mystery fungus plus some observations

m.a. dritschel m.a.dritschel at ncl.ac.uk
Tue Oct 23 03:43:03 EST 2001


Recently my wife discovered a fungus which has me stumped in trying to
come up with an ID.  Superficially it looks like a Daldinia (cramp
ball), and was found growing in clusters on the rotten stump of what I
think (based on shoots coming up nearby) was a linden growing near the
Tyne river in Hexham, Northumberland (the northeast of England).  

They are about 2 cm in diameter, roughly spherical, though some are
slightly pointed at the apex.  The exterior is dark brown to black,
roughly textured, and tough to cut through.  If you pry off a bit of
the tree with the fungus, you find that there is root of sorts
extending 1/2-1cm.  The interior of the fruiting body is white, and
has none of the concentric zones you would expect from a Daldinia (my
impression is that all species of this genus have zones).  There is a
collumnella extending about a third of the way into the interior.
Really, the inside reminds me more of a puffball.  The smell is strong
and pleasantly mushroomy.  I haven't tasted it or examined it under a
microscope as of yet.

Any ideas?

By the way, this has been a wonderful year for chanterelles here.  We
collected over 2kg yesterday of Cantherellus cibarius (though some
were a bit waterlogged from all of the rain).  What I find remarkable
is that we have now been finding them for roughly 6 weeks, and I
assume we will continue to do so until the weather turns cold.  When I
lived in the US, it always seemed that these fruited for at most a
week (in mid-July in Virginia and late August in Indiana).  There I
found them primarily under beech and oak, while here they seem to
mostly be associated with birch.  To my eye, they appear to be the
same species, though it does seem strange that there should be such
differences.

I just recently finished reading John Ramsbottom's "Mushrooms and
Toadstools", which inspired me to go out looking for truffles.  (This
is truly a marvelous book, especially regarding historical aspects of
mushroom identification and micophagy.  It also gave me a stronger
appreciation of some of the fungi--especially non-gilled--that I might
otherwise give little notice to while out collecting).  I found a nice
beech wood but didn't turn up any truffles and couldn't convince my
dogs to help me out!  As a consolation though , I did find almost 2kg
of the "horn of plenty" (Craterellus cornucopiodes), as well as a few
Cantherellus tubaeformis.

Michael Dritschel.





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