Updated September 2021
This page is a catalogue of the fungi, slime moulds and lichen that have been found in Childwall Woods and Fields.
Fungi are a separate kingdom of living things, different from animals and plants. They feed on organic material, reproduce by means of spores and present themselves in a variety of beautiful shapes, sizes and colours. Biologists have identified over 100,000 different types of fungus, and depending on the season many can be found in Childwall Woods and Fields.
Slime moulds are a group of single-celled organisms that live separately and come together to reproduce. They are not part of the fungi kingdom but their fruiting bodies often suggest they are related.
Lichens are part of the fungi kingdom but contain elements of bacteria in a mutualistic relationship. They are plantlike but do not have roots to absorb nutrients as plants do, growing on bark, stone, walls, roofs, and many other surfaces in many different environments. Barely visible to the human eye, but stunning when magnified to show the intricacies of their hidden world.
Everything on this page has been identified as accurately as possible however with so many species existing, errors are inevitable. Let me know if you spot anything you think may be wrongly identified. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fungi, slime moulds and lichen 2021
Spectacular Rustgill, Gymnopilus junonius
The spectacular rustgill is so called as it can grow to a spectacular 30cm across. These were much smaller however but spectacular in their colour and form. These mushrooms have a slightly scaly surface and are growing out of the old fallen tree on the top field. This is a very wet area and perfect for this type of mushroom.
Hairy Curtain Crust, stereum hirsutum.
A plant pathogen on living wood but also found on dead wood as seen here, where it has covered the cut surface of a tree stump.
This fungus is often mistaken for Turkey tail fungus but has a slightly hairy top surface and wider pores than Turkey tail. However, it is often called false turkey tail because of the similarity.
Tapioca Slime Mould, Brefeldia maxima
This slime mould gets its name from its resemblance to the milky white desert it resembles.
Within days these tiny white balloon structures that are slightly bigger than a pinhead will join together and form a crust until the spores underneath are ready to be released, then it will crumble to nothing.
If you look closely at dead bark after the rain, you may see this or other similar slime moulds at this time of year.
Pantha Cap, Amanita pantherina
An uncommon mushroom, found twice in Childwall Woods this year. If you look closely you will notice the resemblance to its relative the red fairy tale mushroom the fly agric that has the same speckled appearance on the cap.
This tiny, shiny mushroom has a symbiotic relationship with the beech tree it was found under, where it has a mutual symbiotic relationship with the tree. That simply means that the tree and the fungi rely on each other to bring in water and sugars through their networks of roots and mycelium underground.
The Pantha cap is known to prefer beech trees as its partner, and fits perfectly into the ecosystem of our deciduous woods.
Dog vomit slime mould, Fuligo septica.
This attractively named slime mould is often seen on the bark of trees during August after heavy rain.
If you look closely at the edges of the mould you will see tiny hair-like feelers reaching out as it very slowly moves across the bark locating a source of food.
This specimen is past its prime and will soon turn to dust-like spores and disperse in the wind to colonise another tree when the conditions are right.
Yellow Brain, Tremella mesenterica
This is a common jelly fungus that is edible if you find this kind of thing appetising.
It looks as if it might be living off the tiny dead branch shown here, but it is actually a parasite, living off the fungus that is living off the branch. The fungus it is living on is just visible poking out from under the yellow brain.
Alder tongue gall, Taphrina alni.
This fungus is a plant pathogen that attacks only the female catkins of the alder tree. It pushes out like a long red tongue before withering in winter.
Not a common fungi but quite common on the elder on Childwall Fields.
It doesn’t seem to harm the tree just the catkin that it has infected.
The Common Earthball, Scleroderma citrinum.
Earth balls have indeed been common in Childwall Woods this year. These small round fungi resembling warty potatoes and can be seen growing all around the woodlands. Their spores are inside and change from white to deep purple as they mature. Eventually, when fully mature, the top of the earthball cracks open and allows the wind and rain to disperse its precious content, its spores.
These are one of the few species in the woods that will make you very ill if eaten.
Smokey Brackets, Bjerkandera adusta
These pretty little brackets might be mistaken for Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametese Versicolor) from the top but a glance underneath will show its true colours. This smokey bracket is a white rot pathogen able to kill live trees but found most often on dead ones. The grey shading underneath is a clue to its darker side.
However, this little bracket has properties that are very good at breaking down synthetic textile dyes and is under research for possible use in bioremediation.
Silky Rosegill, Volvariella bombycina
Also known as the Tree Mushroom which is where this specimen was found, in the hollow of a dead tree trunk. It begins developing in a thin egglike sac which it breaks through but the sac remains as a volva.
The cap of this mushroom has silky filaments and the gills turn rose pink as it ages. This was one of a dozen that appeared in the log.
A rare and beautiful mushroom known to have antibacterial properties.
Oyster Mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus
The oyster mushrooms are always the first species to spread across a fallen branch or felled tree trunk. The ones shown here are on the tree stump by the start of the carriageway and were delicious. (Don’t ever eat mushrooms unless you are certain they are edible).
The oyster mushroom is often used commercially in mycoremediation as it is very good at removing toxic substances from polluted land.
