

Anyway, my old friend ceridwen Link has come to the rescue: the identification she suggested was Helvella crispa - and comparing my own photos with those in online sources, I'm pretty sure she's right. LinkExternal link
by Stefan Czapski

NZ1265 : Yellow morel (Morchella esculenta) by Andrew Curtis
Spring fruiting, ascocarp mushroom much prized in French cookery, growing here in the deciduous woods on the north bank of the River Tyne. The morel is the state mushroom of the American state of Minnesota LinkExternal link
by Andrew Curtis
Shared Description

NH8907 : False Morel by Loch an Eilein by Julian Paren
Beside the track around the loch. According to Mushrooms by Roger Phillips, False Morel, Gyromitra esculenta, are deadly poisonous and have the habitat we found them "with conifers, especially pine, usually on sandy soil, spring. Occasional". " Deadly poisonous when eaten raw, and harmful to many when properly cooked." All this when the morels in general are highly prized and second only to truffles in their value.
by Julian Paren

NS3878 : Green Elfcup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens) by Lairich Rig
This species of fungus occurs on fallen branches (especially of oak); its mycelium (a system of fungal threads) pervades the wood and stains it a rather striking blue-green colour. According to "Mushrooms and other fungi of Great Britain and Europe" (Roger Phillips), "the stained wood is often seen but the fruit bodies are less frequent" (see Link and Link for other views of the stained wood).

[In this case, I had noticed the green-stained wood, without any fruiting bodies, a year earlier. By checking on it now and again (and keeping track of it as it was frequently though inadvertently moved a few feet at a time by passing walkers), and by exercising patience, I was finally able to take this picture.]

In this photograph, a few of the vividly-coloured fruiting bodies are visible; these measured up to about 5mm across. The branch on which they occurred was about three feet long, and was stained green along its full length.

The links cited above mention the use of the stained wood in a kind of marquetry known as Tunbridge Ware. However, it was put to a very similar use at an even earlier date; the book "Introductory Mycology" (Alexopoulos/Mims/Blackwell, 2002) mentions that "the use of the green-stained wood in elaborate intarsia (mosaics) has been traced back to early fifteenth-century Italy".
by Lairich Rig

NS3983 : Purple Jellydisc Fungus (Ascocoryne sarcoides) by Lairich Rig
This very common fungus is found from autumn to winter, and appears as purplish lobes (shown here) when it first emerges from the wood; it later becomes more saucer-like. The photo shows this species growing on the end of a log.
by Lairich Rig

NT6272 : Black Bulgar at Pressmennan by M J Richardson
An ascomycete fungus [Bulgaria inquinans] that grows most often on oak.
by M J Richardson

TL2171 : Ash dieback at Hinchingbrooke Country Park by M J Richardson
Caused by a fungus, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, an ascomycete with an asexual stage called Chalara fraxinea, hence the established common name of the disease, Chalara dieback, which is widespread in Europe and now spreading in the UK since 2012, Here in Hinchingborooke Country park it was evident but not yet badly affecting the extensive ash population, and maybe amongst abundant seedlings there will be resistant plants. LinkExternal link LinkExternal link
by M J Richardson

NT6072 : Tar spot on Sycamore by M J Richardson
No hard frosts yet, so plenty of leaves still on the trees. These are sycamore affected by the tar spot fungus [Rhytisma acerinum]. The fungus does no damage, but appears on the leaves in autumn, developing from an inoculum of spores produced by the fungus in the spring on the overwintered fallen leaves.
by M J Richardson

Flask fungi:-

NT6342 : Willow gloves at Gordon Moss by M J Richardson
An odd name for a very rare ascomycete fungus [Hypocreopsis lichenoides], with very few records worldwide. It grows on dead willow. The bit of twig with it on is actually tied to the other - it was found here a few weeks earlier and taken to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. When its identity was confirmed and its rarity realised it was returned to the original place where it was found. The black dots are another ascomycete, Diatrype bullata, and there is thought to be an association between the two fungi.
by M J Richardson

NT1512 : Choke disease of grass by M J Richardson
Detail of a fungus [Epichloe typhina] 'choking' grass - see NT1512 : Not just a few bits of grass... for its appearance in the wild. Each little dot in the fungus mass [stroma] is a body producing spores [perithecium]. This stroma was 15 mm long - they can be up to 50 mm long, and one of many seen on Bent-grass in Carrifran Glen.
by M J Richardson

NS4473 : A fungus - Peroneutypa scoparia by Lairich Rig
For further information, see NS4473 : A fungus - Peroneutypa scoparia, which was taken in the same place about three years later. In the present picture, the fungus presents a more typical appearance.

