Monday, September 26, 2011

A Fun Girl Foray: Part Two

This post continues my recent fungal foray round the RSPB Lodge nature reserve (Part One is here). If you don't like Amanita muscaria, well, I'd stop reading now. As I said in my previous post, I am not a fungal expert and have put up these photos just to show the variety I managed to find on even a short foray. In nature's infinite book of fungal secrets, only a little I can read.

My last post finished at the lower end of the RSPB heathland (at GR TL 19423 47837). I'm pretty sure this is a common earthball (Scleroderma citrinum). I hope I got that one right. It's nestling amongst pine bark debris, sheep's sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedling.

And some more earthballs, larger this time, under the Scots pine trees.
Boletes again? 
Here's a view looking across the heathland. The colours are glorious. On days like this when there is no-one else about it feels like my private nature reserve. 
The old stumps are festooned with lichens.
Growing under the birch trees, I think this pretty-in-pale-pink mushroom has a Degas-esque quality.
A curious bracket fungus on an old birch stump. Update: Most likely to be birch polypore or razor strop (Piptoporus betulinus). Thanks to Abbey Meadows for suggestion. I can see a nose and an ear....
Yay! My favourite fungi! It's so outrageously opulent in the otherwise subdued brown leaf litter. Here's a fly agaric (Amanita muscaria).
I believe that Amanita is from a Greek word for mushroom. Muscaria (from the Latin for fly) refers to the use of the mushroom as a fly deterrent. In his 13th century 'De VegetabilisAlbertus Magnus writes 'vocatur fungus muscarum, eo quod in lacte pulverizatus interficit muscas'. A translation of this (from Wikipedia) runs thusly...'It is called the mushroom of flies, because crushed in milk it kills flies'.

Here is another, older Amanita looking rather like a crème brûlée spinkled with nuts.

This dark, flakey-topped mushroom was growing under some pine and birch trees. 
Almost a bagel? (The little fly is well camouflaged.) Update: identified as brown roll rim (Paxillus involutus). Thanks to Abbey Meadows :-)
This looks like a Russula.
As I was nearing the Gatehouse (the RSPB shop and main entrance to the reserve) there were fly agarics scattered all through the birchwoods to the left of the main drive. 
Agarics wear petticoats. This one, growing right against an old birch tree, was more forward than most in coquettishly revealing her underskirts..... 
...and made me think of Toulouse-Lautrec's La Troupe de Mlle Eglantine (here from Wikipedia).
Fly agaric mushrooms contain potent psychoactive, hallucinogenic chemicals (mainly muscimol). That doesn't seem to bother this ladybird.
They are just so lavish and beautiful. I love this time of year.
This little button was just pushing its way out of the damp earth. 
I walked home via the new heath under blue skies.
There's a short cut to Sandy through this gate and down the hill. 


  1. Love the lushious red ones. We have had some big mushrooms around here lately too. All the rain, I guess.Not typical for fall.

  2. Hi Tammy. The fly agaric can't be beaten for sheer vibrancy. That rich red! Simply stunning.

  3. Mel, what's the new heath like now? Last time I was there, which is also the first time we met, I saw some baby heather plants, but nothing larger. I had hopes that this might become the largest area of heather heathland in Bedfordshire and eventually acquire a decent lichen flora.

  4. Martin
    You know, I must go back and check that bit of lichen heath. I like to think that expanding it is in the site plan.

  5. I've only come across Fly agaric when they are mature and not photogenic, lovely shots, some are difficult to id notably the boletes as sometimes you need to look underneath and at the stem etc but the 'bagel' is Brown rollrim and the bracket fungi is probably razor strop (Birch polypore). I never realsised Sandy had such extensive heathland though sadly it is only a place I have driven through. Nice post.

  6. Thanks abbey meadows. The Lodge nature reserve is crammed with fly agaric at the moment. And in this weather the heath looks just fine, even though the heather just past its best
    The heathland is really lovely here, well worth a visit. I took more shots today and will post in next few days.
    Next time you drive this way you'll know what to do then....

  7. Re lichens on stumps: I can see Cladonia chlorophaea in your photos. The podetia have prominent cups (scyphi) that mostly widen gradually. Other suspects on rotting wood include C.coniocraea, C.macilenta and C.ochrochlora. These have pointed podetia, but ochrochlora usually has tiny abrupt scypi at the tips (C.coniocraea also has these sometimes). C.ochrochlora is relatively robust (about 4cm tall) compared with the others (about 2cm). C.macilenta has red apothecia at the tips, but when infertile is difficult to separate from C.coniocrea by sight. However C.macilenta is usually K (potassium hydroxide solution) + yellow-orange and C.coniocraea is C-, but this test doesn't work on photographs :-) C.coniocraea also grows on living trees, particularly birch, near the base.

  8. Hi Martin!! Thanks for your emailed comment which I've posted above as anonymous above. Sorry you had problems posting :-(
    I must go back to that patch of lichen heath up the far end and do a post on wedding cake lichen and C.marilynmonroensis!!

  9. Synonyms
    Wedding cake lichen (Lloyd) = Cladonia cervicornis subsp. verticillata.
    Cladonia.marilynmonroensis (Lloyd) = C.coccifera (=C.diversa nom. invalid)

  10. that Fly Agaric is like the mushroom in the super mario mushroom. this is my first one to see a photo. i never seen anything like it in my place.


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