Scarlatina Bolet, Neoboletus luridformis
A large mushroom of the Bolet family with red pores when young and looking slightly like it has a rash on the cap. A rare sighting in Childwall woods. These were by the Ha-ha.
Dryads Saddle, Cerioporus squamosus
A white rot bracket. Found on dead and living trees where it attacks the heartwood. Quite a regular visitor to the woodpiles in our woods.
The Birch Polypore, Fomitopsis betulina
This bracket is found only on birch trees, which is where it gets its name. The top is greyish brown while the underneath is creamy white and covered with tiny pores that release the spores.
It is a parasitic fungus causing brown rot in trees and often their demise.
Honeycomb Coral Slime Mould, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
This delicate slime mould is made up of bunches of tiny white tubes. It can be seen on rotting wood if you look very closely where it lives off the partially broken down structure of the wood. It is however not responsible for the rot, just taking advantage of it.
Unlike the slime moulds shown last year, these tubes do not grow out on tiny stalks like stemonitis ( shown below) but grow in bunches almost like tiny flowers.
This slime mould was found on the fallen tree by the bird feeders but was already deliquescing (turning to liquid).
Wood ear, Auricularia auricula-judae
A familiar fungus throughout the woods growing on weakened branches. This little group are showing their undersides as they are on a fallen branch.
Often used in Chinese cuisine and medicine, but beware they should never be eaten raw.
A cluster of brackets, members of the Ganoderma family.
Too high in the tree to see the top but looking suspiciously like very young artist brackets, Ganoderma applanatum. White when young but turning brown with age. This wood rot fungus grows on living and dead trees, causing the heartwood to rot and eventually the tree to hollow.
Ganoderma applanatum has been used in Asian medicine for centuries but is inedible in its raw form.
This is a much older specimen showing last years growth. Covered in brown spores tiny as dust particles.
The underneath surface downy and white. Known as the Artists bracket as the underneath is a good medium for etchings which are preserved by drying.
Shield Lichen Parmelia sulcata
You will find this little lichen on twigs throughout the woods and fields and is produced by algae and fungus working together in a symbiotic relationship.
The tiny rosette that you will find on many branches is a colony of microorganisms made up of both algae and fungus. The algae turn sunlight into carbohydrates for the fungi and receive some nutrients and vitamins back in return.
These wonderful slow-growing colonies are widespread throughout the world and some have been found that are 5000 years old.
Polyporus varius, also known as Cerioporus varius.
This is a bracket fungus typically growing on a broken branch on the ground, choosing areas with no bark.
It is saprobic, living off dead wood and is recognisable by its large open pores underneath the cap. The stem turns black as it ages but these must be very young specimens as there is no blackening yet.
Late winter and early spring are the best times to see this but look carefully, they are not often found.
Scarlet Elfcup, Sarcoscypha austriaca
This small scarlet cup fungus is drawing its nutrients from wood beneath the ground. It is saprobic, living on fallen branches. Saprobic fungi is essential in the cycle of breaking down dead wood and returning the nutrients to the soil. March is the peak time of year to see these bright cups which lie low near to the ground where it is mossy and damp.
Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parientina
This beautiful orange/yellow lichen is one of the Sunburst Lichens.
Its tiny cups are barely visible on the branches where it lives on the oak trees of the top field.
In a sunny position, this lichen will produce more of its orange chemical which acts as a UV filter against the sun. If in a shaded area it will revert to green.
This beautiful lichen can be found on branches and stones all over the site for everyone to see. You have to look closely though.
Velvet Shank, Flammulina velutipes
Velvet shank grows in colonies on old, compromised trees, in winter. Its cap is a dark orange but its velvety stipe turns dark brown as it matures.
These were high on a large beech tree where the mycelium extracts the nutrients it needs to produce these fruiting bodies.
Another bracket fungi in the family of Trametese meaning ‘thin’. These are very young fruiting bodies of this fungus and they will go on to form fan-shaped brackets with a rough, open, tooth-like underside.
Turkey Tail – Trametese Versicolor
Named for its similar appearance to the tail of a wild turkey.
A widely seen fungi distinguishable by the bands of colour on each fan, which can be a variety of colours but always white on the edge. It always grows in clumps and rows and its mycelium lives off the dying wood.
This particular stalkless mushroom has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.
Purple Jellydiscs, Ascocoryne sarcoides
A fungus often seen in the woods on dead trees and is the fruiting body of the mycelium living inside the wood.
Studies have shown that A. sarcoides wards off other pathogenic fungi and can live inside the tree causing no harm until the tree ages and begins to die then it will begin t break down the wood to return the nutrients to the soil. Perfect recycling.
Hairy Curtain Crust, Stereum hirsutum
This family of fungi are saprobic, living on dead wood, and can be seen throughout the woods. Its underside is smooth, without pores and the fan shapes fruiting bodies often fuse together.
Dead Moll’s fingers, Xylaria Longipes
These tiny black protrusions are a species of fungus and were growing from under the bark on the old felled tree near the main gate to the woods. Slimmer than ‘Dead Mans Fingers’ which were spotted last year.
This fungus is found mostly on fallen deciduous trees.
These were the first hardy fungus to appear on site this year.
The cooler, wetter weather is perfect for some fungi and slime moulds to bloom.
