Fungus of the month
Common Eyelash Fungus
Distinctive fungi to look for each month
by John Haughton
John is a volunteer with the Corby Woodland Project and Wildlife Trust BCN. He volunteers in the three areas of ancient woodland in Corby, but spends most of his time in King’s Wood close to where he lives. He has led several guided walks for Rockingham Forest Vision, sharing his enthusiasm for fungi. On these pages, as the months go by, he describes some of the most significant fungi that you may find in the wooded areas of Rockingham Forest.
JULY– Common Eyelash Fungus - Scutellinia scutellata
This month I have chosen a very small fungus which I first found because it was close to a larger, more obvious fungus. They can be seen from late spring to late autumn, so keep looking and you might see some.
The Common Eyelash Fungus can be easily overlooked - this tiny cup fungus grows in damp places on rotting wood. The ones I found in King's Wood were in the bottom of a ditch that is very wet in rainy weather.
They grow up to 10mm across, but more commonly 3 to 5mm, and are typically only 2 to 4mm tall. They are shiny on the upper (hymenial or spore-bearing) surface and vary in colour from orange through to a very deep red inside the cup. A fringe of dark brown eyelash-like hairs surrounds the rim of the cup.
Occasionally solitary, it is more often found in clusters on rotting wood or soil, most of the time in damp places and sometimes lost amongst moss.
The shallow cups, which become almost flat when fully mature, are initially round but often develop irregular margins as they push up against their neighbours, as can be seen in two of the photographs above. All the pictures were taken in King’s Wood, Corby
AUGUST – Fairy-Ring Champignon - Marasmius oreades
This fairly common mushroom is also known as the "fairy-ring mushroom;" since it often fruits in rings on lawns, in meadows, and in other grassy places such as parks. The fairy ring created by this mushroom can often be seen with a central area of normal grass, with next a ring of brown or dead vegetation and an outer ring of grass, often more lush and where the mushrooms generally fruit.
A mycologist, Roy Watling, suggests that the lush area of grass is due to the actively growing mycelium freeing up nitrogen which the grass takes up. The dead area is due to a different action of the mycelial threads which in this case have filled the air spaces in the soil inhibiting water flow and killing the grass. The picture below although not a complete ring shows this. (Although not very clearly.)
These pictures are of a partial fairy ring on the road side close to King’s Wood. These fungi have fruited two or three times every year despite being mowed, by the council, at least twice a year from when I first saw them in 2011.
The fungi are between 2cm and 5cm across starting off convex then, flattening with a broad lump (umbo) in the centre of the cap and becoming roughly bell shaped. They are initially pale in colour becoming an orangey-ochre or tan, drying buff or cream. They have a smooth cap and the gills are fairly widely spaced, starting off white and later becoming cream. See the picture below.
Pat O’Reilly from the First-Nature web site suggests that this fungus has been called a resurrection mushroom. This is due to the ability it has to dry out completely in hot sunny weather and yet, reflate and regain its shape and colour after a shower of rain.
Not only does the reconstituted mushroom look like a fresh fruitbody but it is also able to create new cells and to produce new spores. This is apparently due to this and other Marasmius fungi containing a high concentration of the sugar trehalose, which prevents catastrophic cell damage when the fruitbodies dry out.