September 27th - Fungus Foray, Dixon Park.


Seventeen members met at Dixon Park, with Dr Alistair McCracken as leader. Again this year, we were at the end of a prolonged dry spell, which did not bode well for finding mushrooms.

The outing began with a discussion of plant pathogens, stimulated by noticing a very brown Lawson Cypress. Phytophthora lateralis is the culprit in this case, but around a dozen new pathogens have been recognised in the Province in the past decade. Phytophthora ramorum is attacking Larch, as well as Rhododendron, and has led to extensive clearances in for example Rowallane and Belvoir in order to try to limit its spread. Ash Dieback, caused by Chalara fraxinea (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) seems still to be confined to young, newly planted trees in the Province.








A long-dead trunk provided a good show of another much feared fungus, Armillaria mellia or Honey Fungus (left). The fruiting bodies were grouped around the base of the tree.

We also saw the 'bootlaces' (rhizomorphs) by which it spreads (extreme left).




Among the grass were a few Mycena, and also Small inkcaps, both difficult to identify as to exact species.


Moving into the woodland, fallen logs provided a number of bracket fungi. First was the Birch polypore, Piptoporus betulinus. The cut surface was apparently used in the past as a razor strop, to give the finest edge to razors. It is also credited with medicinal properties and was carried by "Ötzi the Iceman", the 5000 year old mummy found in 1991 in the Ötztal mountains.






The second bracket seen was Ganoderma applanata, which is known as "Artists' conk". It has a clear white surface when young, which turns brown when scratched or rubbed, and has been used as an artists' medium.

Then "King Alfred's Cake", Daldinia concentrica, and the Horse Hoof Fungus, Fomes fomentarius (Ötzi had some of this too).






There was fun with small puffballs, Lycoperdon pyriforme, and while Alistair informed that the name translates to the common name 'Wolf dung', Brian McElherron recalled that in his youth they were named 'Horse Farts'.







Earlier we had seen Sycamore blackspot, Rhytisma acerinum, which is a good indicator of reasonably clean air. It is relatively sensitive to high levels of sulphur dioxide.

We also saw the telia and uredinial stages of Phragmidium violaceum which causes rust of bramble. Rusts are obligate, host specific pathogens, often with complex life cycles with up to five different sporing stages often completed on two different hosts. Phragmidium violaceum does not have an alternate host







Fairies' bonnets, Coprinella disseminatus, are here being photographed and their identity checked.

Finally, another plant pathogen, Coral spot, Nectria cinnabarina, on the bark of a fallen log, and pushing up menacingly through the fallen leaves the mummy-like, dead - black Xyleria polymorpha, or Dead Man's Fingers.


An enjoyable day, and not a bad haul for the driest September in 50 years.

Liam McCaughey

 
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Sycamore blackspot

Inkcap

Fairies' bonnets,

Fairies' bonnets

Dead man’s fingers

Coral Spot

King Alfred’s Cake

Bootlaces

Mycena

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