The Olive Oysterling (Sarcomyxa serotina)
Often called the Late Oysterling as it appears more often in the later months of the year. Gills on the underside show it is related to the oyster mushroom family and it too likes rotting deciduous trees.
There is a whole group of these mushrooms growing down the side of a very old birch tree near to the path.
Bitter if eaten but is thought to have therapeutic properties by Japanese researchers.
Honeycomb Coral Slime Mould (Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa)
Regularly found on rotting wood, and doesn’t seem to mind the season. (Described in more detail above)
This slime mould was found on the fallen branch off one of our Veteran Sweet Chestnut trees.
Split Gill, (Schizophyllum commune) is a tiny fuzzy bracket that emerges after rains in the warmer months. It was in the same spot in 2019, and in July 2020.
Here it is growing as rosettes but is more usually seen as fuzzy little brackets.
It is a saprobic fungus breaking down the lignin in the wood.
This tiny mushroom is prized in many countries for its medicinal properties and is being researched for its immunomodulatory, antifungal, antineoplastic and antiviral properties.
A very unusual but beautiful little fungus.
The Veiled Oyster Mushroom ( Pleurotus Dryinus – tephrotrichus)
A relative of the oyster mushroom that you might buy in Tesco. This unusual saprobic mushroom is growing from the decaying wood on an old horse chestnut tree. Slight remnants of a veil remain on the rim of the cap and its downy grey cap will flatten and widen with age. Notice the recurrent gills running down the stem.
Common Bonnets, ( Mycena galericulata)
Bonnets can be seen all over the woods covering fallen branches and logs, especially where the bark has fallen off and its mycelium can penetrate the wood. It is a saprobic mushroom living off dead and dying wood, breaking it down so that the nutrients it doesn’t want are returned to the soil.
These beautiful mature specimens were growing from a very old sweet chestnut branch on the ground by one of our veteran trees
White Saddle (Helvella Crispa) can be found under beech trees at the end of summer where it is thought to have a mutually beneficial relationship with the tree. The mycelium from the fungi connecting to the roots of the tree to bring in more water and nutrients and taking nutrients that the tree does not need for itself.
It prefers to be by busy paths and this one can be found under a large beech tree next to the main path through the woods where it seemed to like the dryness of the beech nut cases.
It has a broad saddle-shaped cap and there are large holes in the stem which makes it easy to identify.
The Thin Walled Maze Polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa)
This polypore forming on a fallen willow tree insists on growing horizontally. If the tree were standing it would grow out horizontally as a bracket. It is a wood pathogen causing the demise of the tree it will live off.
The beauty of this polypore is its underneath which is where you can find the Maze.
Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea) is a pathogenic mushroom which causes rot in a weakened tree and will eventually bring it down.
The Pestle Puffball (Handkia Excipuliformis)
Sometimes called the long-stemmed puffball it is still a puffball but held higher to give its spores a better chance of dispersal.
Stump Puffball, (Lycoperdon pyriforme) is another wood rot fungus and is different from the Common Puffball as it grows on tree stumps and dead wood, and is pearshaped, These look as if they are growing out of the ground but there will be a dead branch or dead roots buried underneath them.
Puffballs start out round but develop a pore (hole) in the top which the spores are puffed through. Puffballs can release seven trillion spores each with only one or two becoming new puffballs.
These puffballs in the picture are very young but will turn darker as they mature.
Crystal Brain, (Myxarium nucleatum) is a jelly fungus associated with rotting wood (saprobic). It particularly likes our very old beech trees and the very wet weather helps it to display its gelatinous fruiting bodies that can coalesce into one brain-like structure.
One of the jewels of the woods, the Amethyst Deceiver, (Laccaria laccata). So called because of its beautiful colour and because it changes shape and colour as it ages.
Tiny and well hidden in the autumn leaves but can be spotted under many of the beech trees in our woods where it has a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the tree sharing nutrients.
The pattern of the gills is quite distinctive. Widely spaced and the same colour as the cap
Some fungus does not develop into a cap or bracket but will stay flat to the wood they are living on forming a crust. These fungi are resupinate fungi and Wrinkled Crust (Phlebia radiate) does not even lift its edge off its host but creeps along as an orange waxy crinkled crust until the new small patches are joined together. Its mycelium reaches into the wood withdrawing nutrients and causing the wood to decay and crumble.
The rotting wood in Childwall Woods makes it a wonderful place for Saprobic mushrooms. those that get their nutrients from rotting wood, and this little Cluster mushroom, Mycena inclinata is found in abundance during the wetter days of autumn.
The ones in the photo are very young but will become open and become bell-shaped as they do.
Candlesnuff Fungus ( Xylaria Hypoxilon)
A tiny erect fruiting body dark at the base but powdery at the forked tip.
These fungi derive their nutrients from dying wood, not by photosynthesis and so prefers the dark damp places of our woos where there is rotting wood.
This is a bioluminescent fungus and emits a tiny amount of green light caused by phosphorus within it reacting to oxygen in the air.
Shaggy Scaleycaps ( Pholiota squarrosa)
These little show stoppers come in large groups and can often be found in Childwall Woods at this time of year nestling in the roots of Beech trees.
