Sunday, 8 November 2015

Pink Wax Cap up the Welcombe HIlls

This morning I went out to the steep grassy slopes of the Welcombe Hills side facing the monument field. They are full of beautiful Wax Caps of all colours, the occasional clump of Silky entolomas, White Spindles, Golden Spindles (see pic below) and the trusty Field Blewits (see earlier post).

About 5 years ago I came across the Pink Waxcap and each year since have roamed the hills looking for another appearance. It is the only Wax Cap of that colour and was once quite rare, mainly due to habitat loss. It is still uncommon and we are lucky to have it appear. Unlike many of the other Wax Caps, the Pink Wax Cap (Hygrocybe calyptraeformis) is solitary and that may account in part for its elusiveness.

Well, this morning I came across another and a beautiful specimen it was too. Despite spending the best part of an hour on those slopes it was the only one I found and having wandered away from it, couldn't find it again. That pretty much sums up why I enjoy looking for fungi.

Here's a link to find out more about this fungus
Right, the Parrot Wax Cap. Slimy yellow cap, turning slightly green over time.

Below, Golden Spindles.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

I saw more yellow fungi in the grass

I posted earlier about the White Spindles growing in clumps. if you'd like to find out more about these then Michael Kuo is my favoured expert.  He's described them as 'little clumps of wiggling white worms'. 

Ask someone to describe what they think of when you mention fungi and the chances are they will come up with something with a cap and stem. Fungi are incredibly varied though and for me that is why they are endlessly fascinating. Spindles, clubs and coral fungi often get lumped together but as Michael Kuo points out there are many different species but share common visual features.

 Left is probably Clavulinopsis laeticolor  and 'is, as a translation of its Latin name suggests, joyfully colored; it is typically orange or orangish yellow'
Kuo, M. (2003, December). Clavulinopsis laeticolor. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

Below could be Clavulinopsis corniculata because of the branching stems. But it's difficult to be sure and this group looks a little small. Reading up on these, microscopic scrutiny is often needed to verify them as well as the application of iron salts to see the colour change. 

I saw Field Blewits up the Welcombe and in Rowley Fields

Lepista saeva, the Field Blewit, is also known as the Blue-leg because of the faint purple-blue colouring to its stem (or stipe as its called in mycological circles). The 'blue leg' is only seen if you pick the fungus because its domed cap tends to be the only part visible in the grass. Unlike the waxcaps, the Field Blewit's cap is a drab dirty brown but stands out in Rowley Fields and large areas of the Welcombe Hills due to its size and abundance. 

I have a theory that modern foods have changed our perception of edibility. Presentation of food is more important than taste and we have grown used to bland foods enhanced by sugar, salt and other additives. Thus the humble Field Blewit's plainness hides a secret. It is an excellent mushroom for the pot or pan! Not only that but it is able to withstand frost and cold making it available to the forager right into the new year long after other field fungi have disappeared into a mush.

The only downside is that it has a great ability to absorb water. Pick one after a wet spell and squeeze like you would a sponge to see what I mean. All that means is you have to either pick after a dry spell or dry it out a little before you cook. If going into the pot to enhance a stew then no problem.

Note the bulbous base to the stem and the white, crowded gills. If you smell one it is highly perfumed. The taste is strong but pleasant.
If you take a spore print the deposit will be pink.

In the picture below you can make out the way these Blewits are in a large fairy ring. I'll post something about how these form when I have time.

All sorts of fungi up the Welcombe

Ideal conditions for fungi up the Welcombe Hills. Loads of Waxcaps on the sunny slopes -

"It looked as though some child had taken his box of toys and, in a shocking tantrum, had thrown them down the hillside. The incredibly bright colours of the Waxcaps are the most striking in the fungal world…"
John Wright, River Cottage Handbook No 1 - Mushrooms

Two of my favourites are the Meadow Waxcap (left) and the Parrot Waxcap (below).

The Parrot Waxcap has a distinctive greeny-yellow colouring. The Meadow Waxcap is edible.

Below is the Scarlet Waxcap. It may be the most bright;y coloured fungus you'll ever see. Turn one over and examine the gills to find a bright yellow.

Monday, 2 November 2015

I saw White Spindles on Clopton Fields.

As autumn lingers on and the frosts stay away there are still plenty of fungi to see up the Welcombe Hills. Just keep your eyes to the ground and amongst the red, orange, green and white wax caps you'll very like see clumps of these White Spindles (Clavaria vermicularis). These and the yellow variety are grassland fungi and belong to a group that includes ones called coral fungi that have branched ends. These you will find in wooded areas amongst the dead leaves.