22 September 2017

Bonnets in Local Sitka Spruce Plantations

Mycena species are commonly known as Bonnets. Most of them are small mushrooms that are found in woodland, although a few occur in grassland habitats, including sand dunes. They are particularly common in our local conifer forests where you might find about 15 species in a good year. They are saprotrophic species which grow on woodland litter and play a crucial role in the woodland floor recycling process. Sitka Spruce plantations in the Neath and Afan Valleys are good places to look for Bonnets, where Mycena filopes (Iodine Bonnet), Mycena metata,  Mycena sanguinolenta (Bleeding Bonnet), Mycena leptocephala (Nitrous Bonnet) and Mycena galopus (Milking Bonnet) are probably the most evident species.

Mycena filopes (left) and Mycena metata (right) - Bryn Forest

Mycena metata - Glyncorrwg Forest

Mycena filopes and Mycena metata are very similar and both smell of iodoform (the typical medicine cabinet smell). However, Mycena metata has distinctive pinkish hues (often subtle) and microscopic characteristics which help to identify it. Also, in my experience, the iodoform smell is much stronger with Mycena filopes, which also has silvery streaking on its cap that is more easily observed in drying specimens. Mycena sanguinolenta is an attractive species which bleeds a reddish fluid when cut and its gills have a red-brown edge.

Mycena sanguinolenta -  Glyncastle Forest, Resolven

Mycena galopus and Mycena leptocephala are very common species in all types of woodland and often occur in large groups in Sitka Spruce forests. Mycena galopus can often be identified instantly because the broken stem exudes a milky fluid, hence its common name - no other British Bonnet does this. Also, unlike Mycena leptocephala, which has an acrid nitrous smell (often faint and fleeting), Mycena galopus doesn't have a characteristic smell. When young, Mycena leptocephala is quite dark in colour but it becomes more grey with age as the cap expands.

Mycena galopus - Afan Forest Park

Mycena leptocephala - Glyncastle Forest, Resolven

Mycena pura (Lilac Bonnet) and Mycena pelianthina (Blackedge Bonnet) are larger, very attractive Bonnets which are occasionally found in Sitka Spruce plantations. Both have fairly strong raphanoid (radish-like) smells and lilac or pinkish-brown hues. Mycena pearsoniana is a similar but less common species which I have seen in two local Sitka plantations this autumn.

Mycena pura - Pentrclwydau Forest

Mycena pelianthina - Bryn Forest

Less conspicuous, but often abundant, there are a number of tiny Bonnets that grow on spruce needles and twigs. The most common is Mycena rorida (Dripping Bonnet), which is only about a centimetre high and has a stem which is covered in a viscous, slimy fluid. I've recorded it in all the main Sitka plantations in Neath Port Talbot in the last two months.

Mycena rorida - Briton Ferry Woods

Other small Bonnets that grow on spruce needles are Mycena stylobates (Bulbous Bonnet), which has a distinctive basal disc and Mycena aciculata which has a conspicuously hairy cap and stem. 

Mycena stylobates - Afan Forest Park

Mycena aciculata - Rhigos

One of the smallest species is Mycena tenerrima. It looks like a tiny white pin with icing sugar sprinkled on its head.

Mycena tenerrima - Abergarwed Forest

1 comment:

Barry Stewart said...

That's a wonderful Mycena medley and I love the glassy-looking stipe of rorida