The little conical caps flatten out with age to drop their spores.
Dead Man’s Fingers, (Xylaria polymorpha)
You would be forgiven for thinking these grey points were nails sticking out of this rotting log, but they are the fruiting bodies of Xylaria polymorpha, saprobic fungi breaking down the wood for nutrients.
As its name suggests (Polymorpha) this can appear in many forms but mostly like little black or grey fingers.
The purpose of each ‘digit’ is to grow spores which ripen on the outside. A process that can take months, unlike most fungi which can do the job in days.
To find this fungus look around the base of old tree stumps or on the underside of old rotting logs, like this one
Trembling Merulius, (Phlebia tremellosa).
This stranger to our woods is a pink furry outcrop with a rubbery texture. Its underside is white when young but turns dark with age. There is no stem but has visible pores. You would be forgiven for thinking this was some leathery bracket but it is considered to be a crust fungus and is often called ‘Jelly rot’
It is a decomposer, feeding on the lignin in the wood and will only grow on dead logs and stumps of deciduous trees.
Purple Jellydisc, ( Ascocoryne sarcoides)
This purple jelly outcrop can generally be found on beech logs wherever beech is growing. It is saprobic and helps to breakdown the wood it grows on. The gelatinous growths start out spherical and then flat before turning cup-shaped as they mature. The spores form underneath the cups and appear as translucent dust particles.
The individual cups finally coalesce into one glutenous blob.
A Shaggy Parasol, ( Chlorophyllum rhacodes).
The family of parasols are all impressive because of their large size.
This mushroom is not growing directly out of the tree but is using it as shelter from the sun preferring shady damp places. The shaggy parasol is widespread in Britain but not common and this one was hiding behind a beech tree near to the Countisbury Drive gate. They can cause a serious allergic reaction if eaten.
The Birch Polypore. (Piptoporus betulinus)
Childwall Woods has many brackets growing out of its ageing trees but not many like this. This is only seen on birch trees standing or fallen and is known for its medicinal properties. It has been used as a tonic for the immune system, as an antiseptic to clean wounds and promote healing, antifungal and antiseptic and was found on Bronze Age man who may have used it to get rid of parasitic worms.
It is a parasitic fungus on living birch trees and can live on them for years, breaking them down, once they have fallen.
The Fly Agaric, (Amanita Muscaria) is the typical fairy story mushroom due to its colourful cap but this is not a mushroom to play with as it can cause severe illness if ingested and sometimes death. However, this pretty little mushroom has a beneficial, ‘symbiotic’ relationship with the trees that it grows beneath. In Childwall Woods, this and a few other Fly Agarics were growing under a small fir tree, where their mycelium would draw in water from further afield than the trees own roots and the fungal mycelium would draw on sugars from the roots that the tree does not need. This mycelium seems to have moved to the next fir tree along now and there is a new flush of Flt Agarics there.
80% of trees have symbiotic relationships of this kind.
The cooler spell at the end of summer triggers the slime moulds to go into their reproductive stage and these little white curls on the old log pile are a Slime Mould (Stemonitis) and deserve a closer look.
Slime moulds are not fungi but belong to the family of Mycetozoa which means ‘fungus animals’ as they are free moving Amoebae that feed on bacteria and fungi. When conditions are right they come together to reproduce
The long tube-like strands are the reproductive stage of the slime mould and after new spores have developed they dry and are dispersed on the wind.
But describing this beautiful living organism cannot do it justice. Click here to watch Stemonitis pulsate and bloom.
This Giant Polypore, (Meripilus giganteus) is growing on an old beech stump near to the main entrance of the woods which it shares with many Artists polypores, (Ganoderma applanatum).
It breaks down the lignin in wood causing a ‘white rot’ which is not a problem on this tree stump but is part of the decomposing process performed by fungi.
It particularly likes beech wood but will attack most broadleaf species. It is recognised by its multilayers and by its flesh darkening quickly when bruised.
Considered inedible in the UK, young specimens are consumed in Japan.
These Trametes gibbosa, (commonly known as Lumpy brackets), have been on this log since last year and gathered a thick coating of moss over the wetter months.
Now warmer weather has arrived a new growth of white fungus is pushing out from under the green.
Growing here on an old beech log, forming rosettes which are characteristic of the species.
This large, slightly concave mushroom hiding in the leaf litter is a Common Milkcap, (in the Genus Lactarius).
Its gills run down the stem and it extrudes a latex type milk if damaged.
The Milkcap, (Lactarius) is so-called because of the white latex milk that comes from its gills if they are damaged.
It grows in isolation or in pairs underneath oak and beech trees. It is recognisable from its concave brown cap and pale crowded gills underneath running a short way down the stem.
The Oyster Mushroom. (Pleurotus ostreatus), is often a welcome visitor to our woods, popping up in huge swathes across the top and sides of wet rotting tree trunks.
You may be more familiar with these mushrooms sitting in a box in the supermarket as they are cultivated commercially. These from the log tasted even better.
Oyster mushrooms are used industrially to decontaminate toxic and polluted environments. This process is known as Mycoremediation whereby the enzymes in the mushroom remove a wide array of toxins in the soil, toxins produced by industrial processes.
