Saturday and we had four people on the hedge laying course with Jim and Sarah helping for the day. We chose the hedge I planted some ten or so years ago which is next to Cobbs Wood Farm as it was perfect for a Midland style using only hand tools (no chainsaws).
The day started off a bit dreary but, as we worked through the day, the sunshine came out and the hedge was falling over faster than a set of dominoes. On another note we found a toad hopping around under the hedge; we moved it to a safer spot. Interestingly I usually only ever see toads at Wimpole, frogs are much rarer – I guess they may be sweeter meat for the grass snakes and other predators. Toads are much nastier to eat (not that I have tried!!!)
After lunch we started to stake the hedge and then bind in the traditional Midland style. The brash was put on the other side of the road and the top of the stakes were trimmed. All in all a very good day and once the hedge was laid we could see the horse paddock and further woods. This’ll make a fine walk along the farm track now.
No rest for the wicked… a few hours later and I had to light the mobile bonfire ( always nice to have a fire blazing into the night). Sparks flew everywhere and the spotlights made an interesting photographic opportunity. Alas, as my dog had absconded, I had to go looking for him near Cobbs Wood Farm – it took half an hour to find him and so it was then too late to go to the official fireworks …
As it turned out I went up to the Gloucesters and had a very different view of the fireworks than usual- in a way it was much nicer to see them in the context of the surroundings, well worth sitting on the oak seats taking in the fine view, however I didn’t manage to get any decent photos.
Double booked myself on Sunday!!!!! The CNTV were in and the only job I had for them was to take down some more fencing in the South Avenue- there are miles of it. The day started wetter than the day before ( in fact it was raining quite badly); damn, it was a long way from any shelter. Had to leave them to it while I did two fungi walks but I was also mulling over a few ideas to make future working parties more enjoyable. One idea I think may be well worth doing is to buy an old Bedford lorry-
maybe an army RL Bedford from the sixties with a canvas back (could turn it into a mobile tea lorry with stove!!!). After the first fungi walk I went back to see how the CNTV were getting on… luckily for them the weather had improved and we had lunch without accompanying rain. Another fungi walk in the afternoon and then it was back to pick up the CNTV only to find Graham working alongside them. They have done a sterling job and now the forestry team will have to collect up the old fencing wire and rotten stakes. To reward their efforts I always take them to the Restaurant afterwards for tea and cakes.
This year has been a bit odd (especially with this long, drawn out autumn). There weren’t an awful lot of grassland fungi to find but I have devised a route that takes in quite a few trees with fungi on them ( my speciality). Below are some of the fungi we found.
These three photos are of the shaggy inkcap; it grows in grassy places and quite often under trees. These are very edible ‘though delicate in flavour so cook them in a frying pan with just a little bit of butter. However, don’t bother picking any that have gone a bit black as, by the time you get home, you’ll have been left with an inky black mess…
Dog puke/vomit is a slime mold (or mould) and is a broad term describing some organisms that use spores to reproduce. The one we found was growing on grass. Here’s a piece from Wiki: “Slime molds were formerly classified as fungi but are no longer considered part of this kingdom. Although not related to one another, they are still sometimes grouped for convenience within the paraphyletic group referred to as kingdom Protista. Found in a wide variety of colors, more than 900 species of slime mold occur all over the world. Their common name refers to part of some of these organisms’ life cycles where they can appear as gelatinous “slime”. This is mostly seen with the myxogastria, which are the only macroscopic slime molds. Most slime molds are smaller than a few centimeters, but some species may reach sizes of up to several square meters and masses of up to 30 grams. Many slime molds, namely the “cellular” slime molds, actually do not spend most of their time in this state. As long as food is abundant, these slime molds exist as single-celled organisms. When food is in short supply, many of these single-celled organisms will congregate and start moving as a single body. In this state they are sensitive to airborne chemicals and can detect food sources. They can readily change the shape and function of parts and may form stalks that produce fruiting bodies, releasing countless spores, light enough to be carried on the wind or hitch a ride on passing animals. They feed on microorganisms that live in any type of dead plant material. They contribute to the decomposition of dead vegetation, and feed on bacteria, yeasts, and fungi. For this reason, slime molds are usually found in soil, lawns, and on the forest floor, commonly on deciduous logs. However, in tropical areas they are also common on inflorescences, fruits and in aerial situations (e.g., in the canopy of trees). In urban areas, they are found on mulch or even in the leaf mold in gutters, and also grow in air conditioners, especially when the drain is blocked. One of the most commonly encountered slime molds is the yellow Physarum polycephalum, found both in nature in forests in temperate zones, as well as in classrooms and laboratories.”
