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Wykeham North Moor Fungus Foray 18th October 2005

led by Colin Stephenson

Helvella crispa

Ten members and guests met at Wykeham North Moor for our last outdoor meeting of the year, in rather gloomy, damp conditions. Sadly the weather up until now had been relatively dry, so there were not many fungi in evidence – and some of those we did see were rather dried up; also the slugs seemed to have been having a field day, and many specimens were badly damaged, in some cases hollowed out completely. We still recorded over 50 species (list below).

We met north of Wykeham village at the edge of the forestry, and welcomed our leaders Colin and Beryl Stephenson. Colin has been leading our fungus forays for many years and it is always a pleasure to see him and learn from his expertise. This is mostly an area of old moorland which has been afforested since the 1930s. The soil is generally poor and acid with some peat, so vegetation under the trees is mainly of heathers, bilberry and mosses. It has a rich fungal flora because of the trees, since many fungi grow in association with both coniferous and deciduous trees, especially on the roots, dead wood, leaf litter etc.

Colin first of all introduced us to the kingdom of Fungi, one of the principal divisions of life on a par with Animals and Plants. They are a fascinating group, living either as parasites or saprophytes, gaining their nourishment from living or dead matter respectively. The brackets or mushrooms/toadstools that we see are merely the spore-bearing “fruits” of the organism. The rest of the fungus exists as a mesh of threads or mycelium in the soil or other substrate such as bark or wood. Colin wisely stressed that some fungi are poisonous in varying degrees, that you should never eat any unfamiliar species, and that after a foray such as this you should wash your hands.

We then investigated the grassland around the car park, and under the trees, where we found several different kinds of fungi, including traditional toadstools or cap fungi, rusts and mildews on plants, and a representative of the cup fungi, Helvella crispa (see left). Colin memorably described this as reminding him of “A stick of celery with a saddle on top.” Just so. Colin showed us many different kinds of toadstool, explaining some of the tricks of the ID game: for example, one of the milk-caps that grows under birches produces a milky juice that turns yellow when dripped onto a clean white hanky. However, he did admit that fungi can be very difficult to identify down to species level, and in many cases one must use a microscope and/or various chemicals – he took several specimens home to his lab to determine. Some groups are apparently more difficult than others, with the Cortinarias being hard even for specialist mycologists – the rest of us would be delighted if we even got close to the genus!


The rest of the walk was in the forest, under both conifers and broadleaved trees, as these tend to have different fungal associates. Indeed, to be a competent mycologist you also need to be a good botanist, as recognising the host species is an important step in tracking down your fungus. For example the Amanita citrina shown right associates with beech and oak (I believe this specimen was under oak). Of course, it isn’t always that easy: for example we kept seeing specimens of one fungus that grows on dead wood on what seemed to be leaf litter – because the dead wood was buried a few inches below the surface...

We also saw bracket fungi and three different puffballs, showing the great variety of forms that fungal fruiting bodies can take. At last, as we returned to the car park we saw the archetypal pixie toadstool – the red-with-white-spots fly agaric Amanita muscaria that grows on tree-roots, usually birch. It’s a pity that such a beautiful thing should be poisonous!

At the end of the meeting Tom Denney thanked Colin and Beryl on behalf of the Ryedale Natural History Society for leading the excursion and teaching us so much.

Gill Smith, October 2005.
Photos by Rhona Sutherland.

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Species list

Many thanks to Colin and Beryl for the list.


Erysiphe heraclei on H.sphondylium and A.sylvestris leaves
Hypoxylon multiforme on fallen Betula
Microsphaera alphitoides on Quercus leaves
Xylaria hypoxylon on fallen Betula
Sphaerotheca epilobii on E.montanum
Kretzschmaria deusta on old Fagus stump

Helvella crispa in grass with Fagus
Rhytisma acerinum Acer leaves

Rhopographus filicinus on Pteridium

Amanita citrina with Fagus
Amanita citrina var alba with Fagus
Amanita muscaria with Pteridium and Abies
Amanita rubescens with Picea
Boletus chrysenteron with Quercus
Chalciporus piperatus with A.muscaria
Clitocybe clavipes with Quercus
Clitocybe gibba with Fagus
Clitocybe nebularis with Picea and Pinus
Clitopilus prunulus ride side
Collybia butyracea with Fagus and Picea
Collybia confluens with Fagus
Collybia peronata with Fagus
Cortinarius anomalus with conifer
Cortinarius semisanguineus with Calluna vulgaris
Entoloma conferendum on mossy lawn
Gymnopilus penetrans on fallen Pinus
Hypholoma fasciculare on deciduous stump
Inocybe eutheles with Picea
Inocybe geophylla with Fagus
Inocybe pudica with conifer
Laccaria amethystina with Fagus
Laccaria laccata with Fagus
Laccaria proxima with Pteridium
Lactarius blennius with Fagus
Lactarius fluens with Fagus
Lactarius quietus with Quercus
Lactarius subdulcis with Fagus
Lactarius tabidus with Betula
Lepista inversa with Picea
Mycena amicta with conifer
Mycena flavoalba on fallen Salix lvs in grass
Mycena pura with Fagus
Russula cyanoxantha with Quercus
Russula fellea with Fagus
Russula mairei with Fagus
Russula nigricans with Quercus
Russula ochroleuca with Fagus

Clavulina rugosa in lawn
Ganoderma applanatum on Fagus stump
Piptoporus betulinus on Betula
Skeletocutis amorpha on old conifer logs
Trametes versicolor on old deciduous stump
Trichaptum abietinum on Pinus stump

Calocera pallidospathulata on fallen conifer
Dacrymyces stillatus on fallen conifer

Handkea excipuliformis with conifer
Lycoperdon nigrescens with Picea
Lycoperdon perlatum with conifer

Melampsoridium betulinum on Betula leaves
Phragmidium violaceum on Rubus leaves

Colin R Stephenson
Recorder for Mycology
Scarborough Field Naturalists’ Society

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© Ryedale Natural History Society 2005, photos © Rhona Sutherland 2005
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