Annual fungi highlights

Hericium coralloides, Chessington Surrey. A species on the S41 list and protected under the NERC ACT

Fungi identification is difficult, I know, and I only move half - a - rung up the I.D. ladder each year. A tip for now is, don't be too-overly concerned with naming. Names are constantly changing with DNA analysis anyway. Follow your interests, slaving through the keys only works if you have a photographic - memory. The  fungi season is short, so there are only two/three months in which to hone your skills. Of course, wild foodies are existentially incentivised, and climb a different recognition ladder.

Personally, I learn best, when I have an understanding of  the context:- the habitat (age and quality); fungal tree partners and close relatives (e.g. russulas and milk caps); and what it is their presence might be indicating. Understanding where an old landscape exists, is like 'protecting the tiger', (M. Spencer) created landscapes are not biodiverse and won't be, even when your dead.

I am not so keen on the nitrophiles -  the poo and wee fungi - often found in marginal habitats, frequented by dog walkers (Paneolus mottled gills, Coprinus and Psatherella sp.). I am not counting Hebaloma's in that group, the Poison pie's that might be growing out of a vole or rodent latrine.

I am very interested in mycorrhizal fungi and their relationship with trees, they are declining in some areas (amanitas, russulas, milkcaps, boletes, and corts. or webcaps) . This may be a response to climate change in cases, as well as pollution but also our interference will play a part. It is my concern, that the mycorrhizal fungi that once appeared along the Pipe Track in New Malden, have been affected by the earth moving and continuous planting*.

I enjoy seeing a mycorrhizal fungi behaving like a saprotrope, such as this russula species below (Corts, & Lactarius) can also behave as saprotrophs to obtain mineral nutrients. A saprotrophic earthball can be parasitised by a bolete Pseudoboletus parasiticus growing into the fruiting body, which is rare and one of my reasons for living.

Saphrotrophic association of a russula rather than it's roots D. Humphries.

In addition, there are those that are indicative of good quality grassland such as wax caps. The initials of some indicator genera form the acronym  CHEG explained in this item on the fungi found in Kingston cemetery from a good year (2019). In fact, the acronym has grown to CHEGD, with the inclusion of grass Dermolomas also known as crazed caps. There are two species of Dermoloma both found in Greater London area and both in Richmond Park.

                                                   Blackening waxcap H. conica Richmond Park

snowy wax cap Richmond Park



Paxillus obscurisporus new to science 1999 sometimes mistaken for a funnel (but gills are brown) and other times mistaken for P. involutus. Often under limes, birches, willows and in Kingston cemetery. A lot bigger than other Pax. sp. and uncommon.

I am least knowledgeable about bracket fungi, especially ones that do the damage, have names that sound like a terminal disease and feast on cellulose and lignin. But if its rare, then I can be a fungi twitcher.This bear lentinus Lentinellus ursinus was found on Epsom Common 8.10.21 with the West Weald fungus recording group, and is a red data species. It bears an unforgettable name.

                                         Bear lentinus Epsom Common W. Weald fungi group October 21

Podoscypher multizonata a rare and weak parasite only on veteran oaks Haringay annual fungus foray LNHS 30.10.21
* Some species of fungi can take fifty to one hundred years to fruit and any disturbance by earthmoving, ploughing or trampling can destroy their delicate threads. See  Wax caps significance and grassland management for an excellent video on wax caps and eDNA. Hydgrocybe punicea features see below.
                                                                 Hydgrocybe punnicea found in a churchyard in Shirley Croydon

 One of the largest of the waxcaps, Hygrocybe punicea is an infrequent find on cropped grassland and regularly mown churchyards. It occurs in late summer and autumn. This lovely mushroom often occurs in small clusters, and when young it is sometimes covered with a whitish bloom.
For info:
Rotters = saprotrophs
Killers = necrotrophs
Biotrophs = feed on living tissue such as crusts and smuts (includes mycorhizal fungi). Micorhizal fungi get sugars from a tree in exchange for liquids etc. Some biotrophs (corts, lact, and russula's) also have decomposer ability.
Endophytes are within a plant/tree roots.
White rot breaks down lignin
Brown rot (less common) breaks down cellulose (see Fenton chemistry mechanism).
Soft rot
Stain fungi -simple compounds


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