2. Phylum Ascomycota

FUNGI ON GEOGRAPH and some notes about fungi

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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

NH4259 : Black Morel (Morchella elata) by Greg Fitchett
Several specimens of this fungus were found in the grassy edge of a rough track in a clear-felled area of coniferous forestry between the A835 and Loch Na Croic. The NBN atlas has very few records for this species in Scotland. See LinkExternal link
by Greg Fitchett

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

NM4199 : Mitrula paludosa by Anne Burgess
There were lots of these yellow jelly-like bodies growing in waterlogged ground among dead and rotting vegetation. Thanks to Mike Richardson for identification. It is said to be called 'Bog Beacon' and it is easy to see why. See LinkExternal link
by Anne Burgess

NS3878 : Green Elfcup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens) by Lairich Rig
(I should qualify the title by adding that this is *probably*, but not certainly, C. aeruginascens: there is a very similar C. aeruginosa. See NT2340 : Green oak wood, which correctly notes the existence of two possibilities.)

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

NT2470 : Roadside Ash tree with dieback  by M J Richardson
Having never seen what I thought to be the typical symptoms around Edinburgh TL2171 : Ash dieback disease , I thought we had escaped it so far, but this spring I have been conscious of a lot of non-sprouting branches on Ash trees all around us. Apparently it has been with us since 2014/5. It will be interesting to see how the disease progresses in this tree. 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

NT1074 : Dead Moll's Fingers (Xylaria longipes) by Greg Fitchett
A very apt and gruesome name for this fungus which is generally more slender and smaller than the similar Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha). It was found growing on a mossy dead branch.
by Greg Fitchett

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


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