Leaders Nigel Stringer and Philip Jones
The weather forecast was not promising and rain started as the walk began from the car park at SN5837, but a dozen or so braved the elements to foray for fungi. Mountain bikers who shared the Forestry Commission car park relished the rain and mud and, after their fun, plunged their bikes and themselves into the swollen river to get clean.
A number of fungi were present on grassy areas within the car park including Brown Birch Bolete Leccinum scabrum growing with Silver Birch Betula pendula. When collecting fungi it is important to note what trees are in the vicinity as many have a mycorrhizal (fungus‐root) association where the tree benefits from minerals and water scavenged by the fungus mycelium and the fungus obtains sugars, produced by photosynthesis, from the tree.
Other fungi in this area included two Cortinarius species having a red/brown spore deposit easily seen on the stipe below the cap and on remnants of the cobweb‐like veil, typical of this genus. Cortinarius species are generally not easily named in the field. Also seen was a Russula with a bright red cap, white stipe and a hot taste when a small piece of gill was sampled and a Lactarius exuding a mild tasting ‘milk’ from the cap when damaged. All species of these three fungus genera are mycorrhizal with trees, either conifer or broadleaf.
Moving into the forest The Deceiver, Laccaria laccata, was found at the side of the path (called The Deceiver as the cap colour varies considerably with age but a glance at the gills shows these to be a typical pink which is a constant feature).
Red‐cracked Boletus, B. chrysenteron, showed the red colouration where slugs had eaten the upper layer of the cap. This common Bolete is mycorrhizal with various broad‐leaved trees.
Several wood‐rotting fungi were found including Turkeytail, Trametes versicolor, a common bracket fungus often forming rosettes, Candlesnuff Fungus, Xylaria hypoxylon, an Ascomycete or cup‐fungus and Small Stagshorn, Calocera cornea, one of the ‘jelly fungi’.
An energetic lady scrambled down the steep river bank to collect a fungus seen growing on a tree trunk which had fallen into the river. This was ‘shell‐shaped’ with the stipe attached to the edge of the cap (not central as in the usual mushroom) and with a light‐brown cap. I confidently (imprudently as it turned out) named this as Hohenbuehelia petaloides (no common name), the genus named in honour of an Austrian baron. The specimen seemed to fit an illustration of this in Roger Phillips book, ‘Mushrooms’ which Bruce Langridge had brought for reference. However, when I got home I saw that it had deposited a brown spore‐print which meant it was not a Hohenbuehelia as this has white spores. Once home a more careful look at the specimen and by keying out using other books this was determined as Oyster Rollrim, Tapinella panuoides.
Both of these species are uncommon and this is the first time I remember seeing Tapinella panuoides (it used to be called Paxillus panuoides). As luck would have it I found H. petaloides in early December in a dune slack at Cefn Sidan. This was probably growing on buried wood. I have collected this once previously, in November 1995 from ‘Pembrey dunes’ and sent the specimen to Kew for confirmation.
Slime moulds or myxomycetes are studied by mycologists but belong to the Kingdom Protozoa and not to the Kingdom Fungi. A yellow slime mould on rotten wood, when seen under a hand lens, was shown to be a cluster of beads on short stalks. Pink beads of another slime mould, Lycogala terrestre (which translates as ‘Wolf’s Milk), was on dead wood.
Meanwhile, Nigel Stringer who had been collecting rust fungi, explained the complex life‐cycle of rusts and how these fungi are so host‐specific that it might be possible to trace their affinities to particular plant species or families as a supplement to molecular (DNA) studies. Despite the low diversity of plant species in the conifer plantation, twenty rust/host records were recorded for the site, which is a good total. Severe rust infections were present on all the ferns but especially so on Hard‐fern Blechnum spicant and Broad Buckler‐fern Dryopteris dilatata, which was probably due to the wet autumn in 2011.
Three grasses growing alongside the Forestry track were also heavily rust infected. The Crown rust Puccinia coronata, occurred on both Yorkshire–fog Holcus lanatus and Common Bent Agrostis capillaris and Sweet Vernal‐grass Anthoxanthum odoratum was severely infected with Puccinia brachypodii var. poae‐nemoralis. The rust on Anthoxanthum normally dies out during late summer when the host dies but this year, due to the favourable weather conditions, Anthoxanthum has survived well into the autumn.
However, the find of the day was a rust on Smooth‐stalked Sedge Carex laevigata (plant det. by Andrew Stevens), growing as an extensive stand on disturbed ground adjacent to the stream. This rust belongs to the Puccinia caricina complex and has until recently only been recorded on higher plant herbarium specimens deposited at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh and Kew. The only field record for this rust is from Kent made in 2003 by Jo Weightman (Fungal Records Database) so the Carmarthenshire record is a very important find.
As the rain became more persistent, we all thought a family with a young child had gone home. Not a bit of it. They had gone further into the forest finding enough Chanterelles Cantherellus cibarius for a good meal
Philip Jones and Nigel Stringer