It was growing on a piece of wood at the side of a cycle path in a deep, shaded cutting, formerly the route of a railway line: NS4473 : Tunnel, Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Junction Railway.
by Lairich Rig

J3268 : Fungus, Minnowburn, Belfast (2010-2) by Albert Bridge
Beech Woodwart growing on dead wood in the Minnowburn Beeches. NS4276 : Beech Woodwart (Hypoxylon fragiforme) shows the same species at a different stage of its growth.
by Albert Bridge

SM9736 : Hazel woodwart (Hypoxylon fuscum) by ceridwen
The stroma (fruiting bodies) of this fungus are dome-shaped lumps a few millimeters across which can coalesce to form a raised crust. There are over 200 members of the genus, and are usually specific to the dead wood of particular trees.
Gwaun valley woodland.
by ceridwen

NT6919 : King Alfred's Cakes by Walter Baxter
The charcoal-like rounded fruit bodies of the fungus Daldinia concentrica, are often found on ash bark. Cramp Balls and Coal Fungus are other vernacular names for this fungus.
by Walter Baxter

NS2256 : Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) by Lairich Rig
This is a common species that grows mainly on the dead wood of broad-leaved trees. "The Oxford Book of Flowerless Plants" (1966, 1979, Nicholson/Brightman) includes the following in its description of this species: "The stems are forked at the tip, often more than once, and the flesh is white and very tough. Two kinds of spore are produced: at first, the tips of the branches become light grey with a powder of white spores (conidia); later they darken, and become covered with the raised openings of minute flask-shaped cavities within which black spores develop. Unbranched stems produce the black kind of spore only."

The photo was taken at a point close to McMaster's View: NS2256 : McMaster's View - above the gorge of the Kel Burn.

The same species is shown here: SN0239 : Candle snuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon).
by Lairich Rig

NS3977 : Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha) by Lairich Rig
These fungi were sprouting from a moss-covered piece of wood beside a NS3977 : Path through the woods.

This is a common species, found at or near soil level on the dead wood of broad-leaved trees. The fruiting bodies shown here have a roughened surface, and they were up to about 7cm tall.

For other contributors' pictures of this species, see SM9736 : Dead Men's Fingers in the woods and SE8353 : Dead Mans Fingers.
by Lairich Rig

NS3778 : A fungus - Onygena equina by Lairich Rig
The common name for this species, seen here as tiny mushrooms growing on a ram's horn, is "Horn Stalkball". This fungus isn't included in popular guides to mushroom identification; not only is it uncommon, but it also has a very unusual habitat: it is restricted to the remains of hooves and horns of certain animals. Sheep roam freely on the slopes where this horn was found; remains of horns are therefore not uncommon in the area.

The fungus grows on keratin, which makes up horns (it also makes up human hair and fingernails).
by Lairich Rig

NS4276 : Coral Spot Fungus (Nectria cinnabarina) by Lairich Rig
A particularly good example of this species, with large fruiting bodies, this specimen shows the so-called perithecial stage on the right-hand side; see also NS3878 : Coral Spot Fungus (Nectria cinnabarina). Their cinnabar-red colour gives the species its name.

The earlier pink conidial stage is shown here: NS3878 : Coral Spot Fungus (Nectria cinnabarina) (see that item for more information). Reference works do not mention the orange-yellow pustules, but they seem to be just an intermediate stage.

