The well-named Felt Saddle, Helvella macropus, found at Whippendell Wood at the end of September (photo by Alison)
Fungus Identification Group
We are a local fungi recording group affiliated to the British Mycological Society. We have about 30 members with a wide range of experience and skills, but who share a particular interest in fungi and foraying for fungi.
Some of us have microscopes and reference books to help with identification, some like to photograph fungi and others prefer to enjoy looking at, and sometimes putting a name to, fungi in the field.
Although some of us enjoy eating fungi, as a group this is not our focus. We are also mindful that our forays are often on private land, having obtained permission from the land owner. In these cases picking for eating is often not allowed.
We are always pleased to see newcomers. If you ever wanted an answer to the question "What are fungi?", you couldn't come to a better group. Why not come along to a foray and see what we do? We are happy to welcome new members at all levels of expertise, including children accompanied by an adult. (But if you want to bring a dog, you should check with the leader beforehand.)
Thinking About Eating Fungi? Heed This Warning
There are many types of fungi which can be eaten safely, but there are also some extremely poisonous species. There is NO simple method by which poisonous species can be distinguished from edible ones.
It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that unfamiliar fungus specimens should NOT be eaten, unless they have been identified carefully and with absolute certainty by a competent mycologist. Even with familiar species it is important to ensure material is fresh and in good condition if it is to be eaten.
Chanterelles seem to be having a good year in Herts. As well as the slightly more common Horn of Plenty (Cratellerus cornucopioides), at Northaw Great Wood we found the Sinuous chanterelle Pseudocraterellus sinuosus, which is similar but more frilly (photo by Claudi).
We had an enjoyable meeting at Sherrards Park Wood on 17 September, where the highlight for me was seeing the 2 parasitic fungi on Russula nigricans (Blackening brittlegill) - Asterophora parasitica (Silky piggyback) and Asterophora lycoperdoides (Powdery piggyback). Alison took a great photo of the latter.
At our meeting at Gobions Wood on 10 September, we found the small but strong-smelling fungus Phleogena faginea (Fenugreek puffball). I have a dried specimen several years old, and it still retains its strong smell.
We had an interesting and productive first meeting of our autumn programme at Bricket Wood at the end of August. Finds included 3 Cortinarius (webcaps) including Marsh webcap, Cortinarius uliginosus (pictured) a site speciality, with only one other known site in Herts.
The new meeting point is as follows:
St Stephen Parish Centre, Station Road, Bricket Wood, St Albans AL2 3PJ, grid ref. TL136021.
The calendar entry has been updated accordingly
Our autumn programme is now in the calendar (bottom right of home page if viewing on a pc, scroll to the bottom if using a phone or tablet). To view information on a meeting, click on the relevant date in the calendar. Click Read more to see all details including an aerial photo of the meeting point.
We had a display table at the Rickmansworth Festival last week. In spite of the time of year and the recent dryness, we did have a few “real” fungi (brackets and a selection from Sainsburys) but fortunately Steve was able to supplement these with his beautiful and amazingly lifelike models. We had quite a lot of interest from members of the public, with adults particularly asking about edibles, and children drawn to the brightly coloured and the strangely shaped.
We had an interesting and informative workshop on rusts and smuts on 7 May, with a brief description of their complicated lifecycles and an opportunity to look at a variety of specimens, including the smut on Cuckoo Pint / Lords & Ladies - Melanustilospora ari. This has been considered rare but with several recent finds, it may just have been overlooked. It causes black blotches on the leaves - but there are often black blotches on the leaves of this plant - but more tellingly it creates pustules on the undersurface of the leaf, see photo. So worth looking out for.
Six people including the leader, Kerry Robinson, were at this meeting, and they were accompanied by the assistant warden, John Rowley. It had been very dry beforehand, so the group concentrated on the damper areas near the ponds, where they found the rare asco-on-a-stalk Myriosclerotinia sulcatula (photo attached).