We are well into the winter but there are still some interesting fungi to be found.
Common candlesnuff is easy to spot on decaying treestumps and smaller pieces of dead wood. However, if you want more of a challenge, you can watch out for beechmast candlesnuff, which grows only on the seed cases of beech trees.
To find beechmast candlesnuff, you may have to turn over the fallen leaves to get to the beechmast that is in the correct, damp condition for the fungus.
Another common winter fungus is velvet shank.
This fungus has a slimy cap and is often seen sprouting from logs.
A much less common fungus that appears about now is scarlet elfcup.
To find scarlet elfcup, look for mossy logs or smaller pieces of decaying wood on mossy ground.
If you are lucky enough to find a red, cup-shaped fungus, you can’t be certain about the id without using a microscope because scarlet elfcup is almost identical to ruby elfcup. One feature used to tell the two apart is the microscopic hair on the underside of the cup. For scarlet elfcup this hair is twisted and tangled but it is straighter for ruby elfcup.
This microscope image shows the hairs on one of the specimens in one of the images above.