The fallen branch shown here was located near the edge of a narrow strip of woodland bounded by two fences.
by Lairich Rig

NT2570 : Burdock with Mildew by M J Richardson
Most plants along Blackford Glen by the Braid Burn had brown and badly shrivelled foliage. The underside of the leaves were peppered with black fungal fruit bodies of the fungus that causes Burdock Mildew [Golovinomyces [Erysiphe] depressus] NT2570 : Burdock mildew.
by M J Richardson

NT2570 : Burdock mildew by M J Richardson
Detail of the fruit bodies of the fungus that causes Burdock Mildew [Golovinomyces depressus] NT2570 : Burdock with Mildew; they are about 0.125 mm diameter and occur all over the underside of the brown and shrivelled leaves.
by M J Richardson

NT6272 : Earth tongues in Pressmennan Wood by M J Richardson
Geoglossum umbratile [a Plain Earth tongue, an Ascomycete fungus] growing in a patch of moss in the deciduous woodland at this Woodland Trust reserve.
by M J Richardson

NS3778 : Earthtongues by Lairich Rig
These were about 7cm high; they are just a couple of examples from half a dozen or so that were growing in a line beside a NS3778 : Footpath around Carman Reservoir. The wider upper part is pitted, and the lower part of the stem has a bristly appearance, with horizontal ridges.

They are of the genus Geoglossum, a name that is derived from Greek elements meaning "earth tongue", corresponding to their common name. For other examples, see NT6272 : Earth tongues in Pressmennan Wood.
by Lairich Rig

SM9539 : Cordyceps militaris near Goodwick by ceridwen
The only time I have found this extraordinary fungus, in a thicket very close to the rocky shore of Pwll Hir. It is parasitic on the bodies of insect larvae that are killed by the fungal attack.
by ceridwen

Other ascomycetes:-

SZ8596 : Pocket plums on blackthorn, Pagham Harbour by Patrick Roper
These fruit-like galls are caused by a fungus Taphrina pruni that infects the blackthorn fruit making it swell and remain on the tree for quite a long time. This blackthorn was growing near the entrance to the car park at Pagham Harbour nature reserve information centre.
by Patrick Roper

NS3977 : Alder tongue gall by Lairich Rig
This gall, which affects the cone-like female catkins of the common (or native) alder (Alnus glutinosa), is caused by a species of fungus, Taphrina alni. The galls start off greenish, but redden as they age. Taphrina amentorum is sometimes encountered as an older synonym for T. alni.

According to "British Plant Galls" (Redfern/Shirley/Bloxham), this gall was very rare in Britain in the 1940s, when it was known only from Cornwall. Even in recent years, it was not at all common; however, it now seems to be expanding its range rapidly.

The gall shown here is 25mm long, larger than the catkin (15mm high) on which it is growing. This is just one of two locations (both alongside the River Leven) in which, on the day this photo was taken, I happened to notice these galls; about 800 metres upstream, another common alder tree was more densely galled, with up to half a dozen "tongues" per catkin: NS3878 : Alder tongue gall. Over the next few weeks, I found that it was in evidence in several other locations along the course of the river; in fact, it now appears to be quite common in this area.
by Lairich Rig

NH6454 : Witches Broom on birch by Julian Paren
The growths of dense bunches of short shoots with small leaves common on birch trees are caused by the fungus, Taphrina betulina. It is commonly known as Witches' Broom because if all the extra shoots grow in the same direction it can take the shape of a traditional broomstick, which used to be made from a bundle of birch twigs, usually bound to an ash handle. More often, as in this case, the shoots grow as a cluster of growth, with no fixed direction, and it resembles a bird's nest.

I thank Andrew Curtis for this explanation.NT9421 : Witches' Broom on birch tree near Cat Loup.
by Julian Paren

TG3105 : Protomyces macrosporus fungus on ground elder by Evelyn Simak
This fungus causes galls on stem and/or leaves of various umbellifers including ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria) and cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) and can be seen from March to October. The gall causes as a chemically induced swelling, arising from the surface of the leaf lamina, where it forms bulges standing out on the upper surface veins, as well as on mid-rib and petiole.
by Evelyn Simak
Shared Description

