11 September 2010

Poisonpies and Porcelain Fungus

The Poisonpies (Hebeloma) are a difficult group of toadstools to identify. They produce brown spores so their gills tend to be coloured clay-brown and some of them have a raphanoid smell, i.e. of radish or raw potatoes. Bitter Poisonpie (Hebeloma sinapizans) is a medium to large toadstool with a strong raphanoid smell and a cap that is pale tan in colour, often fading paler near the edge. In wet weather the cap tends to be quite slimy to the touch. The stipe has scurfy scales on it. Common Poisonpie (Hebeloma crustuliniforme)is similar but usually smaller with a less scurfy stipe.


Briton Ferry woods, where this photograph was taken of Common Poisonpie, has both species.
The name Poisonpie derives from the pie-like appearance of the cap with a burnt pastry look in the centre. But that’s where the similarity to cakes ends! Most Hebeloma species (perhaps all) contain some nasty gastro-intestinal toxins, so they are rather poisonous.
The large, mature Beech plantation in Briton Ferry woods has a diverse fungal flora that contains many typical beechwood species like the beautiful Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida). It is an unmistakable species with a name that describes its appearance perfectly. It grows on the trunks of deciduous trees, particularly Beech.

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