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Field Club Fungi Foray to Swan Wood, Stock
Saturday September 18th
: Eleven people gathered at the entrance to this Woodland Trust reserve at 11am and it is pleasing to report that there were a number of new faces among the regulars. There has been more rain so far this autumn than in each of the past three years and I was hopeful that this, the first Club foray of the autumn, would get things off to a good start. So it proved, although the interior of the wood was surprisingly dry : with the sap still rising until recently the trees had rapidly soaked up the early autumn rain. The wood itself was a little disappointing and appears to have deterioated in the past few years. For instance, the paths are very wide and far too numerous; dog walkers the culprits probably, but the result is an absence of any "quiet corners". Also, the Trust seems to lack the resources or the volunteers to carry out much coppicing work and the overgrown stools have shaded out much of the undergrowth, apart from along the central stream. These, of course, are problems common to many Essex woods.
Despite the dry conditions we identified 54 species of Basidiomycetes and I am sure Martin Gregory will come up with a few more additions from the smaller realms of fungi in which he specialises. Among the former were eight species of Russula, including R. acrifolia and R.pseudointegra, the English names for which are Crowded and Scarlet Brittlegill respectively; six Amanita, the Death Cap Amanita phalloides having pride of place among them; five Lactarius and four Xerocomus. One of our group was keen to discover which species were edible and Tony Boniface, the County recorder, suggested he taste the 'milk' of the aptly named Fiery Milkcap Lactarius polygallus. Definitely not on the menu, that one, as he discovered! Other species of interest included Panther Cap Amanita pantherina, Grey Coral Clavulina cinerea, Aniseed Funnel Clitocybe odora, the Lacquered Bracket Ganoderma lucidum (growing on Hornbeam) and several large clumps of the Giant Polypore Meripilus giganteus. The two rarest species were Dwarf Willow Shield Pluteus nanus and Chlorophyllum oliverieri, a parasol mushroom so scarce that it has yet to be given an English name. There are several records of the former on the BMI database for South Essex, most of them found recently by Andy Overall in the Greater London area, but none in either vice county for the latter. Fortunately, it was identified by Tony.
All in all an excellent start to the season but we could certainly do with some more rain!