SUBKINGDOM Zoopagomyceta Phylum Entomophthoromycota

NT2470 : Dead fly on the laundry by M J Richardson
Not quite as simple as it sounds. The fly is dead because it is infected with a fungus. It contacted a fungus spore; the spore stuck, germinated, entered the body and grew, feeding on the body contents of the fly. Just before the fly died its behaviour was changed by the infection, it sought a high place, and became stuck. The fungus then breaks out and produces spores at the weak points between the individual abdominal segments [which are much further apart than normal] - that's what the white bits are in the image; the spores are discharged explosively - hence the need for a high place - better for dispersal into the airstream - the life cycle continues. These fungi [Entomophthoraceae] are being actively investigated and used for pest control in agriculture and horticulture. I noticed this when getting the washing in.
by M J Richardson

LICHENS

NN5760 : Cladonia lichens (crotal) by Dr Richard Murray
All of the common soil-dwelling lichens of the Scottish uplands belong to the genus Cladonia: In the centre of the image are the delicate branches of Cladonia portentosa. The small stalked cup-like structures with red fruiting bodies belong to a different species of Cladonia.
by Dr Richard Murray

NS3678 : A lichen - Parmelia saxatilis by Lairich Rig
This is an extremely common lichen in Britain. It can be found on moderately acidic bark as well as on rocks and walls.

(Compare a similar species: NS3678 : A lichen - Parmelia sulcata. Another species, P. ernstiae ( Link ), is very similar to P. saxatilis, but is less common, and often has little lobules on its lobes.)

The example shown here was growing on one of the stones of a dry-stone wall.

On the upper surface, the outer layer (cortex) of the lobes is covered with a network of white lines; this network consists of pseudocyphellae (places where the cortex is thinner). Little stubby projections called isidia form on these lines; they are clearly visible through a lens, and, in this photograph, they give the centre of the lichen (which is densely covered with isidia) a rough appearance.

Isidia contain both fungal and algal cells (the two components of a lichen); they are designed to break off and propagate the lichen without the need for sexual reproduction. In some lichens, isidia are narrowed near the base so that they can break off more easily.

Parmelia saxatilis and P. sulcata are both assigned to zone 4 of the Hawksworth and Rose scale (see NS3778 : A lichen - Ramalina fastigiata), which means that they are fairly tolerant of sulphur dioxide pollution. However, they are much more vulnerable to other forms of air pollution: both of these species (as well as Hypogymnia physodes – NS3976 : A lichen - Hypogymnia physodes), "contain salazinic acid and seem to be especially sensitive to fluoride exposure" [Chapter 5 ("Fluorides") in "Pollution monitoring with lichens" by D.H.S.Richardson, 1992].

Historically, this species was used to produce a purple-brown dye. The lichen is sometimes said to have the common name Crottle, a name that is derived from the Gaelic "crotal"; however, both the Gaelic word and its English derivative can be broader in meaning. Under the headword "crotal", Dwelly's "Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary" gives the meaning: "general name for the varieties of lichen used for producing dyes of various shades of red and brown"; it also gives the more restricted meaning: "the lichen, stone- or heath-parmelia – Parmelia saxatilis and Parmelia omphalodes".
by Lairich Rig

NS3678 : A lichen - Cladonia diversa by Lairich Rig
The lichen shown here was growing on top of a dry-stone wall. Like other Cladonia species, it has a two-fold structure, consisting of (1) leafy scale-like structures at the base, and (2) erect structures called "podetia".

In this species, the podetia have cups on top, bearing red fruits (these are not just masses of spores, but they do produce spores; some species produce red fruits, some brown fruits, while others rarely produce fruit at all). In C. diversa, the fruits sometimes merge to form a mass that completely fills the cup, as shown in this photo.

This species (listed under "C. coccifera" in older books) is very common in a variety of habitats, including "acid soil, rotting trees, heathland, sand dunes and soil pockets on walls in upland regions" ["Lichens – An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species", Frank S. Dobson, 2005]. It appears yellow-green because of the presence of usnic acid (a substance which has occasionally been employed for its antiseptic properties).

At 6 on the Hawksworth and Rose scale (NS3778 : A lichen - Ramalina fastigiata), this species is moderately tolerant of atmospheric sulphur dioxide pollution.
by Lairich Rig

NS3678 : Lichens on a boulder in a disused quarry by Lairich Rig
Several species of lichen can be seen here growing upon the top of a large upright boulder in a disused sandstone quarry (the quarry is shown here: NS3678 : Carman Quarry).

