On a cold and blustery day in November, 14 curious stayers joined our new Assistant Warden Rosie, John Hedger and myself, to learn more about fungi. Starting in the warmth of the tavern, John explained how the wet conditions this year have resulted in huge numbers of fungi of all shapes, sizes, and colours to appear all over the island, making it the best year for records for about 13 years. After an interesting introduction to their life cycle and biology, we headed out to find some examples. Passing through the Camping Field into Lighthouse Field, we were greeted by dots of colour as far as the eye could see – the waxcaps were out in force.

In a fairly small area of the field, we soon found Golden and Butter Waxcaps, which are both yellow, and Spangle, Honey and Orange Waxcaps, which are orange. Scarlet Waxcaps were easy to spot, as were the Snowy Waxcaps. Parrot Waxcaps were harder, as their green colour when fresh soon fades leaving a variety of shades of yellow, pink, purple, and beige. Meadow Waxcaps were found with their dry, apricot caps, and Slimy Waxcaps which were dark grey, and extremely slippery.

Another very interesting group of fungi which do very well on Lundy are the clubs, and we quickly found that the field, as with most of the grasslands on the island, was covered in the small yellow spikes of Yellow Club. We also found the richer coloured Apricot Club, the clustered fingers of Smoky Spindles, and one very unusual white one – the Pointed Club. Even rarer are the earthtongues – appropriately named tiny black or dark brown tongues, which are very hard to spot unless you get down to grass level. We found two different species – the slippery Glutinous Earthtongue, and the dry-surfaced Deceptive Earthtongue. These were collected, and I checked the fine structures under the microscope later in the day to confirm their identities.

Other grassland fungi that we found in Lighthouse Field were the Crazed Cap, Meadow Puffball, Ivory Bonnet, Magic Mushroom and Dewdrop Mottlegill.

Hygrocybe vitellinaMoving out into South West Field, we headed to Rocket Pole, picking up the very common Fairy Ring Champignon on the way, as well as Dog Vomit Slime mould – no need to describe what that looks like!

The well grazed turf around Rocket Pole Pond is always a great place for fungi, and this year was no exception, giving us the third ever record of another waxcap – the tiny but beautiful Hygrocybe vitellina, with a fluted yellow cap and arched gills edged in a band of translucence. Three other Waxcaps were added to the list – Blackening Waxcap with its conical cap which slowly turns black over time, Crimson Waxcap which is a dark red and chunky cone, and the small dull orange Heath Waxcap, usually found in grass amongst the bracken. Other bracken-loving fungi were found – the Tufted Wood Mushroom, Dusky Puffball, and the brown Butter Cap with its greasy cap giving it the name, not the colour.

Heading back along the south side, we found a bit of dead gorse with the aptly named Yellow Brain growing on it, and further along was a clump of Peppery Roundheads, in beautiful shades of pale aqua.

One final species was found beside the track as we walked back past the church – Meadow Coral is a yellow fungus which looks just like a marine coral, but grows in short turf all over the island.

A total of 35 species were recorded, and all the forayers were very helpful in spotting interesting finds. Eyes were opened to the huge variety of fungi that can be found in just one small area of the island, and it is easy to see why Lundy’s grasslands are so important for fungi.

November foray 9986

Mandy Dee (Lundy Fungus Recorder), November 2019

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