Saturday, 7 March 2015

Funky Fungi

I thought it was about time some fungi got a mention on my blog. I often see fungi when I am out and about and for a long time I didn't really give fungi the attention its deserves. But its like anything in nature - once you scratch the surface you want to know more! Fungi is often found in woodlands in abundance, but fungi doesn't just grow on trees and wood - it can be found in other habitats as well for example open grassland. And the other amazing fact about fungi is that there is an awful lot more going on than what we can see! We see on the surface is only a small part of the wonderful world of fungi that lies beneath the surface. But more about this is some fungi I have found on trees to start.

Horse hoof fungus - Finglandrigg wood
Horse hoof fungus is quite a common fungus particularly on birch trees and even standing dead birch trees. It really does look like a horses hoof, so quite an easy one to remember. King Alfred's Cake is quite a common fungus found on trees and can actually be used as tinder for lighting fires.

King Alfred's Cake - Local Neighbourhood
Other fungi that can be found on trees are the polypores and bracket type fungus. There are many different species but if you remember the polypore bit and bracket then it's a start!

Birch Polypore - Near Lords Seat, Cumbria
Blushing Bracket Fungus - Dubbs Moss Nature Reserve
Now for some fungus I have found on woodland floors. The elf cup is a cute little round fungus that can be found at this time of year. It is easy to find in a woodland due to the bright red colour. Also an easy to find fungus and quite well known is the fly agaric.

Elf Cup Fungus - Dubbs Moss Nature Reserve
Fly Agaric - Loch Morlich, Scotland
Amongst the red fungi I have found is the scarlet wax cap. This is quite a small fungus and on the underside the deep gills can be clearly seen.

Scarlet Wax Cap - Eycott Hill Nature Reserve
In the autumn of last year I found a very interesting puffball at RSPB Campfield Marsh. I thought maybe it was a giant puffball but I put a photo on iSpot to check the observation and someone who knows a lot more about fungi than me suggested this is a Mosaic Puffball. Puffballs are great to find and they come in all different shapes and sizes! Also below are what are probably the common puffballl.

Mosaic Puffball - RSPB Campfield Marsh
Mosaic Puffball Fungus - RSPB Campfield Marsh

Common Puffball - Local Neighbourhood
Other interesting fungi finds are what I think might be the slippery jack, which does look pretty slippery or is that just rain! The slippery jack normally has a floppy ring that covers the spores at the top of the stem. This can't be seen in this photo and I can't remember if it was there- so next time I find one I will have a closer look. The wood blewit is another common species and can often be found in groups in broadleaved woodland. The shaggy ink cap is the other common fungi that I find quite a lot of in small groups. It really does go quite inky after a while.

Slippery Jack
Wood Blewit - Local Neighbourhood

Shaggy Inkcap - Local Neighbourhood
Below are some groups of little fungi which I found on dead wood. I don't have an identification for either of these groups of fungi but they were both quite close together and I enjoyed spending time photographing them.

Now for some orange fungi! I think the first pic below is of some orange peel fungus and then velvet shank, which is a first for me. I found this recently on some dead wood and loved the bright colours of it.
Orange Peel Fungus - Local Neighbourhood

Velvet Shank - Local Neighbourhood
Velvet Shank -Local Neighbourhood
Then finally a purple fungus! This was quite a bit clump of jelly ear fungus which I found recently and again is quite common.
Jelly Ear Fungus - Local Neighbourhood
Jew's Ear Fungus - Local Neighbourhood
So that is just a small collection of fungi that I have found and made me realise that there is a huge variety of fungal species to be found. It is a great subject to start identifying as you have time to photograph and study fungus so that you can then identify it. And this is just a start, there is a whole world of fungus out there and not only is there the fungus we can see but also there is a massive network of mycorrhizal fungus that is underground. But that is another story!.......

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