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Mitrula paludosa Bog Beacon

Mitrula paludosa Bog Beacon

Photo: Bryan Edwards

2008 got off to a spectacular start with the first Dorset record of the very rare Battaraea phalloides Sandy Stiltball, which was found on a roadside bank in the west of the County on the unusual date of New Years Day. This distinctive fungus is usually associated with sandy soil in the drier and warmer parts of Britain, particularly East Anglia. It is a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Fungi are traditionally thought of producing their fruiting bodies in late summer and autumn. There are however a small number that are spring fruiting and 2008 produced a number of interesting records. Verpa conica Thimble Morel is a very uncommon species associated with Hawthorn on calcareous grassland. Up to this year there had only been three records in the county, the last in 1991. It was found in three sites in April 2008 in the north-east of the county, all on unimproved chalk grassland. The closely related Morchella elata was discovered growing on wood chips in a garden on Portland; this appears to be only the second record for the county, but it may be overlooked in this habitat. Smaller but more colourful is Mitrula paludosa Bog Beacon which has a whitish stalk with a bright orange cap. It can be found in April and May growing on slowly rotting debris in shallow acid water in wet woodland, and was seen in several new sites this spring.

The last two autumns have not been particularly noted for the numbers of fungi, probably due to relatively cool and wet summers, with Agaricus and Amanita species being notably scarce. Nevertheless unusual records continue to be made.

Two colourful waxcaps of interest have been recorded in autumn 2008. Hygrocybe intermedia Fibrous Waxcap is a large orange species with a dry scaly cap and stout fibrous stem, and was found in several meadows at Kingcombe, bringing the total number of waxcaps recorded from the site to 22. Hygrocybe splendidissima Splendid Waxcap is very similar to H. punicea but has a smoother orange-red stem, with yellow rather than white flesh in the centre. Several troops were found on Corfe Common and in one meadow at Kingcombe; the only other Dorset record is from Hog Cliff NNR in 1988.

Two quite conspicuous species appear to be spreading in the county. Taphrina alni Alder Tongue which forms galls on the female cones of riverside Alder trees. The extraordinary tongue-like structures induced by the fungus are produced in late summer, and green turning to reddish-purple. The second is a rust fungus found on the leaves of Daisy, Puccinia distincta. The leaves appear yellow and stand more upright than normal, and closer inspection reveals small orange fruiting bodies. It can even be found in lawns.

Tooth-fungi, so called for having tooth-like spines rather than gills, are generally rare in the county with few recent records. They show a preference for old established woodland and can be found with broad-leaved or coniferous trees. The third Dorset record of Phellodon niger Black Tooth was made in Wareham Forest where it is associated with Scot’s Pine.

For more information on fungi and local forays in Dorset see the Dorset Fungi Group Website:

Dorset Fungi List

Poronia punctata: Nail Fungus

Poronia punctata Nail Fungus

Photo: Bryan Edwards

The first complete list of fungi for Dorset was published in the Flora of Dorset. The list reflects the recording effort in the county, with the west relatively well-worked by John Keylock and the Southern Fungus Recording Group. The Dorset Fungus Group has concentrated mainly on the east of the county.

The list for the county stands as follows:

  • Ascomycetes:
  • Basidiomycetes:
  • Myxomycetes:
  • 270
  • 1154
  • 115

As there is no resident mycologist in the county the list is only provisional and more records are always welcome, particularly of Ascomycetes.

Several important species have been added to the Dorset list recently including a internationally significant population of the Biodiversity Priority Species Buglossosporus pulvinus Oak Polypore found on old oaks in the east of the county. Another Priority Species, Poronia punctata Nail Fungus, has become established on two heathland sites with the re-introduction of pony grazing to the heaths. One species hit the headlines of the local press, Astraeus hygrometricus Barometer Earthstar, was found in a site in Poole, and is one of the few recent records for this species in the UK. It was a very good autumn generally for earthstar’s with many received in the DERC office.

Focus on grassland fungi

Crimson Waxcap’s in unimproved grassland

Crimson Waxcap’s in unimproved grassland

Photo: Bryan Edwards

Old grasslands have long been recognised as an important habitat for plants and insects, but more recently their importance for fungi has been highlighted. Autumn 2004 has been a particularly good season for grassland species.

One group of fungi particularly associated with unimproved grasslands are the very attractive waxcaps (genus Hygrocybe). From the limited survey work carried out so far in the county it is apparent there are a number of important sites such as Corfe Common, Hog Cliff, Kingcombe Meadows and parts of the Lulworth Ranges. Along with the waxcaps other grassland specialists may be found including Clavulinopsis species, Geoglossum species (earth-tongues) and on dung Coprinus species (Ink Caps). Most of these species are visible from the end of August through to the first hard frosts in November.

Who To Contact

If you would like to send in your fungi records, or for further information on how you can become involved, please contact:

Surveyor:

Bryan Edwards

E-mail:

Enquiries@derc.org.uk

Telephone:

01305 228520