05 October 2010

Common fungi in our woodlands

Several people have told me that they've been been disappointed by the paucity of fungi on show in some of our woodlands this autumn. It can be like that sometimes, one wood might be poor while another may be fantastic. The unpredictable nature of fungi, their sudden appearance, is part of their attraction. Here are a few common species which I've photographed recently.
The Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is unmistakable, surprisingly common and often grows with birch trees. The flesh contains a toxic isoxazole alkaloid that causes an alarming inebriation syndrome which includes a very unpleasant period of nausea. People who ate this toadstool in the experimental days of the late 1960s never really found the 'chemical escape from reality' worth the unpleasant side effects. So don't try it at home folks!

Other common species I've seen in our woodlands during the last 2 weeks include puff balls and earth balls.Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)is one your likely to come across in any type of woodland.

The Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum) is particularly common in Briton Ferry Woods.

The Scaly Earthball (Scleroderma verrucosum) is abundant along the woodland path (the old railway track) near Efail Fach.

Lastly, there's a lot of White Saddle (Helvella crispa) in woodlands in the Neath area this year. It is abundant in places along the forestry road through Briton Ferry Woods.


Barry Stewart said...

Very nice photos Charles. I'm definitely coming round more to using natural light as much as possible. I can't help wondering you must be using sheets of white paper or similar to help achieve such good illumination of your subjects?

Charles Hipkin said...

I rarely use flash for anything and each of these photos was taken using natural illumination without artificial reflection. It's more luck than judgement most of the time. Using a camera with a full frame sensor that delivers big pixels (rather than lots of small pixels)that can take good photos at very high ASA ratings is really helpful.

Meriwether said...

Great photos Charles. My mother always told me never to eat toadstools and its stuck with me to this day. I'm a supermarket mushroom man.

Sid said...

Excellent photos Charles. By the way, if you want to experience the "escape from reality" of the Fly agaric, use the age old Druid method. The head Druid would eat the fungi along with lots of water, his brethren would then drink his urine, gaining the hallucogenic effects without the bad side effects. I think this is where the saying " taking the p***" comes from too.

Jeremy said...

Where did you photograph the Fly Agarics?

Charles Hipkin said...

The Fly Agarics were photographed in the Gyfylchi Forest on the outskirts of Afan Forest Park, near Bryn Betws Farm. There was a mixture of spruce and larch mixed with scrubby areas of birch and willow there. Birch scrub on the Llansamlet Industrial Estate is another good place to look for it.