A young Suede Bolete, ( Xerocomus subtomentosus). A brown or tan mushroom on top of the cap but light yellow pores to disperse their spores on their underside. Cap covered in a suede-like skin.
A pretty little edible mushroom, it is found on the roots of broadleaf trees where it joins in a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the tree by sheathing the roots in its mycelia bringing in water and nutrients for the tree and in exchange taking carbohydrates that the tree has broken down.
Edible but not highly rated.
This very unusual growth was found on an Alder tree on the top field. It is the very unusual Alder tongue gall, (Taphrina alni). This fungal plant pathogen was not found in the UK until the 1940s and is still not a common sight. It causes no harm to the tree but grows out of a young pseudocone (a female catkin) where it changes colour from green to yellow and red then withers to brown. It emerged and had turned brown within a week on our top field where the same process will most likely occur again next August. Perhaps you will spot one?
Sulphur Tuft, (Hypholoma fasciculare) is a common sight in wooded areas in late summer and autumn. This is a poisonous mushroom that is difficult to identify as it changes with age. Its crowded gills are light in colour when young but turn darker with age. The cap flattens as it ages and the dark sulphur-yellow gets lighter towards the edges.
They grow on rotting wood (saprobic) in large clumps and are to be avoided.
Summer is the time for the Artist Brackets, (Ganoderma Applanatum) to return to life, and they are. The large brackets that lay dormant through the winter are growing new white pores on the underside. The patch on the highest bracket will slowly spread until a new surface of pores is formed. The spores are produced by the pores year after year as these brackets can live for many years putting on new layers each year.
Known as a heartwood pathogen this fungus is rotting the tree from the inside destroying its heartwood, with only its fruiting bodies to indicate what is happening inside.
In some cultures, the large brackets are harvested for their therapeutic properties as it is claimed that they have anti-tumour, antibacterial and anti-fibrotic properties.
This rotting log In Childwall Woods, near to the site of the chapel (no longer standing) was covered with a troop of Sheathed Woodtuft, (Kuehneromyces Mutabilis) at the beginning of August. This pretty two-tone mushroom changes from dark to cinnamon colour as it dries out and the circles visible on the caps here are caused by that process.
This common little mushroom, found throughout the world is Soprobic ( extracts nutrients from rotting wood) helping to break down fallen or dead branches and stumps.
The new Wood Ears, Auricularia auricula-judae have emerged on old dying branches in the woods. An edible fungus and an eastern delicacy these jelly fungi are quite easily recognised. Prized for their use in soups in Chinese cuisine. Not very inviting if you ask me. I think I’ll give this one a miss.
This little lone specimen is a Fairy Inkcap, (Caprinellus disseminatus). It is also known as the trooping Crumble Cap as it is usually found in large groups but is delicate and crumbles if touched.
Rarely seen alone as this one is but usually in groups covering fallen tree roots or stumps. It is Soprobic (lives on rotting wood ) and changes colour from white to dark grey in a day or two, but unlike other inkcaps does not turn to ink as it matures.
A very wet, felled beech tree is the perfect place to see Small Staghorn, (Calocera cornea).
These tiny yellow fruiting bodies push out of wet deciduous tree trunks in small waxy bunches. Its Latin name meaning beautiful waxy horns is a perfect description of this tiny wood rot fungus. It likes damp shady places and can be seen all year round but mostly in Autumn.
An old tree stump is a perfect place for a variety of fungus and this one had 2 different kinds growing on it.
A similar tiny Staghorn is the Pale Staghorn, (Calocera pallidospathulata)
This translucent white or pale yellow jelly fungus is a wood rot fungus with flatter horns and sometimes flatter branches than the small staghorn fungus. Also seen in shady wet wooded areas on dead wood.
The lovely ochre brackets are Trametes Ochracea, (Ochre Bracket).
It is one of the Trametes family meaning ‘Thin’ and its colour, a gentle ochre. It is very similar to Trametes hirsuta which is a more hairy specimen. It favours dead or fallen wood of deciduous trees and this was growing from an old beech stump.
The back tar-like fungus is the usual wood pathogen Brittle Cinder, Kretzchmaria Deusta which Has been described previously as one of the main causes for healthy trees to decay and fall. It too favours broadleaved trees but doesn’t mind if they are already dead. It will proceed to break down any cellulose and lignin as left in the tree.
Clinging on to a branch dropped long ago is an outcrop of Bleeding Oak Crust, (Stereum gausapatum.)
This is a common wood rot fungus in the woods and has a velvety top when young. It is usually found on oak which it covers like a crust just lifting at the edges.
Very old logs are essential a variety of fungal life in a forest. New logs may still have their bark on to offer some protection against attack but once that has gone the spores of the wood-rot fungi and slime moulds can take hold.
This very old log in the dampest darkest part of the woods is a perfect example with outcrops of brackets and slime moulds growing on old dead fungus.
The Bracket fungi or shelf fungi, (growing in the bottom right-hand corner of the picture) are polypores that characteristically produce shelf- or bracket-shaped fruiting bodies called conks. They lie horizontally in groups or sometimes individually and there are over 1000 known to science.
