The Fifth Kingdom

Friday, October 23rd 2020

Neither plant nor animal, fungi has been recognised as a separate kingdom for over fifty years. This time of year is when most of the fungi is found at the reserve. The team of species recorders at Foxglove has discovered so much this month that there are more species of fungi than there are of birds on the observation board in the Field Centre. Like all other living organisms, fungi is named and classified into groups. Until recently, there were relatively few English names for British fungi but the British Mycological Society have been creating new ones to encourage more interest in biodiversity.

This Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens is found on the old, rotting wood of broad-leaved trees, especially oak, the wood becoming stained blue-green. This has been used to supply the green colour for making Tunbridge Ware. If you look carefully, you can see some of the stained wood in the top left of the photograph. It was photographed on one of the many log piles.

In the conifer woodland look out for Green-staining Coral Ramaria abietina so named because its branches turn greenish when bruised. A good species to be found at Foxglove because it has been described as growing in 'small trooping groups'!

Similarly looking, is Meadow Coral Clavulinopsis corniculata, however, this prefers grassy habitats. 

Yellow Club Clavulinopsis helvola is found among grass and mosses on unimproved grassland and heathland but can also live in broad-leaved woodland. 

Another meadow species is Meadow Puffball Lycoperdon utriforme which looks a bit like a white golf ball when it first emerges but then turns dark-grey brown over time.

The large logs of broad-leaved trees that line the access road are a perfect place for Hairy-Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum. The upper surface of these irregularly-shaped tiered brackets is distinctly hairy. Individual brackets are 2 to 8 cm across and have irregularly wavy edges. The colours, which are zoned and generally paler towards the margin, darken with age. They can be quite colourful and are found all year round.

Primrose Brittlegill, False Saffron Milkcaps, Elfin Saddle, Blackening Waxcaps, Woolly Milkcaps, White Saddle, Conifer Mazegill and Spotted Toughshank are just a few of the other names on the monthly list for October.

Many thanks go to the dedicated team of volunteers who work hard to discover and identify the various species with special thanks to Chris Meek for providing the photographs for today's blog.

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