Guest Author: Nick Aplin
Sussex Fungi Group: 18th October 2014
(Contributing records to the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre)
Brown Cup (Rutstroemia firma)
It was a dull and overcast morning on our first visit to Brockley Wood, but several of us were optimistic that the recent wet weather would bring out some interesting species. Finding fungi can sometimes be a fruitless exercise and the start of the season had certainly been quite patchy in many respects.
Our route - Brockley Wood in the North West Zone
Initially, we spent some time searching the grassland north of the runway, where we found a few species associated with buried wood and other debris, namely Lacrymaria lacrymabunda The Weeping Widow, Gymnopilus junonius Spectacular Rustgill, Coprinus comatus Shaggy Inkcap and Pholiota gummosa Sticky Scalycap.
Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius)
(Coprinellus domesticus) Firerug Inkcap
A large pile of rotting wood and roots yielded several small and common species including Hypholoma fasciculare Sulphur Tuft, Coprinellus domesticus Firerug Inkcap and Mycena adscendens Frosty Bonnet.
The delicately beautiful Bark Bonnet (Mycena speirea)
I had hopes that we’d see a few of the species which are indicators of unimproved grassland as we began climbing the path to the south east of Brockley Wood. True to form, we were greeted with our first rarity; the lovely but understated Arrhenia griseopallida, a species which seems to favour short turf and fairly exposed locations.
Although it was perhaps a little too early for Waxcaps, we also found two Entoloma species which are also unimproved meadow specialists, E.sericeum and E.sericellum, the latter growing on a very steep slope and proving very difficult to photograph!
Extreme-fungi photographing: Entoloma sericellum
‘LBJ’ (=little brown job) is an acronym that was, I think, created by birders but a term that we often ‘borrow’ to describe certain cryptic, anonymous-looking brown mushrooms.
Many mycologists don’t like LBJ’s, but some (like me!) take great interest in them. Good job, too, as we stumbled upon several as we entered Brockley Wood. The first three were Cortinarius species, a genus of mushrooms which like to grow in a special symbiosis (called a mycorrhiza) with tree roots, the tree and the fungus effectively ‘swapping’ nutrients to benefit both parties.
The first, Cortinarius decipiens Sepia Webcap, grows on the outskirts of the Wood, mycorrhizal with Willows.
Sepia Webcap (Cortinarius decipiens)
The other two species seemed mycorrhizal with the same Oak tree. The rebellious Cortinarius vernus Spring Webcap clearly didn’t want to live up to its name. Interestingly, the majority of the UK records of this species are autumnal, so perhaps we should think up a new name? The Germans apparently call it ‘Pink Stalk’ so I might go with that, considering the colours at the bottom of the stem…Yes, Pinkstalk Webcap. Let’s go with that.
Pinkstalk Webcap (Cortinarius vernus)
The third species, Cortinarius psammocepalus, was a nice surprise and seems to be very rarely recorded, with only a dozen or so UK records. I can’t find a ‘common name’ for this one, so I’m tempted to go along with the beautifully descriptive Latin epithet and call it Sandhead Webcap. Oooh yes, that’s even nicer than my last made-up name.
Sandhead Webcap (Cortinarius psammocepalus)
Ash trees are apparently incapable of supporting any mycorrizal symbiosis with the larger fungi but to make up for it, they provide a very nice habitat for saprotrophic species after they die.
As there is plenty of dead Ash wood in Brockley Wood, it was no surprise that we recorded several species fruiting on it.
Coniophora puteana Wet Rot
Another obscure LBJ; Simocybe centunculus, and the crustose Coniophora puteana Wet Rot were put to shame by a beautifully coloured but tiny fungus Crepidotus cinnabarinus (strange that this one has no common name either!), first recorded in 1995, probably as an introduction. The increase of reports in recent years seems to suggest that the species is spreading.
The tiny, yet striking Crepidotus cinnabarinus
On our way back to the meeting point, we discovered several fruiting bodies of a Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve, fruiting on and around the base of various dead herb stems. A cheerful sight to end the day!
Bird’s Nest Fungus, (Crucibulum laeve)
Full species list:
Gymnopus fusip es
Simocybe centunculus var.centunculus