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Archive for February, 2014

There is a fungus I have never heard any good of. Kretzschmaria deusta, or Brittle Cinder, grows as flat, small to medium patches on trees. The young patches are grey with a white edge, and as they get older they blacken and look like something that you might find left over once a wood fire has finished. The crumbly nature of the old fruiting bodies leads to the common name, Brittle Cinder. It degrades both lignin and cellulose, the two strengthening substances in wood, causing soft rots.

Young Common Rough Woodlouse colony

Stump with old Kretzschmaria deusta

I have now found old fruiting bodies loosely attached to an old stump providing an overwintering nursery for the Common Rough Woodlouse, Porcellio scaber. I accidentally knocked a piece off and it was full of them. They are crustaceans, in the same group as crabs, but a lot smaller and a lot more useful in a woodland. They eat dead vegetation, so are a member of the recycling fraternity. It is the first time I’ve found a good use for this fungus.

For more information on Kretzschmaria deusta my notes are here.

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As this is a tricky thing to get right I sent it off to Kew to double check. Dr. Brian Spooner has has a look and agrees with the identification, but adds the variety – making it Dactylospora stygia var. stygia. It is now held in the Kew database with the number K(M) 190721. It is the 18th official time it has been found in the UK. I think this is not maybe because of it being so rare, as it is just so hard to see.

The Dactylospora stygia is the blackish pile of disc shaped growths and the isolated discs.

Link to notes on flickr.

Link to previous post on the species.

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With the storms still lining up to refresh the mud, the winds to batter the branches, and the generalised gloom to depress, I popped into Abney to look for something a bit more cheerful. And I found spring is underway. Daffodils are in bud ready to burst out should the sun manage to appear for a couple of days, but there are pockets where the crocus clusters are out, the trees are blossoming and the sweet violets are wafting their lovely scent. I would have been able to smell them if the air had not been going so fast.

Crocus

Crocus

Sweet Violet

Tree Blossom

All my February photos from this morning are here.

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