On Saturday, I visited Nymans Gardens in Handcross for a foray led by two experienced members of the West Weald Fungus Recording Group. The WWFRG mainly runs forays in Surrey, but this one was quite close to me so I went along. There were quite a few inexperienced people taking part, so the foray worked on some of the more basic fungi. That was ideal for me though, as we found excruciatingly common fungi I had previously overlooked.
The walk started in the arboretum. There wasn’t much there apart from a patch of Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) and a single fruit body of Agaricus silvaticus. The Sulphur Tuft is an abundant species, found growing on living or dead tree matter and sometimes on nearby ground. But don’t worry, barely any fungi have any detrimental effects on trees.
When we reached the woodland, more fungi started to appear. In patches of fresh grass there were a few Mycena, very small and delicate fungi. Near a stump was a huge patch of Glistening Inkcap (Coprinus micaceus), so called because of the small glistening white scales on the cap. We also came across lots more Sulphur Tuft!
Butter Caps (Collybia butyracea) were also plentiful in the woods, a few different colour variations too. This is one of the species I’ve previously overlooked but now it seems so recognisable. The cap of Butter Cap is very viscid, like melted butter. They’re an average sized fungus, some having brown caps and some having butter coloured caps (another reason for the name Butter Cap).
A bit further along the path was a Sycamore log, which was very popular with fungi. These included Candlesnuff (Xylaria hypoxylon), Honey Fungi ( Armillaria cepistipes), Dead Moll’s Fingers (Xylaria longipes) and a scarce species called Pseudocraterellus sinuosus. The candlesnuff was very interesting and I learnt that it gets its name from the fact that when it is flicked, the spores burst out of the fruiting bodies in a pale ‘smoke’, like when you snuff a candle.
To finish off the walk, the leaders gave me a challenge. We had found a Russula on the walk, which needed identifying. At the start of the walk I was given a book on Russulas by the leaders, called “The Genus Russula in Great Britain” by Geoffrey Kibby. I was to use this book to find out what species this Russula is. It discolours reddish-brown before black when it is cut, but the gills are too crowded for some other species with this feature. It also tastes very acrid when the gills are chewed for a short while. All this points to Russula densifolia!