The colourful orange-yellow lichen is the very common species Xanthoria parietina, which is a familiar sight on rocks and trees. Though brightly coloured here in its well-exposed location, it can be almost green when growing in more shaded locations, or when wet. It is common "on nutrient-rich trees, rocks, and walls, especially bird-perching sites" [F.S.Dobson, "Lichens - An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species"]. A close inspection shows the lobe margins to be free of the rock, a feature that distinguishes this lichen from some otherwise similar Caloplaca species, in which the lobe margins are firmly bonded to the rock.

Left of centre is a pale lichen with small red-brown discs. This is Lecanora campestris. Like the previous species, it is common in nutrient-enriched sites. Since the boulder on which it is growing is tall and post-like, with a clear view, and with open space all around it, it is quite likely that it is indeed used as a bird-perching site; this would make the top of the boulder rich in nitrogenous nutrients.

Appearing in the centre of photo, to the upper left, and to the lower right (where it is encircled by the yellow lichen), are some small patches of another species, Physcia adscendens. As can be seen through a hand-lens, the ends of its lobes are hood-shaped and are fringed with dark-tipped hair-like structures called cilia. For a closer look at a more extensive patch of this species growing on the same rock, see: NS3678 : A lichen - Physcia adscendens. This species is common on tree bark and on rock. (There is a very similar species called Physcia tenella, which has the same dark-tipped cilia, but whose lobe ends are curled back - NS4274 : A lichen - Physcia tenella; oddly, where fragments of the two species occur together, they can merge to form a vegetative or "mechanical" hybrid combining the characteristics of both species [George Baron, "Understanding Lichens"], and some even consider the two to be a single species.)

For other lichen species found in the same disused quarry, see: NS3679 : A lichen - Ochrolechia parella and NS3679 : A lichen - Rhizocarpon petraeum.
by Lairich Rig

NS3779 : The "Map Lichen" - Rhizocarpon geographicum by Lairich Rig
This lichen, a few centimetres across, was growing on the boulders of an ancient hill-fort. Like crazy paving, thin black lines divide its surface into smaller areas that are called 'areoles'; these black lines are part of the 'prothallus' (areas without algal cells). The larger black patches are the 'apothecia' (structures which produce spores).

This very distinctive patterning gives the lichen its common name: "because of the strong pattern of lines formed by the black prothallus running between the areoles and the black apothecia it is often known as the Map Lichen" [Frank S. Dobson, "Lichens - An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species"]

Rocks will often be found covered in "mosaics" made up of this species and others, with boundaries clearly visible between them. This specimen has a yellowish surface because it is growing on a site fully exposed to sunlight (see NS3779 : A lichen - Xanthoparmelia conspersa, growing at the same site). However, its colour varies according to the amount of exposure to light, another instance where the characteristics of a lichen can reveal details about its environment. This species is "yellowish green when exposed to strong mountain sunlight, but greenish where the light is weaker" [George Baron, "Understanding Lichens"]
by Lairich Rig

NS4276 : A lichen - Evernia prunastri by Lairich Rig
A common name for this species is "Oak Moss", although it is not a moss, nor is it confined to Oak trees. The specimen in this photograph was growing on the bark of a tree that stands beside a footpath leading to Overtoun House.

This is a fairly common species on trees, and it is quite tolerant of air pollution. Although it looks rather similar to Ramalina farinacea, the branches of Evernia prunastri have a paler underside, a feature that is visible in this photograph (see also NS3778 : A lichen - Ramalina farinacea). Another similar species is Pseudevernia furfuracea: NS3985 : A lichen - Pseudevernia furfuracea.

In some countries, E. prunastri and P. furfuracea are economically important species: "The perfume industry uses lichens in large quantities, chiefly oak moss Evernia prunastri (L.) Ach. and tree moss Pseudevernia furfuracea (L.) Zopf, thousands of tons of which are collected from trees in the forests of France, Yugoslavia, and Morocco" [Jack R. Laundon, in "Lichens" (Shire Natural History)].

