Monday, 2 November 2015

Strangeness in Paradise

This autumn seems to have a great one for fungi - and on a walk through through a wood next to a quiet stretch of the River Don we came across a whole range of mushrooms and fungi in all sorts of strange, wonderful forms.

Paradise Wood is a mainly deciduous woodland on the south bank of the river and on a north facing slope.  As a result it gets much less sunlight than the woods on the opposite bank and is almost always cool and damp.  Wonderfully untended, there's lots of standing and fallen dead wood, leaf litter and the proximity of the River Don - all of which must favour the conditions fungi thrive in.

Fungi identification isn't my strong point -  it's been fun trying to identify the unfamiliar species we saw but I'm not sure I've got them all correct and there a couple I can't identify, so if you know your mushrooms - please leave a comment!

In the damp grass by the side of the path we came across this striking inky-purple mushroom which seems to be Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystina). 

Keeping the colourful theme going, a fallen pine trunk was home to several Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa); the colour of which was really vibrant. The Linnaean name translates as "beautiful waxy - viscous/sticky"...which neatly sums up this small fungus which grows only on rotting wood.

I think this is a Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarius) although it's not dark grey like most of the Hoofs we see on Birch trees. 

On the stump of a fallen Beech tree was this strikingly white fungus.  I can only tentatively guess that it's one of the Pleurotus species; I've never seen a fungus quite as pure white in colour.

This group of large mushrooms emerging from a split in the bark of a tree is one of the ones I can't identify.  The fruiting bodies seemed to be climbing over each other to get to the best spot......

This Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) had grown on a Birch trunk after the tree had been blown over; it was at ninety degrees to both trunk and the other, older Polypores on the tree.

I think this is a group of Sulphur Tufts (Hypholoma fasciculare), again on a fallen Birch tree.  These mushroom specialise in consuming the cellulose content of the wood, and die away after a few years once the timber is reduced to a lignin core - then other lignin specialists in the fungi world move in.

This priapic fellow is another mushroom I can't identify, just a single specimen which seemed to be growing from a buried tree branch under the leaf litter and moss.

This I think is Artist's Bracket Fungus (Ganoderma applanatum), so called because the white underside can be scratched with a sharp point to leave brown marks.  It's a specialist on fallen hardwood branches and that's exactly where we found these two.

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are edible and cultivated varieties can be found in supermarkets - but I'm not confident enough to eat any wild fungus I can't absolutely identify given the toxicity of some of them!

Perhaps the most spectacular fungus we encountered were these golden yellow, fleshy, almost alien-looking large fruiting bodies growing on a felled Oak trunk -  I think that they may be Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum).  Given that it was Hallowe'en on the day we took this walk we thought that they looked suitably otherworldly!

It had been a fascinating walk and a real treat to encounter all the strange fungi....but after all the strangeness in Paradise it was nice to walk back up the track and out into the autumnal sunshine!


  1. Since we had a very wet year here in Ohio the woods and river banks are brimming with strange fungi as well. A few are showing up in the last of the farmers' markets courtesy of some foragers. Wonderful pictures as always.

  2. Thanks Dan - the "summer" in Scotland this year was very damp and cool. In fact the first couple of days of November have been more like summer than the actual thing in Aberdeenshire!

    Good to see you back blogging!

  3. Hi Ian, we were out a couple of weeks ago picking mushrooms, deep into the Island forests. We stuck with the one we know best...chanterelles. Also found one big cauliflower but left it. Returned home with lots and lots...very delicious, and VERY expensive to buy in store. :) Warm wishes. Duncan.

  4. PS Last autumn, in Scotland, we found lots and lots of what we were convinced were chanterelles when we were walking in a forest near Glen Clova. We took the "conservative and cautious" approach and resisted the temptation. But I'm sure they were safe. Next time we're there, at this time of the year, we'll look again. :)

    1. Hi D & J, free food sounds fantastic.... I really must brush up on my mushroom identification skills!

      Warm wishes