Archive for September, 2013

Fungi here in numbers.

After the hundreds of Psathyrella pseudogracilis on the wood chips, there are now hundreds of tiny caps of Coprinellus disseminatus, common name ‘trooping crumble cap’, growing over a log. I haven’t tried to count them….

A close up of a small section of new growth (white) from a few days ago, shows them off better……

And then there are clumps of Psathyrella multipedata, ‘Clustered Brittlestem’. happily clustering in a huge mound. It is a bit early to find these so it could mean a good year for fungi. All these caps will be joined at the base in a tufted group.

All this may be aided by the damp conditions. Not just the periodic bouts of rain, but the moisture that is about on a continuing basis, producing occasional mistiness that emphasises that autumn is well and truly here.



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Jay eating wasps?

This chap was sitting, taking great note of his surroundings for a few minutes, until he suddenly darted off and grabbed what I could have sworn was a wasp.

Then he did it again. I wasn’t that close to him (or her) but from the flight pattern I think a wasp was likely, and there are a lot about at the moment in that area (not far from the Church Street entrance where there are 5 wasp nests that I know of, maybe more). So there is a use for wasps after all…. jay food.

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Along one particular pathway are a multitude of small caps, and they all look a little bit different and they all end up in the key as being the same, Psathyrella pseudogracilis. The colour is variable, they begin red/brown, and become yellowish (sometimes) or a watery grey, and that’s just when they are fully hydrated. When they dry out they are opaque yellowish cream or pinkish cream, depending on if they started yellowish or red/brown. If they dried from grey they turn chalky white. They can grow singly or in tight clusters so they fuse at the base.

Psathyrella pseudogracilis on buried wood, dry

Psathyrella pseudogracilis, traditional hydrated grey with radial lines,


Young red/brown Psathyrella pseudogracilis, one drying in the centre so becoming paler.

Clusters of Psathyrella pseudogracilis, dry on the left, less dry on the right.

So why are they all the same species? They all grow on wet wood or wood chips. They all have gills that start out palid with a light edge, then develop a white edge underlined with red. They all have the same varieties of cheilocystidia (the large white edge cells along the gills) and pleurocystidia (slightly larger but essentially similar cells on the gill surface. They smell the same, a bit musty. The spores are all black and the same oval shape with a little off-center tail and central germ pore, and all are in the right size range for the species, 11 to 16 microns long and 6 to 7.5 microns wide. This is a group where a microscope is really essential.

Squash slide of gill edge of Psathyrella pseudogracilis, with the cheilocystidia slightly loosened to show a couple of whole cells.

The white edge with red below of the gills of Psathyrella pseudogracilis under a microscope.

Although they are fading a bit now it is still worth a look at path edges for them, as when they do grow they make up for their small size in the hundreds that can grow at one time.

Link to my notes is here.

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Lecanora species

Xanthoria parietina, golden shield lichen

On Tuesday last an afternoon course about Lichens was run at Abney. That one sentence sounds so simple, but the afternoon was spent peering deeply into the world of tiny growths with their sometimes vivid colours. We wrestled with strange concepts that use specific terms like ‘jam tart’ (cup shaped spore producing structure or apothecia, with a different colour on the inside to the rim), ‘wine gums’ (the same colour at the base of the apothecia as the rim), and soredia (bundle of hyphae with some algal cells included – for asexual reproduction).

Chewing Gum Lichen Lecanora muralis, 3.9.2013

Lichens are fungi that have evolved to make use of algae call to produce their energy. The algal cells get protection from the sometimes harsh environment by the surrounding fungus. The union was formed so long ago that the original species are no longer alive and living on their own. Now they colonise some amazing places like pavement – the chewing gum lichen. If there is an irregular light edged patch on pavement it could be this grey lichen. It could be worth a second look.

The course was run by OPAL who are available to run courses across the country, and have a variety of surveys they would like volunteers to carry out for them.

Link to photos of Lichens


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