Spring Mushrooms

Note: Please do not eat any mushrooms that you collect from the wild as a result of anything that you read on this page. You should not eat wild-collected fungi unless they are identified for you by an expert.

Spring isn’t the time when most people would think of searching for mushrooms but there are one or two species to be found.

Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

A real prize for foragers is to find morels. These are amongst the most delicious of all mushrooms but they are not at all common in Great Britain. They are ascomycetes, so they do not have quite the same structure as many of the more familiar mushrooms. They are said, by some, to prefer to grow alongside woodland rides and on woodland edges, on the drip-line of trees. These two were amongst a small group growing on the grassy edge of a wide path through woodland.

St George’s Mushroom (Calocybe gambosa)

Another one to watch for at this time of year is St George’s mushroom, which grows from about the time of St George’s day onwards, until around June. These resemble the edible mushrooms that you can buy in the supermarket (Agaricus bisporus) and the common field mushroom (Agaricus arvensis) but they belong to a different genus, Calocybe. An obvious difference is that they have white gills. Also, they have a distinctive mealy smell, similar to the smell of damp flour. They are popular for eating in some European countries.

St George’s Mushroom (Calocybe gambosa)

The ones that I found were on a reclaimed colliery site, growing beneath trees. The main part of fungi that grow on the ground is an underground network of very thin threads called the mycelium. Many fungi are mycorrhizal, which means that the mycelium has a relationship with the roots of a particular plant. You will find the fungus growing near only those trees or plants with which it can form this relationship. The St George’s mushroms that I found were growing in a ring and this indicates that this fungus is proabably not mycorrhizal. Instead, it is probably saprobic, which means that it feeds on dead organic material in the soil. The mycelium gradually spreads outwards, over the years, as it feeds.

St George’s Mushroom (Calocybe gambosa)

Earth Tongues and Other Interesting Fungi

One of the things that I have learnt in recent months is that a great place to look for interesting fungi in late autumn is amongst the moss in patches of grass which have not been pampered for many years.

Meadow Coral (Clavulinopsis corniculata)

Neglected lawns, the outfields of cricket grounds and the mossy grass amongst the graves in churchyards provide a great habitat for some interesting species. meadow coral is a common species but you have to look closely to find it.

Clavulinopsis species

You should also see the yellow tongues of other Clavulinopsis species. A microscope is needed to identify these positively at the species level.

Common Powdercap (Cystoderma amianthinum)

An interesting capped mushroom is the common powdercap. This species can be very small but it is attractive. It is also host to a rare mushroom called the powdercap strangler. You would be very lucky to find this but you should google it to learn more about it.

Geoglossum fallax

Earth tongues are always of interest to enthusiasts and they can turn up anywhere where there is mossy grass. The commonest is Geoglossum cookeanum, which I found by a main road in the centre of Ackworth, and the one which is next is G fallax, which I found in a north Leeds churchyard.

Geoglossum cookeanum

These two earth tongues have been positively identified by looking at their spores under a microscope.

Caterpillar Club Fungus Cordyceps militaris)

An exciting find for me recently was caterpillar club fungus, which I spotted in another churchyard in north Leeds. This fungus infects the larva of a moth, beetle or other insect which has pupated underground. The yellow arrow indicates the remains of the pupa. This fungus is cultivated in the far east, where it is used in traditional medicines.

Wrinkled Fieldcap

I was walking by the River Calder, near the Hepworth Gallery, when I spotted a mass of fungi on a pile of woodchips.

Wrinkled Fieldcap (Agrocybe rivulosa)

I did my best to identify them using books but again needed the help of the British Mycological Society and I found that they are Agrocybe rivulosa.

Wrinkled Fieldcap (Agrocybe rivulosa)

This species arrived in the UK just over a decade ago and has probably been encouraged to spread by the increasing use of bark and woodchip mulches. It is now common and widespread in Britain.

Wrinkled Fieldcap (Agrocybe rivulosa)

A common name used for this species is wrinkled fieldcap.

Bleach Cup

Continuing my mission to improve my knowledge of fungi, I have been searching for spring fungi. I had a look in an old orchard, which some books say are potential sites for morels, and I found this large brown fungus growing beneath the trees.

Bleach Cup (Disciotis venosa)

It’s colour made it quite well camouflaged against dried-up leaves.

Bleach Cup (Disciotis venosa)

I believe that this is bleach cup, which gets its name from the smell of chlorine that is produced when it is rubbed or broken. This fungus is one of the Ascomycetes and it is quite closely related to the morels but there are conflicting opinions about whether it is edible.

Clustered Bonnet

I’m chipping away at the fungi as I try to develop some identification skills to take me beyond the easily identified common and conspicuously marked species.

