This year’s long autumn, free of any significant cold weather, has benefited a number of fungi. Our local sand dunes have been quite productive and several people have commented to me about the abundance of fruiting bodies on Whiteford Dunes. Clitocybe barbularum (Omphalina barbularum in some books) is a common species on all our local dune systems. This small, brown toadstool is one of a number of sand dune-specific species and is usually found growing in a bed of Sand-hill Screw-moss (Syntrichia ruralis subsp. ruraliformis) along with other species like the rather poisonous Ivory Funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa). Both of these species are Basidiomycetes that produce spores on gills that are formed on the underside of the cap. The photos below were taken on Baglan Dunes.
Clitocybe rivulosa (Ivory Funnel)
Conifer plantations in the Neath Valley have been relatively poor this year but these fruiting bodies of Elastic Saddle (Helvella elastica) in the photo below were found at the edge of a Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) stand above Resolven.
Helvella elastica (Elastic Saddle)
Although the fruiting body of Elastic Saddle looks superficially like that of a typical gill-bearing toadstool, it is in fact an Ascomycete, not a Basidiomycete. It produces spores all over the surface of the saddle-like cap and does not have gills or pores (see fruiting body on right).