Polypores are important agents of wood rot and actively break down the wood recycling the nutrients back into the soil. They are more common in old woods such as ours where trees are left to rot after felling and not taken as timber. You will see many different wood rot conks on the old and fallen trees of Childwall Woods.
Carnival Candy Slime Mould (Mold)
Slime Moulds are not fungi but belong to the Kingdom of Protozoa, but they deserve to be on this page because of their curious and interesting lifestyle.
We identified the first Slime Mould on this page in April and described the False Puffball which is not a puffball at all. Carnival Candy Slime Mould does not pretend to be anything but a slime mould. A beautiful fluffy pink one.
Slime Moulds are individual single-celled Amoebae that come together when conditions are right. They combine with another compatible Amoeba and form a fruiting body on a stick resembling a tiny candy floss. Look closely at the photograph. For more information on Slime Moulds visit Warwick University School of Life Sciences for a wonderful explanation.
The Carnival Candy Slime Moulds seemed to turn brown with age on the old fungus near to the brackets above, but the young pink clusters were visible nearby.
These tiny white tubes are also Slime Mould – (Stemonitopsis Typhina).
If you look closely you can see tiny stalks on some of the tubes but these are tiny smooth white fruiting bodies. They have the same genesis as the Carnival Candy Slime Mould, that of free-living single-celled organisms (Amoeba). After merging with another compatible Amoeba and forming the fruiting body called sporangia they die and become slime. Their spores released from the sporangia go on to produce new amoeba when they land on damp wood. We certainly have enough of that in Childwall Woods.
Every now and then you will come across a little gem of a mushroom that will catch your breath with its beauty. The Collared Parachute, (Marasmius rotula) is one such mushroom.
These tiny delicate little mushrooms are common in the woods loving wood debris in the form of deciduous tree roots, branches and trigs. Turn it over to see wide-spaced gills coming together in a collar around the stem. It is a wood rot species but one of the prettiest of many. It prefers warm weather and can be seen May to November in Childwall Woods
This inconspicuous mushroom is infrequently seen in Britain. Its underneath shows it to be a polypore. It releases its spores through pores, not gills.
It is a Saprobic (wood rot) mushroom favouring dropped branches as in the pictures, or buried wood.
This one was found in the Folly on a broken branch. The cap is often smooth not scaley and can be darker in colour.
Dryad’s Saddle, (Cerioporus squamous) aka Polyporus squamosus. Named after a wood nymph, this large wood rot bracket and is a common edible mushroom in our woods. It is often seen growing out of dying broad-leaf trees. This one is on a pile of beech wood. When growing out of a trunk as was seen below in April, it forms overlapping tiers with the distinctive mottled pattern on top but when growing vertically can form the deep funnel that you see here.
If you look underneath you will see tubes packed close together forming pores identifying it as a polypore.
It appears early and pops up throughout the year on rotting tree stumps, woodpiles and buried tree roots
Although edible I have been told it is not particularly palatable and young specimens only should be picked. IF YOU ARE SURE YOU HAVE IDENTIFIED IT CORRECTLY
Chicken of the Woods ( Laetiporus sulphureus) is a common edible mushroom found throughout the world and gets its name from its similarity to chicken when cooked. HOWEVER, this beautiful specimen was growing out of a dead Yew Tree and so was poisonous.
Yew Trees have a deadly toxin, Taxine, which is transferred to the fungus growing from them. Chicken of the woods is the only fungus that you will find on yew trees because it tolerates the toxin, but that makes it poisonous and sometimes deadly if eaten.
This illustrates the importance of researching every mushroom you are going to eat AND where it came from.
On 27th April a little cluster of stinkhorn eggs was found in a secluded part of the woods. You will find that post further down the page.
Just one month later, if you were to walk in that same secluded spot you would notice the sweet sickly smell of rotting flesh. A stinkhorn egg had hatched, the Stinkhorn Fungus (Phallus Impudicus) had emerged and was signalling its arrival with a sickly odour.
Its tall upright white stem supports a dark slimy spore cap which gives off the strong smell of rotting flesh to attract flies. The flies devour the spore filled slime and carry the spores to new sites. That was why it waited until warm weather before emerging from its egg. It needed flies to spread its spores.
This is the fruiting body of the organism that lives underground. A network of mycelium taking its nutrients from the rotting wood all around.
This was the first fruiting body to emerge, there are more eggs on this site waiting for their turn to hatch, maybe you will see one.
Update 8/20: There have been 16 stinkhorns in a 20-metre radius, since May suggesting that the mycelium network underground is also that large. There have also been stinkhorn sitings and or should I say ‘stinkings’ of these wonderful fruiting bodies throughout the woods which has never happened in previous years. 2020 – the year of the stinkhorn invasion in Childwall woods.
These tiny orange mushrooms were found growing on an old tree stump. It is a tiny outcrop of Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes) which tend to grow on dead wood but may be seen on diseased living trees. Sometimes seen in huge colonies that can cover a tree stump. It will slowly break down the wood as it takes out the nutrients it needs.
The stem is pale when young but darkens with age until black. If you look closely you can see the stems darkening at the bottom. – 24/5/20
Hollow trees are a wonderful habitat for many living things but not usually an Artist’s Bracket (Ganoderma applanatum) like this one,
The Artist’s Bracket is so-called as the white underneath is a perfect place to draw, the soft white growing back over the drawing within weeks.