Taken from Wiki:” Rigidoporus ulmarius is a plant pathogen found mainly on broad-leaved trees. It used to be very common on elm. The fruiting bodies are white, knobbly and relatively hard, requiring a fair amount of force to break. Older bodies may be covered with green algae, or partially covered with vegetation and leaves making them difficult to spot. They often encapsulate grass, twigs and other debris. Tubes are 1–5 mm long in each layer, pinkish to orange when young, browning with age, each layer separated by a thin contrasting band of white flesh. Pores 5–8 per millimeter, red-orange fading to clay-pink or buff with age. Spores pale yellow, globose, 6–7.5 µm in diameter. Hyphal structure monomitic; generative hyphae lacking clamps. Habitat at the base of trunks of deciduous trees, usually elm. Season all year, perennial. Common. Not edible. Found in Europe. A fruit body of R. ulmarius discovered in Kew Gardens in 2003 was, for a time, the largest known fungal fruit body ever discovered, measuring 150 by 133 centimetres (59 by 52 in) in diameter, and had a circumference of 425 centimetres (167 in). However, in 2011, a specimen of Phellinus ellipsoideus (formerly Fomitiporia ellipsoidea) significantly larger was discovered in China.”
The yellow fieldcap. This colourful little mushroom of rich grassland and roadside verges (and found occasionally also on damp woodchip mulch) is one of the shortest-lived of all mushrooms. It goes from a yellow ‘egg on a stick’ via a pinkish parasol stage to a mid-to-dark brown (or, in hot, dry weather, light ochre) mushroom in less than a day. This mushroom, better known until recently as Bolbitius vitellinus (previously thought to be a separate species but now merged with Bolbitius titubans) is still quite commonly referred to as the egg yolk fungus. Bolbitius means of ‘cow dung’ as it does rather like places where cows have been grazing.
Wiki again:”Xylaria polymorpha, commonly known as dead man’s fingers, is a saprobic fungus. It is a common inhabitant of forest and woodland areas, usually growing from the bases of rotting or injured tree stumps and decaying wood. It has also been known to colonize substrates like woody legume pods, petioles, and herbaceous stems. It is characterized by its elongated upright, clavate, or strap-like stromata poking up through the ground, much like fingers. The genus Xylaria contains about 100 species of cosmopolitan fungi. Polymorpha means “many forms.” As its name suggests, it has a very variable but often club-shaped fruiting body (stroma) resembling burned wood. Often this fungus is found with a multitude of separate “digits” but at times the individual parts will be fused together.”
Wiki:”Coprinellus micaceus is a common species of fungus in the family Psathyrellaceae with a cosmopolitan distribution. The fruit bodies of the saprobe typically grow in clusters on or near rotting hardwood tree stumps or underground tree roots. Depending on their stage of development, the tawny-brown mushroom caps may range in shape from oval to bell-shaped to convex, and reach diameters up to 3 cm (1.2 in).
The caps, marked with fine radial grooves that extend nearly to the center, rest atop whitish stems up to 10 cm (3.9 in) long. In young specimens, the entire cap surface is coated with a fine layer of reflective mica-like cells that provide the inspiration for both the mushroom’s species name and the common names mica cap, shiny cap, and glistening inky cap. Although small and with thin flesh, the mushrooms are usually bountiful, as they typically grow in dense clusters. A few hours after collection, the gills will begin to slowly dissolve into a black, inky, spore-laden liquid—an enzymatic process called autodigestion or deliquescence. The fruit bodies are edible before the gills blacken and dissolve, and cooking will stop the autodigestion process.”
