Stour Valley

A Day out with our Group

Fascinating Fungus Foray
After several days of very wet conditions, we were fortunate to have chosen a morning of brilliant sunshine for our annual Foray in Furze Hill Playing Field Mistley, on October 20th. The area consists of three pitches which produced the first finds of two species of waxcaps, the pointed conica, which changes to black when touched and also patches of the lovely bright yellow ceracea.

The rest of the field is covered with self sown oak trees, plus specimen trees, three to four hundred years old. Overriding all these at eight hundred years old is Old Knobbly which even has its own website.

The two commonest species were honey fungus on the dead tree stumps and also boot lace fungus, feared by gardeners, as it is quite destructive to many garden specimens. Amongst the leaf litter were large numbers of clitocybe nebularis (the cloudy agaric), fulfilling its purpose of breaking down organic matter to nutrients and recycling. This species is edible but sadly has no taste.

Several bracket fungi were found on the oaks including the beef steak fungus, which looks like meat but tastes strongly of tannin to my liking. We also found several very hard ganoderma species and the inonotus bracket which glances silver in the sun.

A few deep purple blewits were found amongst the leaves; a good edible species, but not enough to share amongst us. Another pretty purple species, the amethyst deceiver and its close relation, the deceiver, were also seen.

Several species of bonnet caps added to the basket. Gallopus which produces a white liquid when damaged and M. crocata which turns orange, were also spotted.

A rather decrepit white species soon showed its true colour, by producing the foul smell of the stinkhorn. Fortunately, the egg stage, looking and feeling like a snake’s egg was found and by dissection, we were able to show the remarkable growth structure of this fungus.

Other finds included the poisonous sulphur tuft together with several bright types of brightly coloured russula or brittle gills as they are now known. A strange jelly like fungus, growing on dead wood was discovered to be neobulgaria pura.

This added up to a very respectable haul of thirty four species (list available). Just to complete the day, our leader who was riding a scooter, ran out of power and had to be pushed for the last stretch back to the car park.

Ian C Rose
Natural History Interest Group