Thursday, 26 November 2015
I noticed this peculiar fungus growing on an area of thinly-vegetated coastal shingle at Penrhyngwyn, Machynys SS516974 today (26/11/15) - any idea as to its identity please? The first photo below - click on it to enlarge - shows the fungus itself and the second is a view of the site/habitat, looking eastwards up the Burry Estuary; the small grey plants incidentally, are young yellow-horned poppies Glaucium flavum, a rather rare coastal shingle specialist. The site is easily accessed via the coastal path/cycletrack in the approximate mid section of the Millennium Coastal Park.
Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Geoglossum glutinosum Glutinous Earthtongue.
Nigel Stringer left a packet with this at my house. The fb stuck to the paper and microscopy showed long spores with 3 - 7 septa ---- mainly having 3 or 4 septa. Most Geoglossum species I find have 7 or more septa so this was a new one for me.
I had to look at his small lawn to get a picture. The shiny glutinous covering shows in the photo.
Before I spotted the Geoglossum I found these small waxcaps --- Hygrocybe mucronella Bitter Waxcap. The distinct bitter taste can usually be detected by placing the tip of the tongue on the cap (easier if the a fb is picked!).
Common name scarlet caterpillarclub.
Apologies for the poor picture and lack of digging it up (in my defense it was freezing up there!) but another interesting story behind this little reddish gem poking out of the grass.
You really should dig this one up to enjoy its underground treasure as at first glance you might think it's just a club fungus.
This species grows parasitically on buried insects, this one in particular on butterfly and moth pupae and larva. It's a great aid for identification when you dig to find what its growing on or in this case out of!
Monday, 23 November 2015
Emily's ergot with icy background prompted me to look at the local saltmarsh for Spartina anglica (Cord grass) which, at this time of year has huge ergots of Claviceps purpurea var. spartinae. These in turn are parasitized by another fungus, Giberella gordonii (formerly Fusarium heterosporum) the orange/pink mass at the base of the ergots. There are not many FRDBI records for this although I presume it would be found if looked for.
There is a splendid article in the Mycologist vol8 (1) p9, Feb 1994 by Tom Preece about this association of two fungi on Spartina. It seems both fungi contain toxins so if eaten a double dose of poison is ingested. With one record Malcolm Storey notes he found these ergots had a strong smell of alcohol!
Saturday, 21 November 2015
Common name Ergot.
Once I'd spotted one they were all over the place!
This interesting little black blob has both a fascinating life cycle and history. It can be found in the autumn in its sclerotial stage (like in the picture) on many different grasses. When mature they fall to the ground, overwintering until late spring when tiny pinkish or purplish drumstick shaped fruiting bodies emerge. These then infect the grass for the cycle to continue.
This small insignificant little fungi is deadly with recorded poisonings since the Middle Ages. It wasn't until this century that the connection between ergotism and eating infected grains was made. Poisoning has two delightful forms, convulsive and gangrenous. Its symptoms meant it was known as Holy fire. Outbreaks were thought to be divine punishment on sinners. Nowadays its purified derivatives are used in medicines for migraines among others.
Friday, 20 November 2015
Crucibulum laeve --- Common Bird's Nest.
These tiny bird's nest fungi were seen along a wood-chip covered path in Pembrey Country Park. The young fb's have a membranous yellow 'lid' which disintegrates at maturity revealing the 'eggs'. Each 'egg' (peridiole containing spores) has a fine thread attached. When a raindrop splashes out an 'egg' the thread gets attached to nearby grass so the spores are liberated from a higher level ---- cunning!
I wonder if the slug (centre of photo) has had eggs for breakfast? I have seen Cruibulum from time to time at Pembrey (FRDBI 1981), on woodchip or sawdust piles, but not for several years so nice to find again.