Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - September 2007 - No 73
Phillip Jones

John Rees and Noel King of Laugharne collected a strange-looking growth on a large Camellia in June 2005 and sent it to Denys Smith who then passed it on to me.  As I was unable to identify it (although I knew it was a gall) I, in turn, showed it to Nigel Stringer and we determined it as Exobasidium camellinae. This species was first recorded in 1959 in southwest England from where it has slowly spread, though it is far from common.  There are only three other Welsh records. John Rees formerly worked in the Experimental Establishment at Pendine and, for at least thirty years, supplied plant records from inside the Establishment and surrounding area to Richard Pryce for the Carmarthenshire Flora Project. Sadly he suffered a stroke last autumn and died at the end of July.  Our sympathies go to his family.

The rare Marsh Honey-fungus Armillaria ectypa, which grows at Ffrwd Fen, had a good year in 2005, fruiting from late June to early September.  In contrast, in 2006, it was only seen during a two-week period in July, ending when Britain experienced its hottest day for over a hundred years.  This species has also been re-found at its first UK site in Cumbria and in a couple of other localities.

Dr Philip Jones leading the fungus foray at the Woodland Trust’s reserve at Green Castle Woods, off the Llanstephan Road near Carmarthen on 23rd September 2006. Photo: Richard Pryce.In 2006, two fungus walks were held.  The first, on 23 September, was at Green Castle Woods, to the south-west of Carmarthen towards Llansteffan.  The dry weather meant that the variety was not at its best, but there was plenty to talk about.  The second meeting on 14 October had to be changed from Stradey Woods (where few fungi were to be seen on a `recce` by the author) to the Millennium Coastal Park area, just west of Pwll.

Many fungi were found in the Pwll Lagoon SSSI/LNR and adjacent woodland.  The wet lagoon is now open, as birch-willow scrub was cleared in late 2005, with some being burnt and others wood-chipped.  The woodchip sites had some interest, such as the large clump of Spectacular Rustgill Gymnophilus jujonius and also a pink-gilled fungus that I later determined as Pluteus petasatus, a new record for Wales.

On the other hand, the bonfire areas did not have many fungi, though earlier in the year, there had been a good succession of cup fungi such as Peziza petersii and the Charcoal Cup P. echinospora.  The remains of gorse, at one bonfire site, were covered in Split-gill Schizophyllum commune, a species that is often found on broken plastic-covered silage bales.

In the woodland area towards Burry Port, Girdled Knight Tricholoma cingulatum was just beginning to `fruit` around the remnants of Yellow Bird`s-nest Monotropa hypopitis flowers.  This area also had many large Lactarius contrversus, which, like T.cingulatum is mycorrhizal with Salix and uncommon.  Having seen these `treasures`, members returned back along the cycle track to their cars.

Some interesting species have been found on gorse in the old ash lagoon areas, including Resupinatus trichotis, a tiny bracket fungus with gills; Polyporus tuberaster – like Dryad`s Saddle, but smaller and Daldinia fissa, a small Cramp Ball that is not uncommon on burnt gorse. However, by far the most noteworthy find was Cortinarius vernus, which, as its name implies, occurs in spring.  There are just four UK records, of which three are in October and November!

Some interesting new publications have appeared in the past year. The updated and well-illustrated Mushrooms by Roger Philips is still perhaps, in my opinion, too large for fieldwork, even though it is slightly reduced in size.  It has been updated in terms of nomenclature.  The other is the long-awaited Checklist of the British and Irish Basidiomycota (ie gilled mushrooms and their allies).  This book offers brief descriptions of the habitats and localities where individual species have been noted.  However, these new publications are becoming out-of-date due to DNA analysis that results in name changes as their taxonomic relationships are better elucidated. The genus Coprinus has now been split into several new genera, with the Common Inkcap being given a new different generic name to the Shaggy Inkcap. Such is progress!