Last year we visited Kidbrooke Park in Forest Row with the Sussex Fungus Group. It rained but that didn’t stop us finding an interesting array of species. So this year we had another visit (on 6 November); this time it didn’t rain, and a different group of fungi turned up.
Our leader was Nick Aplin, who is the Microfungi Recorder for Sussex (though he knows about the big ones too). He had brought a book on the waxcaps since there was such a good collection of them on the south lawn last year. However, this time there weren’t any. It has been a bit of a funny year for fungi anyway, being dry over the summer and early autumn, so many things were a bit late appearing (if they did at all).
Nevertheless, the Yellow Club (Clavulinopsis helvola) was still on the south lawn, as were quite a few bizarre orange fungi, the Scarlet Caterpillarclub (Cordyceps militaris). It parasitises moth pupae underground and then when they are dead, pushes up this rather fabulous fruiting body, somewhat like the creature in Alien (though it is a bit smaller).
The area under the trees on the edge of the valley field are always worth a look, and Nick showed us several species there, including Conifercone Cap (Baeospora myosura) growing on old pine cones (funnily enough), and a puffball (Lycoperdon sp.) which was unfortunately not mature enough to identify.
Then, grubbing around the various common fungi in the woods we also came across a gall on beech, the English name of which is (unsurprisingly) Hairy Beech Gall, caused by the small midge Hartigiola annulipes.
Well into the woods Nick dived into a large clump of Male-fern (Dryopteris felix-mas) and soon emerged with a old stem, which was covered in some very lovely tiny, pink fungi, Ferny Bonnet (Mycena pterigena). That spot also produced some Pipe Club (Macrotyphula fistulosa), which looked just like a odd stick attached to another stick.
As we worked our way towards the end of the grounds, Nick was pleased to find Wood Oysterling (Melanotus horizontalis), and there were a couple of species on and around Alder: Alder Milkcap (Lactarius obscuratus) and Alder Bracket (Mensularia radiata). Nick also showed us Dennisiella babingtonii, which is a tiny black fungus on the leaves of Rhododendron. You’d think it was just some dirty black smudge, but under a hand lens the small fungi were very distinct.
At the far end of the grounds there is a wonderful fallen Beech, which we spent lots of time on last year. It was host to a wide range of species again, though several of them were different from last year and included Olive Oysterling (Sarcomyxa serotina), lots of Oysters (Pleurotus ostreatus), Beech Jellydisc (Neobulgaria pura), the rather fabulous Pholiota adiposa, and Small Stagshorn (Calocera cornea).
The dragon logs (as they are known) also harboured a few species, though they aren’t nearly as rich as the big Beech. There was a particularly fine specimen of Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica), and a cluster of the common Clustered Bonnet (Mycena inclinata).
Finally, heading back down the woody track there were a few more, this time adding Clouded Funnel (Clitocybe nebularis), Rooting Shank (Xerula radicata) and Slippery Jack (Suillus luteus) to the list.
In all, I think we ended up with 68 species of fungi over the course of the morning, which compares with 66 from last year, though only 18 were on both lists. I suspect we could usefully record the fungi at Kidbrooke for many years yet!
Indeed, Nick noted that the record for Gymnopus obscuroides is probably new to East Sussex, though may well be quite common. It is one of many species that he is interested in, and is keen to do a DNA study with the mycologists at Kew. Clearly, there is much new stuff to find out about the fungi right on our doorstep.Huge thanks to Nick for leading the walk, and to Simon Gillman and Michael Hall School for allowing access to the estate.
See also Clare Blencowe’s account of the same event: ‘Kidbrooke Park.’ Misidentifying Fungi blog. 7 November 2016. Web. http://misidentifyingfungi.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/kidbrooke-park.html