Wiki again: “The inedible fungus Daldinia concentrica is known by several common names, including King Alfred’s Cake, cramp balls, and coal fungus. It can be found in North America and Europe, where it lives on dead and decaying wood, especially on felled ash trees. It is a common, widespread saprotroph.
The fungus is ball-shaped, with a hard, friable, shiny black fruiting body 2 to 7 centimeters wide. It resembles a chunk of coal, which gives it several of its common names, including coal fungus and carbon balls. According to legend, King Alfred once hid out in a countryside homestead during war, and was put in charge of removing baking from the oven when it was done. He fell asleep and the cakes burned. Daldinia concentrica is said to resemble a cake left to this fate. The flesh of the fungus is purple, brown, or silvery-black inside, and is arranged in concentric layers. Each layer represents a season of reproduction. The asci are cylindrical and arranged inside the flask-shaped perithecium. When each ascus becomes engorged with fluid it extends outside the perithecium and releases spores.
D. concentrica contains several unique compounds, including a purple pigment from a perylene quinone and a metabolite called concentricol, which is oxidized squalene. Many types of insects and other small animals make their home inside this species of fungus. The fungus is a useful form of tinder for fire-lighting. The brown variety is usually too heavy and dense to be much good; the black variety is lighter and better. It does need to be completely dry, whereupon it will take a spark from traditional flint and steel. It burns slowly, much like a charcoal briquette, with a particularly pungent smoke. Once lit it is quite difficult to extinguish, but fragments can be broken off and transferred to a tinder ball to create an open flame. Caterpillars of the concealer moth Harpella forficella have been found to eat this fungus.”
Wiki:”Auricularia auricula-judae, known as the Jew’s ear, wood ear, jelly ear or by a number of other common names, is a species of edible Auriculariales fungus found worldwide. The fruiting body is distinguished by its noticeably ear-like shape and brown colouration; it grows upon wood, especially elder. Its specific epithet is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder tree; the common name “Judas’s ear” eventually became “Jew’s ear”, while today “jelly ear” and other names are sometimes used. The fungus can be found throughout the year in temperate regions worldwide, where it grows upon both dead and living wood. In the West, A. auricula-judae was used in folk medicine as recently as the 19th century for complaints including sore throats, sore eyes and jaundice, and as an astringent. Although it is not widely consumed in the West, it has long been popular in China, to the extent that Australia exported large volumes to China in the early twentieth century. Today, the fungus is a popular ingredient in many Chinese dishes, such as hot and sour soup, and also used in Chinese medicine. It is also used in Ghana, as a blood tonic. Modern research into possible medical applications have variously concluded that A. auricula-judae has antitumour, hypoglycemic, anticoagulant and cholesterol-lowering properties.”
Sections of the following are taken from First Nature : The rather attractive fungus called Coral Spot is a weak pathogen of broadleaf trees.It goes through a spongy conidial stage (producing asexual spores) and a tough perithecial stage (producing sexual spores) that at a glance look quite similar. Beech is the main host, but this colourful parasite is also fairly common on Sycamore, Horse Chestnut and Hornbeam, but hardly ever on conifers. Particularly susceptible are trees that have already been weakened by other stressing factors such as drought, another fungal infestation or physical damage. The effect of Coral Spot infection is that (usually small) twigs and branches die back, and then dense clusters of soft, pinhead-sized pink fungal blobs (the sexual stage in the complex lifecycle of this fungus) break through the thin bark. Later the blobs harden and turn dark reddish-brown (this is the conidial stage in the lifecycle), and by this time the infected timber is so weak that it tends to snap off during windy weather.”
Inonotus hispidus or shaggy bracket. The hairy upper surface of this massive bracket distinguishes it readily from Beefsteak Fungus. Inonotus hispidus is quite rare; it occurs mainly on trunks of broad-leaved trees, and in particular Fraxinus (ash trees) and Mallus (apple trees). In the photo on the right the fungus has infected a walnut tree. White rot results from attack by the shaggy bracket, and infected trees have to be felled because this aggressive decay agent weakens the timber and can result in trunks or branches breaking and falling in stormy weather. This annual bracket fungus appears in mid to late summer and the fruit bodies expand, darken, developing a thinner rounded edge before blackening. The brackets decay and will usually have fallen off their host trees by late autumn.