There are many kinds of brackets all around the Woods. I found this one on a willow tree in February but it has obviously been hiding for many months by the look of its cracked edge. One of many Willow Brackets taking down the tree the spores have managed to penetrate.
This strange mushroom is the Dryad’s Saddle and is one of the edible types of fungus that grow out of old wood. Quite easily identified by its feathered patterning on top and thick stems. Of course, be very careful to make a clear identification before assuming anything is edible.
The little wet fellow below, the Porcelain Mushroom, is another wood rot mushroom that prefers beech wood and you may have taken the weight off your feet on the log by the path where this was discretely growing.
This delicate mushroom has a coat of mucus making it look wet but once that is washed off it is considered a good edible species. The Porcelain Mushroom like all fungi has a secret weapon to keep it healthy while it produces spores and this one has an effective fungicide to protect it from other fungi.
Inkcaps come in all shapes and sizes, some edible and some dangerous. These Glistening Inkcaps are hiding in a nook in a hollow tree, they don’t need the wind to blow their spores or an insect to carry them off so they hide in the dark until their spores are ready then they turn to ink and drip them back into the earth where they came from.
This Common Mazegill fungus lies flat against the rotting wood extracting the nutrients that it needs and breaking down the structure of the wood.
Beech Woodwart (Hypoxylon fragiforme) is a common wood fungus that finds Beech trees most hospitable. It changes colour as it ages turning from pale pink to dark brown/black. This is a poisonous fungus although why anyone would want to eat it is a mystery.
Coral Spot is a plant pathogen that moves in to colonize the plant when something else has weakened it. In this case, the branch has dropped and the fungi will complete its job of returning the nutrients locked up inside, to the earth.
The pretty grey and white patches on this rotting wood are indicate that this log is infected with Kretzschmaria deusta commonly known as Brittle Cinder. It is a pathogenic fungus that infects broadleaf trees and consumes the cellulose and lignin in the wood causing it to soften and make the tree unstable. This will take many years depending on the size of the tree but this tiny fungus will eventually bring down the tallest trees.
The False Puffball is not a puffball at all, in fact, it is a slime mould with an alternative name of Enteridium Lycoperdon.
Slime Mould is the most wonderful life form.
A slime mould is made up of individual organisms that roam freely over their host but congregate together to form one organism for the sole purpose of reproduction.
(See Wikipedia. for more information).
This beautiful white lump is the slime mould individuals coming together. It will become slimy as it develops then the white dries and cracks off like a thin eggshell to expose a brown mass underneath as the spores are released.
You would be forgiven for thinking this little cluster was a group of puffballs but you would be mistaken. If you look closely you will see they are different in texture and not quite so round as a young puffball. They are the first stage of the Stinkhorn known as Stinkhorn Eggs.
The embryonic fungus inside the egg will push up through the top of the egg sac when conditions are right which is usually the summer months when there are many flies around.
The tip of the stinkhorn is covered in a jelly that stinks of rotting flesh to attract flies who devour it. The flies will carry off the jelly which has the stinkhorn spores in it and so the spores are scattered far and wide.
The pores themselves don’t become eggs but when they settle on a suitable site, with buried rotting wood in the ground, then they will set up a network of mycelium underground sending up fruiting bodies, eggs, to eventually reproduce. The eggs will then develop slowly through spring but not emerge until there are flies around in summer.
There will be no images of the stinkhorns until they emerge later in the year but if you would like a preview click HERE to see what Phallus Impudicus will look like.
That’s all the fungus for now but there will be more to come.
If you see any new fungus in our woods and fields, let us have a photo for the page. email@example.com
Fungi from 2014 to 2019
Fungi are very specific about their habitat. These Fairy inkcaps, (Coprinellus disseminatus ) make a spectacular show on old stumps and logs.
Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) love to grow on fallen beech trees like this one. Their oyster shaped fan can be fluted as seen here. Not only are these beautiful mushrooms choice edible mushrooms but they are medicinal too and have antiviral properties.
Poisonous Sulphur Tuft, (Hypholoma fasciculare). It is very common in all woodlands from September onwards and is certainly a mushroom to avoid picking. It is poisonous enough to make you ill for a few days although it may not be fatal. It loves rotting wood and is an agent for decomposition.
Toothed Crust (Basidioradulum) when young is similar to an open flower. It is resupinate ( lies close on to the branch) and is individual rounded spots which slowly coalesce into patches of irregular waxy folds and ripples.
Only found on decaying wood,
Turkeytail (Trametese Versicolor) below. You will see this fungus throughout the woods in many different colours. It likes old wood and tree stumps and displays bands of different colours, always ending with a white edge. It likes all seasons.
Turkeytail is also known for its medicinal properties
Bracket Fungus (Polypores)
You will see polypores of many different shapes sizes and colours on tree trunks throughout Childwall Woods. Some will exploit a small fracture in a living tree and live off the tree for many years showing bands of growth for each year. Some polypores prefer fallen trees and play an important part in the ecosystem of the woods by breaking down the deadwood and recycling its nutrients back into the soil. All are spectacular. See for yourself. All of these wonderful specimens were photographed in Childwall Woods.
