Friday, 11 September 2015

This blog is supposed to be about birds, but I have published occasional pictures of fungi. The park has a remarkable assortment of these, and the mostly cool and wet summer has laid the foundations for a good show of them. Here is a supplement to the blog with some species I haven't covered so far. Many thanks to Mario for educating me about them.

There is a record growth of Fairy Ring mushrooms (Marasmius oreades). These are in the grass everywhere. The spreading ring of mushrooms leaves a trace in the grass, first of lush dark green where the grass has been stimulated into fast growth, then of bare ground where the grass has become exhausted and died.

These are Poplar Fieldcaps (Agrocybe cylindracea). Other members of the genus grow in open grass -- hence the name -- but this one prefers poplars. They were under a black poplar at the top of Buck Hill.

This bracket fungus is called Ganoderma resinaceum, and as far as I know it has no English name. When damaged, the cap exudes a dark brown resin. It is quite rare in  Britain. This one was growing on a plane tree near the Physical Energy statue.

Here is a Stubble Rosegill (Volvariella gliocephala). It was growing not in stubble but in the unpromising substrate of a bed of wood chips laid under a plane tree near the Speke obelisk as a gardening experiment. 'Gliocephala' means 'glue head', and you can see that bits of debris are adhering to the sticky cap.

The remainder of the pictures are of the development of a Silky Rosegill (Volvariella bombycina, named for a supposed resemblance of the cap to the cocoon of a silkworm moth, Bombyx mori). It is on a horse chestnut tree near the Buck Hill children's playground. An earlier one on this tree was smashed before I could get a good picture of it, but this fungus produces a succession of fruiting bodies emerging from egg-like structures, so another one appeared and so far has not been damaged.

This is the 'egg' on 31 August.

1 September. The cap is beginning to burst out.

2 September. It is colonised by small flies which, I think, are laying eggs in the cap. (But I may well be wrong -- see comment below.)

3 September -- two views.

4 September.

6 September. The cap has now reached its maximum size and the pink gills are turning brown.

9 September. The cap is now withering. I think the damage around the edge is caused by fly larvae. At the base of the stem you can see more 'eggs' which will develop into new caps when this one has rotted.

We will get back to birds in Friday evening's blog post.


  1. I think you]re probably wrong about the flies laying eggs. Some species of fungi exude material that flies like and in consuming it carry spores away to different places. The best-known example is the stinkhorn family notably the stinkhorn (e.g. 'Phallus impudicus' – parental guidance necessary before looking at photos of this one) which actually smells of faeces.

    Harry G.

    1. I may well be wrong about this. But it's possible that both are true.

  2. Lovely stuff Ralph, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge in this blog.
    Your photography is excellent.
    I suppose with so many brilliant examples of funghi there wasn't mush room left for birds yesterday?

    1. I did a full blog post on the day's birds a few hours before. Just gave you an extra post because I'm such a fun guy.