Our first meeting was held on 7th September several weeks before we usually start our autumn season as we wished to see the very rare Amanita ovoidea, The Bearded Amanita. A Mediterranean species only found regularly in Britain on St Boniface Down and is found in association with Holm Oak. A very steep climb was required from the Industrial Estate but we were delighted to see it thriving and were able to see it in all stages. At the time of planning this meeting we were not expecting to see any other fungi as it is usually too dry, but we had a very wet summer and some other species were found. What was particularly interesting, and unexpected, was to see a number of normally woodland fungi growing in open grassland and clearly associated with Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularia). In all 23 species were identified including two identified by specialists, Boletus radican (Boletus albidus) under Holm Oak identified by Alan Hills and Entoloma incanum, Mousepee Pinkgill, confirmed by Alan Outen.
Our next meeting was on 4th October at America Woods, a site we have not visited before as a group as car parking is a problem. In all 38 species were identified including fine specimens of the Earthball, Scleroderma citrinum with Boletus parasiticus growing on it. This is a common sight in these woods. We also had two species of Amanita, Amanita citrina, False Deathcap and Amanita phalloides, The Deathcap. The latter is very aptly named. The Deceivers were well represented with Laccaria laccata, The Deceiver and Laccaria amythstea, Amethyst Deceiver. Phallus impudicus, The Stinkhorn, was also seen; the only other time this was found during the season was at Firestone Copse.
The next meeting was our annual foray with Alan Outen again identifying the specimens for us. This year a very knowledgeable group from the Hampshire Fungi Group joined us. The morning session concentrated on the south of the wood and the afternoon, north to the Old Mill Pond. In total 216 species were recorded in Firestone Copse many of them species that we (IWNHAS members) are unable to identify for ourselves – resupinates in particular and also tiny Mycena and related species. We were particularly pleased to see Clavariadelphus pistillaris, Giant Club, and Craterellus cornucopiodes, Horn of Plenty. The Giant Club looks just like a miniature version of the Giants Club illustrated in children’s fairy stories. This was the first year I had seen this species. I have seen The Horn of Plenty, a black fungus, in the same area for some years now. The next day some of us went to Bonchurch Landslip and a further 103 species were identified by Alan Outen during the morning. In all, a total of 30 new records were identified during the weekend.
On 1st November we met at Jubilee National Trust car park on a very overcast morning for foray at Westover. It soon started to pour with rain and, although, we were under the trees for the most part, the meeting was abandoned after about an hour. We mainly searched for fungi under Beech trees which had turned a beautiful colour. Conifer stumps were also seen. Despite the fact we had a sharp frost a few days before the meeting and some of the fungi were rather dry we identified 30 species. Bjerkandera adusta, Smoky Bracket, was well represented and Clitocybe nebularis, Clouded Agaric, as well as Collybia dryophila, Russet Toughshank. Margaret Nelmes found a fine specimen of Geastrum sessile, Sessile Earthstar just before we abandoned the meeting.
Our next meeting was at Mark’s Corner on a dry, mild morning. The tree cover mainly consisted of Beech, Sweet Chestnut and Oak and, although, we had to work hard to find the fungi 55 species were identified. Hemimycena tortuosa, the tiny white Mycena found in Robin Wood last year was also seen here this time. 12 other Mycena were identified. The Russulas seem not to be much in evidence during our forays this year, having fruited early, but we managed to find Russula mairei, Beechwood Sickener, and Russula ochroleuca, Ochre Brittlegill. Two Boletes were seen, Boletus cisalpinus (chrysenteron), Red Cracking Bolete, and Boletus pruinatus, Matt Bolete, and particularly fine specimens of Ganaderma adspersum, the Southern Bracket. A very striking pink slime mould was admired but not identified. It looked like a miniature alien spacecraft on many long stilts and was probably a species of Stemonitis.
Mill Copse was our next meeting; the last time we visited was in 1992 when the midges were out in profusion. This time we were free from these biting insects, as it was a very cold overcast morning. Mill Copse used to be predominantly conifer trees but since Wight Nature Fund has managed the site they have gradually been clearing them from the wood. Although some conifers remain there are also Oak, Hazel and Birch. Again, we had to work at finding fungi, however, 53 species were identified. The dominant species was Pseudoclitocybe cyathiformis, The Goblet, a late season fungus. Both the Wood Mushrooms were represented with Agaricus silvicola, The Wood Mushroom, and Agaricus silvaticus, The Blushing Wood Mushroom. A very photogenic clump of Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail, was seen on a stump and one rather dried up specimen of Tricholomopsis rutilans, Plums and Custard. In the car park a clump of Stropharia aurantiaca, Redlead Roundhead, was seen growing on wood chippings on 15th November at the end of IWNHAS winter walks bird meeting. However, they were no longer there on 29th November, the date of our fungi meeting. We did see Tubaria furfuracea, the Scurfy Twiglet, which is another characteristic wood chip fungus.
The last meeting on 14th December was a very wet affair with 6 stalwarts turning up for the meeting. It was decided to collect the specimens and then retire to the café for a coffee and identification session. Unfortunately, we had some very cold, frosty nights during the previous week and not many fungi were about. We were particularly interested in seeing what fungi would be found in the very specialist substrate of wood chippings and wood retaining walls at Ventnor Botanic Gardens which produces specialist fungi species but little was around although we did find Stropharia aurantiaca, Redlead Roundhead, which has a reddish cap and yellow gills with dark spores, the gill colour very reminiscent of Sulphur Tuft. A particularly fine specimen of Pleurotus ostreatus, Oyster Mushroom, was seen growing on the wood retaining walls by the glass house. A rather dried up specimen of Macrolepiota procera, the Parasol Mushroom had us fooled but Colin and Jillie took it home to look at the spore print. Two specimens of Geastrum triplex, Collared Earthstar, were unexpectedly found and nearby a small brown fungus with a very distinctive detached ring on the stem again was taken home by Colin and Jillie and identified as Conocybe rugosa, a specialist of wood chip cover. David saw Puccinia lagenophorae. This is a yellow rust fungus and seems to grow in some profusion on Groundsell and can easily be spotted. You may well have some in your garden or street.