Other diverse uses for this species, as listed by Frank S. Dobson in "Lichens - An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species", include: a flavouring for bread in the Middle East; wadding in shotguns; and a nest-building material that is favoured by long-tailed tits. The same work notes that "the usnic acid it contains can be used to produce an antibiotic but it has also been known to produce an allergy in woodcutters".
by Lairich Rig

NS3679 : A lichen - Rhizocarpon petraeum by Lairich Rig
In older books, this may be listed under the synonym Rhizocarpon concentricum, a name that well describes its appearance. The concentric pattern is formed by many black dots arranged in rings; these individual dots are the spore-producing discs (apothecia).

This lichen was growing on rocks in the northern half of a disused quarry: NS3678 : Carman Quarry. Compare another member of this genus which presents a very different appearance: NS3779 : The "Map Lichen" - Rhizocarpon geographicum.
by Lairich Rig

NL9841 : Lichens on a gravestone by M J Richardson
A heavy growth in the moist and windy atmosphere of Soroby burial ground.
by M J Richardson
Shared Description

NM9640 : Tree Lungwort in Barcaldine Forest by M J Richardson
Growing on ash, this epiphytic lichen [Lobaria pulmonaria] is an indicator of ancient woodland. It is a symbiosis of three kingdoms - an ascomycete fungus, a green alga and cyanobacteria.
by M J Richardson

MYXOMYCETES - slime moulds

NS3977 : A slime mould - Arcyria denudata by Lairich Rig
In the vicinity of a large man-made mound (NS3977 : Mound beside the River Leven), a damp log was host to five different species of slime mould (see Link for the others).

Arcyria denudata is the vivid reddish species shown at the centre and in the right-hand side of the photo. The spore-producing structures (sporangia) form the fluffy-looking structures shown in this photo; microscopically, they can be seen to consist of threads called "elaters" (elaters also occur in liverworts: NS3878 : A liverwort - Pellia epiphylla); these threads change their shape in response to changing humidity, and so serve to push out spores when conditions are suitable.

The small shiny black spheres in the left-hand side of the photo also belong to a slime mould, but to a quite different species: NS3977 : A slime mould - Metatrichia floriformis. Slime moulds cannot, in general, be identified by their naked-eye appearance alone, or (even worse) from photos alone; in many cases, microscopic examination is required (specimens of the two species shown here were examined at home).

[The photo was taken during the season when a large number of slime moulds can generally be found, but the weather of the preceding few months probably accounted for their particular abundance when this photo was taken. According to the textbooks, a good time to search for slime moulds is after a few dry days following a prolonged period of rain. The photo was taken after a few dry days following one of the wettest summers ever recorded for this area (on that topic, compare NS3977 : Cyanobacteria - Nostoc commune).]

For another Arcyria species, which forms considerably larger structures, see: NS3878 : A slime mould - Arcyria nutans.
by Lairich Rig

NS3977 : A slime mould - Tubifera ferruginosa by Lairich Rig
(Syn. Tubulifera arachnoidea)

This specimen was on a log beside a NS3977 : Path through the woods, and was over 5cm across. For more information, see NS3977 : A slime mould - Tubifera ferruginosa.

The bright colour does not last; after only a few days, the slime mould would be considerably darker: see NS3977 : A slime mould - Tubifera ferruginosa (a different and older specimen, photographed on the same occasion; note also a few small examples of older specimens at the bottom of the present photograph).
by Lairich Rig

NS3977 : A slime mould - Tubifera ferruginosa by Lairich Rig
(Syn. Tubulifera arachnoidea)

Beside a NS3977 : Path through the woods, these sporocarps (bodies consisting of the spore-producing stage of a slime mould) of the species Tubifera ferruginosa were on some well-mashed-up wood. The largest of them shown here is about 5cm across.

When newly-formed, the sporocarps are attractive and eye-catching in colour: NS3977 : A slime mould - Tubifera ferruginosa. However, the vivid orange colour is ephemeral; the ones in my photograph are, in terms of development, only a day or two older. Later, they are less dark, becoming a dull brown.
by Lairich Rig

NS3778 : A slime mould plasmodium by Lairich Rig
Shown here is an early stage, the so-called plasmodium (see Link for an explanation) of a slime mould; this later develops into a fruiting body, which is less slimy in appearance, and which produces spores.

