Spring is almost in the air by Tony Carter

 Scarlet Elf Cup

 

February and March are not months when many higher fungi, the ones with a cap and stem, show themselves. One of the few that prefers the winter is Flammulina velutipes (Velvet Shank) which can stand being frozen.

An attractive orange fungus with a black velvety stem, it is very common, sometimes in large groups growing on fallen trees and stumps.

Flammulina velutipes (Velvet Shank)
Flammulina velutipes (Velvet Shank)

 

There are still a lot of other types of fungi. Brackets and crusts start to shed their spores in winter and can be found on and often under dead wood. Winter is a time for log rolling to see what has hidden away from cold weather.

A lot of microfungi also hide away. Some are tiny cup fungi, some look like small black spots peeping from under bark or on dead stems. All are Ascomycetes which shoot their spores from a tube (ascus) like a gun. Difficult to see properly without a good magnifying glass, when seen under a microscope one wonders why such attractive fungi are so tiny. Who or what is the display for? Two of the more common species are Bisporella citrina (Lemon Disco) and Lachnum virgineum (Snowy Disco) (both photographed at x40).

 

Lemon Disco
Bisporella citrina (Lemon Disco)
Lachnum virgineum (Snowy Disco)
Lachnum virgineum (Snowy Disco)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One that does display and is one of the larger cup fungi is Sarcoscypha austriaca (Scarlet Elf Cup). This is also a dead wood fungus to be seen on fallen branches, trunks and stumps. It is common and to be found in most local parks and woods. It is an obvious and welcome sight at this drab time of year.

Sarcoscypha austriaca (Scarlet Elf Cup)
Sarcoscypha austriaca (Scarlet Elf Cup)

 

By Tony Carter

 

* Remember  you can submit your records of fungi via our website, iRecord or iNaturalist *