2016 programme

I have just added some spring events to the calendar (bottom right).  Members should have received details of these from our Treasurer, or via the newsgroup,


CS Heartwood Clitocybe_houghtonii.jpg

Interesting find on Heartwood foray

An interesting fungus we found at Heartwood is Clitocybe houghtonii (see photo by Claudi Soler).  From above it looks like one of those fairly nondescript off-white Clitocybes, but it has pale pink gills and is supposed to smell of tomatoes – some of us could smell it, some couldn’t.  Apparently, it is nationally uncommon but turns up quite often in Herts.



Chipperfield Common workshop

We were very lucky with the weather on 23 September. The morning was warm and dry while we were foraying, and we were able to make it back into the village hall with our specimens and sandwiches before the rain started pounding dramatically on the roof of the hall. The woods were pleasant with some magnificent old sweet chestnut trees.. And thanks to the sharp eyes of the 14 of us, we found a surprising number of fungi, including lots of russulas (Russula atropurpurea - Purple Brittlegill - being particularly abundant) and boletes.

Back in the village hall, our tutor, Geoffrey Kibby, explained a few of the recent name changes, in particular the recent splitting of the genus Boletus into several new genera, and the many scientific names for Rooting Shank, known to most of us as Xerula or Oudemansiella radicata. We compared our specimens of Russula atropurpurea to note the range of colours it can adopt. Geoffrey also alerted us to a potential problem In describing spore colour, which is a useful character for russulas; he showed us 2 samples, one where the spores were lying as they had fallen ie. quite thinly spread out on a slide, and the other with the same spores but scraped together into a pile, with a coverslip over them. The colour difference was dramatic. He also suggested using a colour chart such as the British Fungus Flora Colour Identification Chart to provide a little more objectivity into describing colours.

It was very useful to see several similar fungi together, to compare them – eg. Russula fellea and R. ochroleuca, and Russula langei, ionochlora and parazurea. Some authors think it is an extreme form of Russula cyanoxantha (The Charcoal Burner) but it has a different reaction with a ferrous sulphate crystal (goes green).

All in all, a most enjoyable and informative day; many thanks to Geoffrey for leading it, and Margaret and Steve for getting it all organised.


Autumn programme

Our autumn programme is now on the website calendar,


Autumn programme

Our autumn programme has been finalised, and has been sent out to members. If you are a member but have not yet received it, please contact Sandra Hayter. So far, only the first event (a workshop on 23 August) has been entered into the website calendar, but the other events will be loaded up shortly.


Great Grove Wood Foray

Fungi foray’s are not always wandering through the woods looking for specimens. Sometimes we take the time out to help our members take fungi identification to the next level. So, if you were tempted to think that a fungi foray was just a walk in the woods looking for mushrooms, you might be in for a surprise if you come along on one of our forays.

From time to time we like to share the more in-depth side of fungi identification and recording; something that’s more like a forensic investigation than a casual visual identification.

Fungi species are incredibly diverse and often difficult to identify by a casual inspection, that’s when we have to resort the looking at fungi at the microscopic level. On our foray to Great Grove Wood we had the opportunity to share this side of investigation with other members.Many species are difficult to identify by casual visual inspection alone. Even within the same species it can be hard to figure out exactly which one it is as color spore print or examine the fungus under a microscope; then the truly extraordinary world of fungi reveals itself. The amazing detail and structure of some species are a wonder to behold.

The recent foray to Great Grove Wood is an excellent example of where we helped our group members takes a fungi foray to the next level. The site we visited allowed us to set up an area to examine our finds more closely under a microscope and share that experience with the other members. Not everyone has a good microscope at home and so one of our members brought their’s along for the day.

You could say that on occasions with very difficult species the process of determination becomes more of a forensic fungi identification process. Comparing what we see under the microscope with known characteristics and even example photographs.

Once you’ve been on a few forays, you’ll come to realize that much of the fungi kingdom is unseen; hidden from prying eyes and often difficult to spot, especially when young. It’s easy to wander through the woods and spot the caps of the larger fruiting fungi, not so much the smaller and often much more interesting species. Only by slowing down and really exploring a small area of the forest floor will you fully appreciate just what part fungi plays in the lifecycle of our forests and woodlands.


UK Fungus Day at Ashridge

Ashridge was the ideal venue for this event: a SSSI site half in Bucks, half in Herts, a large expanse of mature mixed woodland with good grassland areas too, also a very popular destination for recreation having car parks and excellent facilities including a café and shop within the NT building complex where our display was to be held.

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