Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - December 2003 - No 70
Phillip Jones

Another truffle species was found this year.  Last year it was Hydnotria cubispora from Llyn Llech Owain (Llanelli Nats. Newsletter, 69: p.10) and this August White Truffle (Choiromyces meandriformis) was unearthed while weeding my tiny front garden in Burry Port.  Probably the first Welsh record for this species (awaiting confirmation from Kew) although it is more common and widespread in England. It is one of the largest of the British truffle species growing up to 8cm or 12cm across but my specimen was immature and much smaller (2.5cm).  It did, however, have a wonderfully heavy sweet perfume.  I attempted to excite pigs in a nearby field but they took little interest!  A brief account of truffles in South Wales was given in the Llanelli Nats. Newsletter, 65: pp.6-7, and at that time just five of 80 truffle species had been found. We now have seven so plenty more to find as this is still less than 10% of what might be out there!

During the year regular visits were made to Ffrwd to try and determine when Armillaria ectypa might be fruiting.  It was found during the first week of July (5th) when there were again many small clumps in compartment 8 of the reserve.  Heavy rain in mid July temporarily flooded the fen and afterwards no more specimens were found.  Dry weather followed allowing the farming contractor to cut reed in this compartment, as well as in the usual ‘hay-cut’ fields, drying out the fen even more.  A third site for A. ectypa was found last year.  This was in Ireland but Ffrwd still seems to have the best population as just a few specimens have been found at the other two sites.

Other fungi at Ffrwd are generally small but of no less interest.  Species found include Marasmius limosus, Psathyrella typhae and Mycena bulbosa on Common Reed (Phragmites australis) and other plant remains. A curious species was found sporulating from a dead spider and has been sent to Kew for identification.

Pwll Ash Lagoon SSSI and the adjacent area is another good site for fungi.  Leccinum scabrum is very common and associated with birch (Betula spp.).  A similar species but much less common and growing in wetter areas, is L. holopus, ivory white all over including the scales on the stipe. Tricholoma fulvum and Lactarius torminosus are also associated with birch; L. deliciosus with pine (Pinus spp.) and L. controversus with willow (Salix spp.).  Clitocybe odora, seen at the same spot for the past three years, has a beautiful green cap and a strong aniseed smell.  Laccaria tortillis, the smallest Deceiver, is uncommon.  Several Coprinus species are found frequently, including C. atramentarius, C. commatus, C. plicatilis and C. disseminatus.  Cortinarius trivialis has a very thick glutinous layer coating the cap and stipe making it easier to name than most in this large genus.  Pulvulina convexella is a small bright red ascomyte (cup-fungus) growing on burnt ground (at this site, pulverised fuel ash).

Giant Puff-ball (Langermannia gigantea) was found along Ffordd y Wagen, the path following the old tramway starting behind the Talbot, in May and Hebeloma radicosum in grassland close to ‘The Wave’ (Cefn Padrig) and also in Pembrey Forest. This latter species is interesting as it is said to grow from underground nests or latrines of mammals such as Moles, Field Mice, etc.

Fungus finding walks in October were well attended.  The first on 11th was at Pembrey Country Park and the second (18th) at Gelli Aur was a joint meeting with the Wildlife Trust.

At Pembrey we started from the Woodland Car Park as, due to the exceptionally dry weather, there were more fungi in this area than if starting from the Visitor Centre. Ple nty of wood-rotting fungi were seen including Mycena galericulata, Xylaria hypoxylon, Gymnopilus penetrans and Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea).  Honey Fungus is very common but this year clusters of this fungus were much more abundant than usual, even attacking Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides).  If only Armillaria could control this introduced shrub, but unfortunately it is said that it has some resistance to the fungus.  Other species found included Hygrophoropsis aurantia, Russula amara, Clitocybe nebularis, Coprinus commatus, C. plicatilis, Lycoperdon pyriforme and just one Earth Star (Geastrum triplex).

At Gelli Aur one does not need to walk far from the car park before reaching a fallen lime (Tilia), which supports a large number of fungi taking advantage of this feast: Coprinus micaceus, Pluteus cervinus, Gymnopilus penetrans, Mycena galericulata, hard brackets of Artist’s Fungus (Gannoderma applanatum) and smaller soft brackets of Merulius tremellosus.  Further on, other species included Leccinum scabrum (under birch), Paxillus involutus (under oak), Daedaleopsis confragosa (on willow), Oudemansiella mucida (on beech) and Xylaria polymorpha and X. hypoxylon on rotten wood.  As at Pembrey, extensive fruiting of Honey Fungus was seen.  As well as Armillaria mellea there were large clumps of A. ostoyae (with a bulbous base and darker brown cap).  Armillaria species are notoriously difficult to determine as field characteristics are very variable.  Unfortunately the lawn in front of the house had been mown the previous day so the few wax-cap fungi seen earlier in the week were no more!  Spared were some Clavulina rugosa, Cystoderma amianthinum, one Boletus chrysenteron and a Cordyceps militaris.  This species grows from lepidoptera larvae below ground and all one sees is one or more orange ‘pokers’ protruding through the grass or moss.

During the past year some fungi have fruited well (Armillaria) but long months of dry weather seem to have had an adverse effect on the grassland fungi, few of which have been found.

References

Bon. (1987).  Mushrooms and Toadstools of  Britain and North-western Europe.

Pegler, Spooner and Young. (1993).  British Truffles.