Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - No. 74 - July 2008
Phillip Jones

As a result of the unusual weather, dry spring and a very wet summer, some fungi have been seen at odd times of the year.

It had been quite dry before the Troserch Wood walk (April 21st), to explore sings of spring, so few fungi were expected to be found.  After a careful look among clumps of Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa), a few Anemone Cup fungi (Demontinia nemorosa) were found, a true sign of spring as these are not found at other times of the year.  This cup fungus on a long stalk is uncommon and I have looked for it many times but this is the first time I have collected it.  It is attached to anemone rhizomes so found among rather than on the plants. Someone spotted a large grey blob on a tree trunk some way off the ground. This was the slime-mould Enteridium lycoperdon, a myxomycete so not a ‘proper’ fungus.  The Blusher (Amanita rubescens) is a proper mushroom and an unexpected find so early in the year. 

Wenallt, (July 7th meeting) has some very wet areas (summer rains having helped) and a few ‘waxcaps’ were present in pastures including Bitter Waxcap (Hygrocybe mucronella) and Fibrous Waxcap (H. intermedia). In the corner of one field a huge Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus) was on an Ash together with Cramp Balls (Daldinia concenrtica). The three advertised Fungus Walks were very well attended, really too many for just one ‘leader’ but shows the increasing interest in this ‘Kingdom’.

At Ffrwd Fen the Marsh Pea did very well but the Marsh Honey-fungus (Armillaria ectypa) did not have a good year as the fen remained so wet.  However this fungus was seen on 6th July and again in early October but only two and three fruiting bodies.    

The Yellow Brain on gorse. Photo:  Philip JonesThe Ashpits, Burry Port, continues to produce nice fungi.  Girdled Knight (Tricholoma cingulatum) was abundant from mid-October to mid-December.  The associated parasite, the flower Yellow Birds-nest (Monotropa hypopitys ssp. hypophegea), has also done well and is spreading in this area.  This flower has been added to the Red Data List. A succession of interesting fungi can be found at the Ashpits.  Over winter, particularly in wet weather, several ‘jelly’ fungi can be found including Yellow Brain (Tremella mesenterica), Leafy Brain (T. foliacea), Exidia recisa, and Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) which all occur on branches of various trees.  Early in the year the brightly coloured Scarlet Elfcup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) is on fallen branches and Alder Goblet Ciboria caucus, similar in appearance to the Anemone Cup but, growing on fallen Alder catkins.  In summer a small reddish disc can be found on the ash-soil and Brian Spooner at Kew has named this as Pulvinula miltina, a species first described from New Zealand in the 1800’s with just six previous UK records, the first in 1994 and this the first for Wales.

On a walk in Pembrey Forest on December 14th, I came across two Salmon Salad fungi Guepinia helvelloides.  As the name implies, this has a salmon colour and is edible.  A close relative is Jelly Ear Auricularia auricula-judae, which is also edible and both must have a crunchy texture but not much taste!  It is a conspicuous fungus but quite rare.  The first UK record is in the 1890’s and the next in 1914.  After that there are records from 1972 over a wide part of the UK with about 150 finds to date.  I have found it in Pembrey Forest before, in 1991 and 1994 but not in exactly the same spot.

Interesting fungi can be found throughout the year --- why not see what you can find?