Polypores do not have gills like mushrooms but release their spores through tubes. This one releases thousands of cocoa coloured spores causing it to appear as if it’s been dusted in chocolate.
Many kinds of fungi make their homes on trees, living and dead, and below you will see a selection of fruiting bodies that you may see when walking in the woods.
Others exploit a break in the tree bark to establish a hold and draw their nutrients. These are parasitic as they live off the tree without giving anything back.
Puffballs. There are many kinds of puffballs and they all are a closed mushroom without gills and an open cap. They grow their spores inside and puff them out of the top in a cloud of fine dust.
True puffballs have no stem and an aperture can be seen after the spores are ejected. See below
Common Puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum) Below. These are stemmed and have a spiny appearance when young. These white puffballs darken with age and are usually brown by the time the aperture appears in the top. They are widespread throughout the woods.
Collared Earthstars (Geastrum triplex) are similar to puffballs but the outer skin has peeled back and split to form the star shape. this pushes the centre spore-bearing sphere up to maximize dispersion.
This pretty fungus likes to grow in colonies under the oaks in the woods where it helps the tree to absorb phosphorus and other elements from the soil. In return, the tree shares carbohydrates with the earth star. A perfect symbiotic relationship.
There are mushrooms that always steal the show such as these Shaggy Inkcaps which slowly turn to liquid so as to drip their spores down into the soil to find some more rotting wood to feed on. These were at the end of the carriageway.
This bright orange group of Rustgills are breaking down the old dead tree in the clearing and looking amazing while doing it.
This fungus is the Giant Polypore, Meripilus giganteus mentioned previously Not to be recommended as an edible species.
Here it is in 2019 on the same beech stump as it appeared on again in August 2020. It can also be found on the roots of trees, usually oaks but any broadleaf rotting wood.
When young the brackets are thick and can be mistaken for Chicken of the Woods but they thin out with age.
Jelly mushrooms like these Wood Ears (Auricularia auricula) grow out of the host tree weakening it as they take the nutrients.
Witch’s Butter, (Tremella mesenterica)
This jelly fungus is a parasitic type of fungus common in woodland throughout Britain and Europe. It is sometimes called Yellow Brain due to its convoluted appearance when larger than this specimen. Although it may not look very appetising it is known as an ancient Chinese addition to soup to thicken it and is being researched for its anti-inflammatory and antiallergic properties. This small specimen was growing on a branch covered in Lichen on the top field.
The Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria ) is undoubtedly one of the most striking mushrooms you may see in the woods. It is poisonous though rarely deadly and the colour red will tell you to beware. It has a symbiotic relationship with the trees that it lives under, breaking down minerals for them and taking nutrients from the tree for itself. It prefers Beech but this one was growing under the large old Yew Tree near the clearing in the woods in 2014.
The tiny fungus seen here on its raft of rotting wood is a bioluminescent fungus called Xylaria hypoxylon. Bioluminescent fungi emit light continually due to a chemical reaction as phosphorus accumulated within the mycelium reacts with oxygen and other chemicals in the fungus. Unfortunately, the amount of light is very weak and not noticeable to the human eye. Its common name is Candlesnuff Fungi and is quite common in the woods on rotting wood
The Amethyst deceiver (Laccaria amethystina);
This beautiful fungi loves the damp woodland floor and is hard to spot when it is wet as it is a wonderful purple colour but as it dries out it becomes a pale grey.
This striking mushroom can easily be identified by its gill pattern shown here.
This little grey mushroom is a rarity in our woods it is Elfin Saddle – Helvella lacunosa. The ‘Lacunosa’ part of its Latin name means ‘with holes’ and the stem is visibly perforated. This little gem can be all shades of grey and is a rare visitor to our woods.
Clouded Funnel, Clitocybe Nebularis,
One of many funnel mushrooms that can be seen in the woods. This fungus prefers broadleaf litter which it breaks down for nutrients.
Here a colony can be seen growing in a line under deciduous trees on the top field.
A Gallery of Fungi in Childwall Woods and Fields
If you have some pictures of fungi in Childwall Woods or Fields please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Not all mushrooms are edible. Some are poisonous and some are deadly.
Make sure you know what kind of fungus you have if you are thinking of eating it.
Author: B Cameron Secretary Friends of Childwall Woods and Fields
All photographs are the authors own unless indicated otherwise.
Francesca Bosco and Chiara Mollea – Mycoremediation in Soil – https://www.intechopen.com/books/environmental-chemistry-and-recent-pollution-control-approaches/mycoremediation-in-soil
Jordan. M Mushroom Magic – 1989
Dickson G Green Guide Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain and Europe. – 1996
Kew Science, – http://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:indexfungorum.org:names:161267
Wikipedia .org – https://en.wikipedia.org
First Nature – https://www.first-nature.com/fungi/ganoderma-applanatum.php
First Nature – https://www.first-nature.com/fungi/xylaria-hypoxylon.php
Nature Picture Library – https://www.naturepl.com
Green Man Conservation – http://www.greenmanconservation.co.uk
Wild Food – https://www.wildfooduk.com
The Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
Friends of Fineshade -https://www.fineshade.org.uk