(I had, for a long time, captioned this image Mucilago crustacea, but I now doubt that original ID; for what it is worth, the species Fuligo muscorum is a far better visual match. Learning more about a subject often leads to being less sure, and that is no bad thing. I therefore leave the slime mould in this photograph unidentified.)
by Lairich Rig

NS3878 : A slime mould - Mucilago crustacea by Lairich Rig
This specimen was about 4cm wide, and encrusted onto blades of grass; it was found beside the footpath that is shown on the map, and can be seen to be a convoluted mass of tubules (as is also well exemplified in TM0634 : Autumn slime mould species in grassland (2), another contributor's photograph of a specimen at a similar stage of development).

In the literature, this stage is sometimes described as consisting of "anastomosing tubules" (where "anastomosing" means that many new mouth-like cross-connections have formed between adjacent tubules); the picture shows the complex structure that results from this process.

The present photograph is the second of a series of three images showing different stages of the slime mould's development. See the other stages for more information.

Previous stage: Link
Next stage: Link
by Lairich Rig

NS3977 : A slime mould - Lycogala epidendrum (undeveloped) by Lairich Rig
The irregular patches with pale edges would originally have been plasmodia, the mobile feeding stage of the slime mould. Plasmodia often develop into rounded spore-producing bodies (aethalia); these ones did not (perhaps conditions were not favourable just then), but they have retained the vivid colour of the plasmodium. Slime moulds can also form sclerotia, entering a dormant state in which they wait out unfavourable conditions. It is not clear precisely what state the remains shown here represent; however, they did not develop further, and they will simply fade away over time.

However, the picture also shows that some of the plasmodia that were on this piece of wood did successfully develop into spore-bearing structures: a few young examples of these Lycogala aethalia can be seen near the top of the image, right of centre. Compare NS3977 : A slime mould - Lycogala epidendrum; in particular, note the colour of the droplet in that picture; it is the same as the remains in the present picture.

These remnants were found beside a NS3977 : Path through the woods. See NS3977 : A slime mould - Stemonitis species, taken on the same day, for an explanation of why slime moulds were abundant on this occasion.
by Lairich Rig

NS9746 : Leocarpus fragilis - a slime mould by M J Richardson
This small but spectacular slime mould is reportedly common throughout Britain, but in 50+ years of collecting I have never seen it before. Its habitat is leaf litter, especially amongst conifers, gorse and birch, and when ready to produce spores the yellow plasmodia ascend and cluster on trees and vegetation up to a metre above ground and produce spprangia. These were on bark of a pine, and each sporangium was about 3mm long hanging from a 2mm stalk. Slime moulds are not true fungi, and more closely related to animals, with the spores germinating to form amoebae.
by M J Richardson

NS3878 : A slime mould - a Stemonitis species by Lairich Rig
These examples were in Renton Wood, beside a NS3878 : Path through the woods.

The brightly-coloured parts on top of the thin black stalks are the sporangia (spore capsules). Because they are not yet mature, they are still partially transparent, and a dark continuation of the stalk can be seen within them; this is called the columella, and, when the sporangia are mature, it will be the central axis of a branching structure called the capillitium, on which the spores are supported.

The structures shown here developed from a plasmodium, a mass of protoplasm within a cell membrane, but not all of the mass of the plasmodium went into forming them: in each group, some membranous pinkish material can be seen at the base of the stalks; this is the hypothallus, consisting of leftover material from the plasmodium.

These immature sporangia developed quickly: only 90 minutes later, their colour had deepened from yellow to orange-red. Other groups at different stages of development were on the same piece of wood.

The time of year was right, and the recent weather had been favourable, for the development of some other common slime moulds: Fuligo septica and some Lycogala species could be seen in these woods at the same time.
by Lairich Rig

NS3983 : A slime mould - Badhamia utricularis by Lairich Rig
In passing, I noticed these structures on a branch about six feet from the ground, beside a NS3983 : Path to Whinny Hill Wood.

