Ganoderma photo by Marion Rayner
This field meeting, during a quiet, dry, bright autumn interval between two overnight
spells of rain and wind, was, for me, amongst the most enjoyable and fruitful of this year.
I was greatly heartened by the turnout of around 35 people and the interest and pleasure
expressed to me by many. The fungi put on quite a good show too, having been quite
inhibited by the dry September!
Perhaps the convivial spirit of the meeting had something to do with the fact that several
participants arrived early, to enjoy the refreshment available at the Fox & Hounds,
Farleigh Wick. As we gathered in the car park, we were joined by Carol Whitehead, who
told us that her father-in-law, Dr Denis Whitehead, had sadly passed on earlier in the
week. But at least he had been at home, in the place he loved and whose wonderfully
diverse natural history he was so happy to share with individuals and groups who
appreciate it. We felt his welcoming influence with us as we were met by Judith, his
housekeeper, and guided by her through the beautiful gardens of Inwoods before entering
the woodland itself.
White Spindles photo by Marion Rayner
Snowy Waxcap (Hygrocybe virginea), Persistent Waxcap (H.acutoconica), Yellow Club
(Clavulinopsis helvola), White Spindles (Clavaria fragilis), Collared Mosscup
(Rickenella swartzii) and Ivory Bonnet (Mycena flavoalba). Just before entering the
woodland, we found some specimens of Crab Brittlegill (Russula xerampelina) growing
in association with the roots of a birch tree, with which it forms ectomycorrhizal
partnerships, and were able to affirm its distinctive odour.
After such a display in the garden, the woodland seemed initially less fruitful, though we
did see some fine rich red-brown brackets of Oak Curtain Crust (Hymenochaete
rubiginosa) on decaying oak heartwood, and Glue Crust (Hymenochaete corrugate)
bonding Hazel branches together. Then, in the middle of the beautiful central glade, we
found some lovely salmon-apricot coloured specimens of Meadow Waxcap (Hygrocybe
pratensis) nestling amongst the short grass. Moving on to the part of the woodland in
which large beech trees occur, the number of fungal finds increased dramatically. These
Spiny Puffball photo by Tom Cairns
baby hedgehog, and Felt Saddle (Helvella macropus) in which the saddle-shaped spore-
producing surface is held aloft by a stalk with a velvety covering. Finally we gathered
under a magnificent beech tree to observe the extensive network of mycelial cords
formed by Whitelaced Shank (Megacollybia platyphylla) that I once demonstrated in the
1980s on a BBC ‘Horizon’ programme called ‘The Britannic Greenhouse’. I like to think
of this as part of the legacy of Denis Whitehead and his kindness to me in those days.
Hymenochaete rubiginosa photo by John Presland
Helvella macropus photo by John Presland
Hygrocybe pratensis photo by John Presland
Then we ‘hot-footed’ it back to the Fox & Hounds, almost on schedule for 4 pm.