Clavaria fragilis :white spindles. Simple, unbranched clubs but often in bunches, like eels with their tails twisting upwards as they fight over a morsel buried in a riverbed, white spindles is the most common of the many fairy clubs and corals that pop up in unimproved grassland. (Their worm-like appearance is reflected in the synonym Clavaria vermicularis.) This tufted fairy club fungus, the type species of the Clavaria genus, is easy to spot… but only when it is growing in short grass.
Commonly known as the blackening waxcap, this very variable grassland mushroom is one of several species whose caps turn black with age; however, it can be readily distinguished from other similar waxcaps by its long-lasting fruit bodies which, once mature, turn jet black all over and then can remain standing for many weeks. Hygrocybe conica sometimes appears in lines along roadside verges, particularly on hillsides or where the grass is well shaded, moist and mossy. Although undeniably beautiful when seen in bright sunshine, these conical waxcap fungi look just as good in wet weather, when they stand out boldly against the green background of their grassland habitats. Blackening Waxcaps can be red, orange, yellow or, of course, jet black. Sometimes you will see all of these colours in a group and occasionally in a single cap. Equally varied are the shapes of the caps: some remain stubbornly sharply conical while others gradually open, out occasionally becoming almost flat but always retaining at least a slight central umbo. Fortunately in Britain and Ireland we get plenty of practice in recognising Blackening Waxcaps in all their many forms and colours, because next to the Ivory Waxcap Hygrocybe virginea they are the most common of the waxcaps found in northern Europe.
Localised in Britain and Ireland due to most grassland habitats being ‘improved’ so that they are too rich in nutrients to support waxcaps; however, where they do occur Blackening Waxcaps are often abundant and seen in large trooping groups. Unimproved parkland, golf course margins, the embankments of water resources reservoirs and man-made boating lakes, and country churchyards are often spangled with these ‘Tellytubby’ Toadstools.
Now I know this fungus as the many zoned fungus but it now appears to have a new name: turkey tail. Here is an interesting fact from Wiki:
‘According to the American Cancer Society: “Available scientific evidence does not support claims that the raw mushroom itself is an effective anti-cancer agent in humans. But there is some scientific evidence that substances derived from parts of the mushroom may be useful against cancer.” PSK displays anticancer activity in preliminary laboratory assessments in vitro, in vivo and in preliminary human research. Other basic research showed that PSK might reduce mutagen-induced, radiation-induced, and spontaneously induced development of experimental cancer cell preparations. PSK has shown to be beneficial as an adjuvant in the treatment of gastric, esophageal, colorectal, breast and lung cancers. Human pilot studies indicate PSK might reduce cancer recurrence when used as an adjuvant and other basic research has demonstrated the mushroom can inhibit certain human cancer cell lines in vitro. Further in vitro studies have shown that a nutraceutical blend (MC-S) of PSK, lentinan and other fungal extracts might also inhibit cancer cell proliferation under laboratory conditions.
The MD Anderson has reported that it is a “promising candidate for chemoprevention due to the multiple effects on the malignant process, limited side effects and safety of daily oral doses for extended periods of time.” At present, however, there are no approved drugs, mechanisms of action or scientifically verified anti-disease activities resulting from this mushroom.
Auricularia mesentericais or tripe fungi mainly seen in summer and autumn. It occurs most commonly on dead elm trees and on fallen elm trunks and branches, and so was particularly common after Dutch elm disease had ravaged the elms of Britain and Europe during the second half of the 20th century. However it does like horse chestnut trees too. The so-called Jelly Fungi are not really a taxonomic group but more a rag-tag of basidiomycetes with jelly-like textures, although few are a soft as the jelly we eat with custard. Tripe Fungus is quite variable in appearance, depending on the state of decay of its host timber as well as the developmental stage of the fruitbodies. Like most if not all jelly fungi, Auricularia mesenterica generally favours damp shady sites.
Long weekend… time for a beer 🙂