Elfcups are spring cup fungi that brighten our late winter woodland floor with their attractive fruiting bodies. They grow, often in troops, on rotten fallen twigs of broad-leaved trees. Previously thought to be one species, it has recently been discovered that there are two, only separated by details of the spores. Scarlet Elfcup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) appears to be commoner than Ruby Elfcup (Sarcoscypha coccinea).
Autumn is here. Trees are colouring and their leaves beginning to fall, the Fallow deer rut has begun in the Forest, and toadstools are appearing in good numbers. Fly Agarics are splendid if you can find them before the slugs reach them. After heavy rain the white warts on the cap can be washed off making the fungus look like a different species.
The Pink Waxcaps (or Ballerina Waxcaps) are up and fruiting this week and it is good to see strong caps appearing in our unimproved meadows after recent rains. This species usually indicates that the meadow is a good one for other waxcaps and fairy clubs too, so if you see this species it is worth checking for other fungi during the autumn months.
This common gelatinous fungus, often found on the dead branches of Elder, can be found at all times of the year. The top of each fungus is often smooth, but after recent frosts these have become folded and wrinkled. They are usually soft and rubbery in texture. but when very dry they can become hard and brittle. Long ago they were collected and used in the treatment of sore throats.
This large and impressive bracket fungus (up to 40cms wide) is usually found on live oak trees, although it can grow on other deciduous trees, generally appearing near the base of the trunk and always attacking the heartwood causing whiterot. The robust humpy fruiting brackets appear in early autumn when they weep an amber liquid from depressions on the upper surface.
We were surprised to see this Dog Stinkhorn fungus in New Parks recently. Over 60 ‘eggs’ were counted – they were smaller than those of the more commonly found Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus), and looked a little like the eggs of a Grass Snake. The slime at the top of the stem contains the spores which are dispersed by flies that are attracted to the fetid smell.
Holly Speckle is a very common Ascomycete fungus which infects the upper surface of brown dead holly leaves. The black speckles open up in winter to expose the spores. There are 2 closely related species, one that occurs on the underside of dead Ivy leaves, and the other on the underside of Cherry laurel leaves.
Jon Cartwright is sharing his photograph of one of the few spring fungi that can be found growing on bare soil and rotting twigs, often in groups under trees. They make a brilliant splash of colour in the springtime. There are 2 species which are difficult to tell apart without checking the spores using a microscope.
A group of Crimson Waxcap toadstools at this time of the year is a lovely sight. This species only appears on good quality unimproved grassland and if it is present there may be several other waxcap fungi, fairy clubs, earth tongues and Entolomas present too. They do not necessarily appear above ground every year, and conditions need to be just right for them to fruit.
This lovely fungus Calocera viscosa on an old conifer stump in Postensplain made us realise that autumn was coming to Wyre!