This appears to be a rare species in Britain, the Checklist commenting that there are only a few English records, from Durham southwards. The BMS online database list one record from Essex, made as recently as 2008 by Martin Ainsworth at Sewardstone. Thus The Backwarden record is the second for the County.
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Wed 20th October 2010 16:27 by Graham Smith
Volvariella surrecta at The Backwarden
Saturday October 9th 2010 : This species was found during a work party at the reserve. It parasitises the fruit bodies of another fungus, the Clouded Funnel, Clitocybe nebularis and is unmistakeable. Those found today were infecting around a dozen or so funnels, part of a giant 'fairy ring' that measured twenty-one feet in circumferance and contained over fifty fruit bodies. The ring had probably taken many years to attain this girth. The photo clearly shows the volva of Volvariella emerging from the cap of the funnel.
Fri 15th October 2010 16:49 by Graham Smith
Agaricus lanipes at Stow Maries Airfield
Thursday October 7th 2010 : During a fungi foray at the First World War Airfield at Stow Maries (TQ8199) around 15-20 specimens of this species were found on either side of the bridleway hedge that flanks the eastern boundary of the old airfield. They were growing in clusters both beneath the hedge and in the field opposite, recently planted with new woodland by the owner of the airfield. This species keys out to Section Spissicaules in Flora Agaricina Neerlandica (2001), two principal characteristics of which are yellowing rhizomorphs at the base of the stem and brown girdles beneath the ring. Both features can be clearly seen on the photographs below although the former broke off when the mushrooms were removed from the caespitose clump they were part of, leaving only a stump. The scales on the cap become broad and flattened (lanate) with age while the flesh, like many brown capped Agaricus, turns pink when cut but pale yellowish white, later brown, in the base of the stem. Both cap and stem turn yellowish on handling, the latter often fading to brown, as is evident here. The spores were 6-7um in length; elliptical and without a germ pore. Most of the specimens were close to the point of no return and even the younger examples illustrated here were often riddled with insect holes.
There are no records on the BMS Database for this species in Essex but in his article on Agaricus in the EN No.23 (2005/2006) Tony Boniface lists a single record from Belhus Woods Country Park, made by Mary Smith. Thus this would appear to be the second County record.
Sun 3rd October 2010 15:37 by Graham Smith
Lactarius semisanguifluus at Ingatestone
September 30th 2010 : This rare species was found growing at two sites at Ingatestone this morning. Two were present, along with Lactarius deliciosus, at Elmfield Farm Pine Plantation (TL647003) which, as its name suggests, is a small Scots Pine plantation, in this instance on the edge of a now defunct farm; while a single example was discovered beneath a Scots Pine outside Spilfeathers, Back Lane (TL643004), which is about 200 yards distant as the spore flies. All three specimens drew attention to themselves by their pale greyish-green caps which, on closer inspection proved to be dotted with grey-green, these forming partial ring zones towards the edge of the cap. The stem was smooth and pale clay-pink in colour while the gills were pink, stained blue-green with age. These characteristics suggested either this species or Lactarius quieticolour, another rare species, associated with pines of acid soils. Semisanguifluus is supposedly found on more calcareous soils but Tony Boniface has found both at nearby Fryerning Churchyard during recent Field Club forays. On returning home it was confirmed as semisanguifluus when the flesh turned dark purple red within fifteen minutes of cutting (see photo) whilst that on quieticolor turns only slowly to yellowish brown and, later, brownish vinaceous and in deliciosus (also illustrated) remains orange for several hours before turning green. The spores, which are ornamented with ridges that fail to form a complete reticulum, are a further distinguishing feature from the other two species.
The Checklist of British & Irish Basidiomycota (2005) lists records from Middlesex, Surrey and Northern Ireland. There are nor records for Essex on the BMS online database, the above records having yet to be entered, but it would appear that this species may be fairly widespread in this area, even though the three sites so far are on fairly acid ground.
Fri 1st October 2010 16:23 by Graham Smith
Xerocomus moravicus at Fryerning
Thursday September 30th : Two examples of the scarce bolete, Xerocomus moravicus, were found growing in grass, within the shadow of a large oak, on Fryerning Green this morning. Although scarce it seems to be relatively easy to identify (ho! ho! ho!) compared with many in this group. Cap colour is notoriously unreliable in Xerocomus but the sienna or tawny coloured pileus, which minutely cracks with age and has the texture of suede leather, does seem to be characteristic of this species. The pores are described as lemon yellow by Alan Hills (Field Mycology Voll. 9, issue 3, July 2008) but as pale cream, then yellowish in Funga Nordica (2008), the latter more closely resembling these examples. Again, Alan describes the context (cut flesh) as off-white, unchanging or gradually pale yellow, but unlike Funga Nordica does not mention the brown discolouration beneath the cap cuticle, apparent on the photograph, below. On these examples the flesh turned pale yellow in the base of the stipe but not elsewhere; although it had faded to brownish by the time these shots were taken. FN also states that the stem is sometimes lageniform- fusiform, which means swollen in the middle, tapering at both ends in peasant speak. This too is clearly seen on the photos, although it should be born in mind that these specimens were not fully grown. Microscopically, the terminal hyphae in the pileipellis (cap cuticle) lack incrustations, which appeared to be the case in this instance when examined using Congo Red. It is not an easy feature to observe (or not observe) though!
The BMI database lists two records for Essex, one from Maldon Woods, Colchester in 1980 and the second in Epping Forest, found by Geoffrey Kibby in 1996. The latter is included in Tony Boniface's article on Bolete in the the EN No.19 (2001-02). The photo on Plate 13 of that issue is of the 1996 specimens, taken by Geoffrey, and they closely match my own photos, above. Thus, this record would appear to be the third for the County.