26 September 2013

Coming to a wood near you...fungi!

Fungal foray collection, Neath Valley, September

Mushrooms and toadstools seem to be coming up in abundance this autumn. A short walk through a Sitka Spruce forest near Pentreclwydau this week turned up about 20 species in 30 minutes, including some of the specimens shown in the photograph. I'll post more photos of individual species over the next few weeks. In the meantime, one of the most interesting species found this week was Orange Grisette (Amanita crocea). The Grisettes are a group of Amanitas that have a volva (a sac-like structure at the base of the stem) but don't have a membranous ring on the upper part of the stem - the volva can be seen in the specimen lying down in the photo (below). The floccose markings on the stem are an important diagnostic feature.

This is probably our most attractive Grisette species. It is usually associated with birch trees, and although it is widespread, it has a local distribution in Britain.
Other Amanita species seen in the Pentreclwydau forest this week were Grey Veiled Amanita (Amanita porphyria) and Blusher (Amanita rubescens).
The most notorious Amanita species is Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), which is deadly poisonous and responsible for more deaths than any other species in Europe. Death Cap does occur in our region, sometimes appearing under trees in parks (e.g. Clyne Gardens). It is variable in colour, but the fruiting body usually has a yellowish-green cap and the stem has both a membranous ring and a volva. It is frequently associated with oak and beech.

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