Saturday, 25 October 2008

Decomposers at work

This week, a whole bunch of large mushrooms emerged at the base of the Ceoanthus in our garden. They were a type of fungus called Lactarius vietus, the Grey Milk-Cap. These gill fungi are the reproductive organs of a mycelious fungus that decomposes leaf litter and helps provide nutrients for shrubby plants like the Ceoanthus. Alas, it is not edible.
This inspired me to look for other local fungi at this time of year. Rosie and I went for a walk at Consal Forge and found lots of them.
This is the Brick Cap, Hypholoma sublateritium, growing on a dead tree stump. It is also not edible. Apparently it has a very bitter taste and is seldom eaten by anything.
The Honey Fungus, Armillaria mellea, is a very attractive decomposer of old tree stumps and it is found in profusion at this time of year. It can infect the lower trunk of old trees and eventually kill them. This is also a bitter tasting fungus which is very unpalatable.

Here is a clump of mature caps of Honey fungus on the trunk of a living tree. This tree will probably be dead in a few years as it was very heavily infected, having fungal fruiting bodies emerging at several parts of the trunk.
Mycena Polygramma is a very delicate looking fungus which stands out in bright light. It decomposes dead wood and is often found on damp old logs and broken branches. This fungal growth was on an old tree stump. Again, not an edible species. In fact we did not find a single edible fungus on our walk in the woods.
Off to Tesco for some mature Field Mushrooms. At least we get a fungal meal somehow!

1 comment:

Dan said...

Intriguing post.