Sea Buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides is a shrub native to the east coast of Britain, from Scotland to E. Sussex. Elsewhere it has been planted, as at Cefn Sidan, Pembrey where it was planted by the Forestry Commission in the 1920s to stabilise the dunes in order to protect the conifer plantation.
Few fungi are associated with this shrub and, as the roots are capable of fixing nitrogen, the chemical nature of the ground is altered. One fungus which does grow on Sea Buckthorn, a bracket, is Fomitiporia hippophaeicola which has no common English name. For some years I have kept a lookout for this species although I was not sure what it looked like as few field guides show many ‘brackets’. It was only on the last day of January 2012 that, at last, I found this. Our young dog disappeared into a large impenetrable mass of Sea Buckthorn after rabbits. Our hearts sank as Diana and I had been at this spot for three hours last summer while the dog had enjoyed digging. Waiting, thirty minutes this time, gave me the chance to look for the fungus as well as the dog. There were a number of brackets, mainly on wood that had been damaged by wind or the flaying used to cut back this invasive shrub.
The largest bracket I found was 80mm across and the older brackets, which are perennial, were green as they were covered by algae. Smaller, younger brackets, free of such decoration are more buff to rust‐brown. A cut through a specimen shows concentric bands of pores, again showing the perennial nature as one layer of pores grows on another. These are a darker cinnamon‐brown.
Since finding this species I have looked at similar Sea Buckthorn thickets but seen none of these brackets. Perhaps it is not such a common fungus even where the substrate is abundant. However it is worth looking for, as it is a ‘bracket’ that can be named without microscopy.
As might be expected, most British records are from the east coast where Sea Buckthorn is native, with the Lincolnshire dunes having about half of these. This might mean that the fungus recorder for VC54 had his/her ‘eye‐in’ for this bracket. It must however be considered ‘uncommon’ with about 80 records for Britain and just two of these from south Wales, both from dunes at Merthyr Mawr, and one from Newborough, Anglesey. The first Welsh record is from 2003 and collected by Penny David.