2013 in review
2013 turned out to be the best year for larger fungi, probably since 2004.
The spring was delayed by a colder than average (in recent years) April, and due to this lingering winter, I took the decision to cancel my first walk on April 28th. This was something that I haven’t had to do in the 17 years I have been leading the walks.
Once we made it into May the situation began to improve. Calocybe gambosa, the St George’s Mushroom began to pop up and we started to see the emergence of Laetiporus sulphureus, Chicken of the woods, as well as various other early fruiters, such as Conocybe aporos, Agaricus bitorquis and there was a surge of Polyporus squamosus and its close relative Polyporus tuberaster.
All around people were complaining about the effects of the prolonged winter upon apple orchards and other fruits, the fact that the blossom had appeared very late and the consequences of that upon pollination by bees, leading to a poor harvest come early autumn……….well, they needn’t have worried as come the autumn there was a fruit profusion, the larger fungi followed suit.
2013 was what I would call a ‘normal year’ the coldish spring, a good, hot summer mixed with some wet weather, rolling into a mild, mixed autumn and into a rather mild winter. This all combined to make for optimum fruiting conditions for the larger fungi.
The thermophilus Boletes rose to the occasion of a hot summer, which had lengthy periods between any rain. Boletus appendiculatus I have never seen so abundant, both on Hampstead Heath and at Epping Forest. Boletus impolitus just kept on going in one location on Hampstead Heath, allowing me to get some good pictures.
This particular location, which I have monitored for many years now, was in fact producing many different species, among which was a species new to Britain, Russula amoenoides, a taxa closely related to Russula graveolens which also occurs here. Other species recorded here during 2013 are as follows, Amanita ceciliae, Amanita rubescens, Amanita franchetii, Amanita fulva, Boletus impolitus, Boletus radicans, Russula graveolens, Russula knauthii, Russula ochroleuca, Russula grisea, Tricholoma ustale, Tricholoma scalpturatum and Inocybe haemacta among many others, quite a little hotspot.
I was fortunate enough to have been commissioned to carry out two surveys during 2013, one for Thomson Ecology at Wormwood Scrubs, which really defined the snapshot survey, consisting of only two visits. The other survey, for Atkins Global on behalf of the City of London, was on my home patch of Hampstead Heath, which ran from August to November. Involving ten visits, carried out within designated areas, which are to be affected by planned dam works taking place around both the Hampstead and Highgate pond chains. 1,117 records were made during this survey out of which 258 species were named. Among these records were a bunch of species new to site and county, such as Cortinarius urbicus, Cortinarius tabularis, Russula rhodomelanea and Inocybe appendiculata. The Scrubs survey, although short still had some good records, such as the red data species Schizophyllum amplum on Willow.
The first ever official red data list was published in 2013, a pilot publication on the Boletacea family, approved by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) who are recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which makes it official. Previous red data publications were not given this official approval, not that this makes those lists any less important. The big difference here is that this new list deals with just one family, as opposed to trying to take on the Kingdom. In all respects this is a landmark publication.
One of the Boletes mentioned in this red data list, Boletus pseudosulphureus an endangered yet, poorly understood species that some authors consider just a yellow form of Boletus luridiformis, was recorded from Hampstead Heath during one of my forays. This is now being DNA’d by Martyn Ainsworth at Kew. Other species on the list that one may know and may think were common enough are Leccinum duriusculum (due to unreliable data) Xerocomellus bubalinus, Xerocomellus engelii and Xerocomellus ripariellus all due to insufficient data as they all three species have only been identified within the last couple of decades.
All of the sites that I visit, Epping Forest, Puttenham Common, Wimbledon Common and The New Forest all had a very fungi productive year. Epping Forest was good, as early as August, when a bunch of us, Geoffrey Kibby, Mario Tortelli and Keir Mottram made an impromptu visit. During this visit, Amanita virosa, hardly ever seen in the forest, was recorded from two separate sites, the summer 2013, Bolete obligator, Boletus appendiculatus was evident, as was a strange looking, Boletus luridiformis (pos. var. dicolor). Some wonderful Russula, Russula faginea, Russula cyanoxantha, Russula violeipes, Russula nobilis and the rare Russula melliolens all recorded. A sighting that really surprised me was Cantherellus ferruginescens I have never seen, in the 17 years I have been foraying here, a Chanterelle, let alone a more rare species such as this, nor have I the Destroying Angel for that matter. This just proves how good a year 2013 has been for larger fungi.
In between all of the forays and workshops we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Swiss Alps with a group of fungi friends. These places are always real eye openers, not only for the spectacular scenery, the plethora of larger fungi on display are a sight to behold. So many new species added to my repertoire, among them, Mycena rosella, Mycena Adonis, Cortinarius odifera, Clavariadelphus truncata, Russula firmula, Russula favrei, Albatrellus, Tricholoma vaccinum and more, a fantastic trip..here are some of the images from this trip..
Puttenham Common, very good in most recent years, also didn’t disappoint in 2013 with good records of Hydnellum concrescens and Cortinarius triumphans, Cortinarius bivelus, Cortinarius fulvescens ((a new one for me, and the Common). Unfortunately, the area within which I lead my forays is a target for commercial collectors. Just as I was giving my usual, introductory talk to my group, two pairs of Eastern Europeans (I know they were EE because they were questioned by us) emerged from the woodland carrying shopping bags full of mushrooms, my heart sunk……they had smiles on their smug faces as they climbed into a waiting vehicle. This is a problem that is tainting all who are involved in leading fungi forays, as authorities cannot be seen to discriminate, so we are all tarred with the same brush…..if strict measures are brought in, or laws passed, this will not effect these people as they will just continue, as can be witnessed in Epping Forest. Whether or not the harvesting of fungi on a commercial scale effects the populations of fungi (there is no proof that it does) the fact is, that there has been an adverse reaction by authorities that affects us all.
Epping Forest had a great year, from August to late November, excellent showing of Cortinarius elatior with the beech trees, oh and I nice record of Cordyceps capitata which I have never recorded from the forest before. This fungus parasitizes another fungus, Elaphomyces granulatus a type of inedible truffle. Ramaria stricta, the Upright Coral was abundant in one small area we came across, the Death Cap was prevalent as were the Winter Chanterelle, Cantherellus tubaeformis and the Horn of Plenty, Craterellus cornucopioides. Also large swathes of Agaricus silvicola greeted us in one area, and I was able to record for another year the uncommon Amanita submembranacea.
Wimbledon Common – One big surprise for Wimbledon was Boletus areus,outside of the New Forest this is one species that does not turn up…but here it was in a ditch, under an Oak tree, alongside a public footpath at Wimbledon Common. It has to be a new record for the common, and there can’t be too many for the county, must check. Cortinarius croceus alongside Hebeloma pusillum was found with Willow at the edge of one of the ponds.
New Forest-Can be the most brilliant place to see a wide variety of larger fungi but in recent years it has been a little disappointing, however this year it did not disappoint with Russula, Cortinarius, Boletus, Cantherellus, Craterellus, Sparassis, Hydnum and so on, in abundance…a wonderful treat the New Forest when its like this….
UK find of the year for me has to be
Boletus pseudosulphureus from Hampstead Heath. I was beside myself upon seeing this, which was discovered by one of the attendees.