Mycena inclinata

Mycena inclinata

During a walk at Howell wood, South Kirkby today, I spotted a clump of fungi on a decaying tree-stump. One of the problems with fungi is that they change form and colour as they age and these were well into middle age.

Mycena inclinata

Mycena inclinata

As is so often the case, I struggled to narrow the name down to the nearest genus, even though I was using four different guides. However, my new best friend, the British Mycological Society Facebook group, came to the rescue and it took just a few minutes to identify the fungi as clustered bonnet (Mycena inclinata). This is a very common species and three of my field guides carry a picture of it. The problem is that the pictures all look so different from each other.

Silverleaf Fungus

At Ackworth School, the pupils in the junior school enjoy their “Forest Schools” sessions in a small area of woodland within the school grounds. The gardeners have created a ring of seats for them by embedding sections of log into the ground.

Infected log

Infected log

This morning, I noticed a colourful a colourful fungus growing on some of the logs.  Trawling through my expensive books on fungi did not produce an identification but a post on Facebook drew a suggested ID within minutes.

Silverleaf Fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum)

Silverleaf Fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum)

The suggestion, which looks good, is that the fungus is silverleaf fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum). I’ve heard the name before because of the disease – silver leaf – that it causes on cherry trees. One or two ornamental cherry trees growing in the school grounds have died recently, so it is possible that the logs are from those trees.

Silverleaf fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum)

Silverleaf fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum)

 

Honey Fungus

Members of the Ackworth School Natural History Society carried out a fungal foray in the school grounds this evening.

Honey Fungus

Honey Fungus

They found a number of species but one large clump stood out from the others. We often get clumps of fairly stocky toadstools on tree-stumps in the school grounds but these usually have numerous flecks on their caps and I think that they are of the genus Pholiota. The toadstools found today had smooth off-yellow caps and they had a distinctive yellow ring around each stem. I believe that these are the dreaded honey fungus (Armillaria mellea), a species that can kill shrubs and trees.

Newmillerdam Fungi

Please note that all names given to fungi in this post are merely suggestions!

I took a walk in the woods at Newmillerdam yesterday and made further efforts to identify a few fungi. My first sighting was of an attractive white fungus growing on the end of a log.

Ossicaulis lignatilis

Ossicaulis lignatilis

I’ve struggled to get an ID for this one and I’ve narrowed it down to Ossicaulis lignatilis or Panellus mitis. Panellus seems to prefer twigs, so I’m going with Ossicaulis for the moment.

The next fungus that I saw was the artist’s bracket (Ganoderma applanatum).

Artist's Bracket

Artist’s Bracket

The name doesn’t have an obvious meaning until you find that scraping the white pores on the underside of the bracket leaves a brown mark. In other words, you can draw a picture and this will remain for a long time. These fungi drop a lot of rust-coloured spores.

There were many yellow-capped fungi with white gills and stems.

russula-600-x-400

I believe that these were probably the common yellow russula (Russula ochroleuca).

I also spotted a fungus which had a red cap and stem but distinctive yellow gills.

Plums and Custard

Plums and Custard

I have decided that this is plums and custard (Tricholomopsis rutilans).

Towards the end of the walk, I found clumps of a fungus which had a fairly distinctive appearance.

Redleg Toughshank

Redleg Toughshank

My best estimate for this one is that it is redleg toughshank (Collybia erythropus). The only thing which makes me doubt this identification is the obvious funnel shape to the caps.

I saw many other fungi, some of which seemed to be quite distinctive at the time, but it is going to take a while for me to beging to work out what they might be. I spotted two boletus, one with yellow pores which didn’t bruise and one with yellow pores which bruised blue, but I can’t be confident about names for them. The one which didn’t bruise had a particularly dark cap.

Boletus

Boletus

 

Howell Wood Fungi

Encouraged by this week’s talk from David Winnard on “Edible and Poisonous Plants and Fungi or the North-West,” I spent an hour in Howell Wood searching for fungi. Rain in the past few days has increased the chance of finding something interesting.

Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

Alongside one of the rides, I found quite a few stinkhorn, in all stages of development. The smell from these was pretty obvious, without getting too close.

Candlesnuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

Candlesnuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

Most of my identifications of fungi are suggestions only! I believe that these little fungi, growing from a saw-cut in a rotting log are Candlesnuff fungi. They were only a centimetre or two tall.

Earthball (Scleroderma)

Earthball (Scleroderma)

Earthballs growing by the path looked good. I don’t know enough to say which species this Scleroderma was.

Birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)

Birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)

On fallen birch, I found this birch polypore. There were many other bracket fungi, large and small. There were also many other fungi growing amongst the moss and leaf litter and I now need to narrow down the identities of these.

Unidentified fungi

Unidentified fungi