Thursday, 2 January 2014

Earth-stars (Geastrum triplex) in Cumbria

December 2013:
A small deciduous coppice close to the waxcap site (mentioned earlier) in northern Cumbria had the Collared Earth-star (Geastrum triplex). These spectacular fungi, whilst widespread in Britain, are also quite scarce. As the fruiting bodies develop in the autumn, an outer covering initially protects the rounded fruiting sac inside but on maturity this opens out forming a series of retracted rays to reveal the inner sac. As rain falls on the newly exposed sac or the wind disturbs it, spores are released through the central orifice. A pale area around the orifice helps to distinguish it from species of other similarly-sized earth-star. These were found in leaf litter and are not easy to see initially.

Prior to opening

Rays now expanded

Rare fungi in Cumbria

October 2014:
A small area of old unimproved grassland east of Penrith had two especially rare fungi: Clavaria zollingeri and Hygrocybe calyptriformis. Both of these species are considered to be endangered with Britain holding more than half the world population of the latter. At least twelve species of waxcap (Hygrocybe spp.) were recorded at the site including the commoner H. psitticanus (Parrot Waxcap) which possesses a greenish colouration which, unusual in fungi.

Clavaria zollingeri
Hygrocybe calyptyriformis
Hygrocybe psitticanus