The spore capsules (sporangia) are grouped in clusters that hang from a common stalk, like bunches of grapes. This habit suggested the species Badhamia utricularis, and a closer look at the habitat confirmed that identification.

Badhamia utricularis is "common throughout the British Isles, especially in winter" [Bruce Ing's identification handbook]. It does not develop directly on wood, but rather on bracket fungi or resupinate fungi (fungi that grow as a flat crust); in this case, there was an inconspicuous toothed resupinate fungus encrusting the branch, and these slime mould clusters were hanging from its surface.

The fungus itself is not well seen in this image, but it is more clearly apparent in a photograph of the plasmodial stage of the same slime mould species: NS3983 : A slime mould - Badhamia utricularis (plasmodium). That plasmodium was located nearby, on the underside of the same branch; it is an earlier stage of the slime mould's life-cycle.

In the present photograph, the peridium (outer layer) of most of the mature spore capsules had dehisced (split open), but a few intact clusters can still be seen (for example, at the lower right).
by Lairich Rig

NS3983 : A slime mould - Badhamia utricularis (plasmodium) by Lairich Rig
The glutinous bright yellow patch is a couple of centimetres across, and it is located on the underside of a branch of a tree alongside a NS3983 : Path to Whinny Hill Wood.

This is the plasmodium (the slowly mobile feeding stage) of the slime mould species Badhamia utricularis. The slime mould has developed on a toothed resupinate (flat) fungus, which is most apparent at the upper left corner of the image. Some mature specimens of an earlier fruiting of the same slime mould species could be seen nearby: NS3983 : A slime mould - Badhamia utricularis.
by Lairich Rig

NS3977 : A slime mould - Trichia species by Lairich Rig
This was just one of at least five different slime mould species (see Link for the others) that were present, all at the same time, on a particularly productive log, not far from a large artificial mound (NS3977 : Mound beside the River Leven). For scale, the orange patch on the left is about 2cm across, from left to right.

These colonies developed from an earlier plasmodial phase; at that stage, the slime mould really is slime (it looked like wallpaper paste). The plasmodium moves over the wood rather like a giant amoeba, ingesting bacteria. It later "fruits", forming the spore-producing structures (sporocarps) shown here; the sporocarps are the individual small rounded structures visible in the photo. What is left over is the so-called hypothallus, visible here as a translucent substance.

[Such densely-packed colonies are quite characteristic of T. persimilis and the similar T. scabra. In any case, two separate fruitings are shown in this image. Both are of the same species, but the one on the right came from a different plasmodium, and is two or three days less developed than the colony on the left; this is what accounts for the difference in colour.]

The sporocarps mature from white, through yellow, to the orange colour shown here, darkening further to a brownish colour. Their outer layer (peridium) then disintegrates, exposing a fluffy mass of spirally-bound threads called elaters, which bear the spores: NS3681 : A slime mould - Trichia species. On the function of elaters, compare NS3977 : A slime mould - Arcyria denudata.

The species Trichia persimilis and the closely-related T. affinis are frequently attacked by a parasitic fungus called Polycephalomyces tomentosus [see "The Myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland" by Bruce Ing], causing spiky outgrowths.
by Lairich Rig

NS3976 : A slime mould - Enteridium lycoperdon by Lairich Rig
This fruiting body was growing on a standing dead tree, close to the cycle route.

This slime mould was about 7cm high, and was as glutinous as it looks; this is an early stage of the fruiting body. It later develops a smooth silvery surface, which then splits to expose a brown spore mass beneath. When the spores have been dispersed by wind and rain (around two weeks after the stage shown here), there is little left to see but inconspicuous delicate wisps, resembling soft foam padding. (Although they are not shown here, I was able to record all of these stages photographically.)

See also SX8088 : A slime mould - Enteridium lycoperdon, which shows a slightly later stage of the same species.

Enteridium lycoperdon is a fairly common species of slime mould, and is typically seen on standing dead trees in the spring, or on large pieces of fallen wood. Native alder is a common host; the slime mould emerges from beetle holes in the bark.
by Lairich Rig


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