Monday, 17 October 2016

Peppard Common to Stoke Row: Woodland fungi

Mid-October is usually the bumper time for fungi and this year is no exception. I had mapped out this walk in July so I could go on a hunt for helleborines in deep, dark beech woodlands. I didn't manage it then but I thought the same route would be good for fungi. Here is a map of the 11 mile walk.

I started off in Woodland Trust's New Copse just to the north of Sonning Common. It has only a few old beech trees along its edge but had a good range of fungi. This was about the first one I saw. I had seen the woods for the first time last year and thought they deserved further exploration.


I do not believe in picking fungi either to eat or identify, there are just too few around for that to be a good idea. I would only be tempted if there were hundreds of them - and you rarely see that. Without picking them it is impossible to safely identify many of them. The next ones were tiny, just appearing out of very decayed wood. I think they may be an immature form of the jelly cup group of fungi. I suspect Beech jellydish (Neobulgaria pura) or Anemone Cup (Dumontinia tuberosa).

Beech jellydish,Neobulgaria pura,fungi

I crossed over from Old Copse to what else but New Copse and along its eastern and northern edges I found another good range of fungi, including Jelly ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) as you can tell from the Latin name this used to be Jew's Ear and has been renamed to spare our blushes.

Jelly ear,Auricularia auricula-judae,fungi

Also Shaggy Parasol (Chlorophyllum rhacodes) with its fine wispy edges.


Squirrels were active in the woods. Some were too busy stashing nuts to take too much notice of me.

Shaggy Parasol,Chlorophyllum rhacodes

I then headed north along a quiet lane towards Stoke Row. In the banks were quite a good range of fungi. The Magpie inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea) seems fairly common in this area of the Chilterns, it likes chalky beech woods.

Magpie inkcap,Coprinopsis picacea,fungi

I then followed Judges Road before cutting north to Stoke Row. I stopped for packed lunch on a bench by Maharajah's Well (pictures no better than ones I previously took here in 2009 and 2011) and then set off north over farmland. A reminder of the season came from berries already out on holly.


Following various paths, I had the unfortunate incident of ripping my trousers while negotiating a stile. Fortunately I was able to continue without outraging public decency any more than usual. I then came to English Lane that was one the one spot there were one or two hedgerow blooms still in bloom. This is Field woundwort (Stachys arvensis), one of the last nettle family members to see still in flower. I had hoped to see some butterflies on these flowers but regret to report I did not see a single one all day.

Field woundwort,Stachys arvensis

One of my perverse delights in these walks is linking up with previous walks, this is particularly pleasing when I manage to join from a new direction. This time I revisited English Farm that I had been to on my previous long walk. The old barn was still looking glorious but for a change I include the picture of the farmhouse.

English Farm

Following a path east along hedgerows and spinneys I noticed an oak tree had considerable mildew and on looking more closely on the underside spotted the strange lumps that are the homes to tiny wasps inside the galls. In this case probably Spangle gall wasp (Neuroterus quercusbaccarum).

Spangle Gall,Neuroterus quercusbaccarum

Howberrywood has the misfortune of a public footpath going straight through their front garden, a new 'permissive' path has been created to take you on a detour but there was only a map showing this after you have reached the far end. The track then enters Nott Wood. I had walked through here five years ago on the way to Nettlebed. This turned out to be very rich in fungi with mushrooms of one sort of another wherever you looked. It was here I spotted a good example of one of my favourites - white coral fungus (Clavulina corallloides).

white coral,Clavulina corallloide,fungi

Very close by, along the same bank and ditch, was another strange fungus. This is Elfin saddle (Helvella crispa) that looks like it has a disease to make it so distorted. The traditional flat mushroom head has become a series of curves and lumps.

Elfin saddle,Helvella crispa,fungi

Here is another example of an Elfin saddle that is more recognisable as a 'mushroom' with its fluted stalk.

Elfin saddle,Helvella crispa,fungi

Through economy of space I shall miss out many of the more 'standard' mushrooms growing there, without picking them and seeing the gills they do not make good pictures. The lane led me down to Newnhamhill Bottom with a glimpse over fields to the woods beginning to turn autumnal.


Along the bottom of the dry valley I spotted another favourite fungus, pure white Porcelain fungus (Oudemansiella mucida) which is fairly distinctive because it is glistens with a film of 'mucus'.

Porcelain fungus,Oudemansiella mucid,fungi

A very common fungus that grows on very decayed wood is Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) {I refuse to use Sulfur}. The yellow/orange tints make it look attractive. It often forms spectacular displays like this one.

Hypholoma fasciculare,Sulphur tuft,fungi

I took a track along Greyhone Wood and here were another spectacular group of white coral fungi.

white coral,Clavulina corallloide,fungi

The last section of walk back to Peppard Common was through Great and Little Bottom woods. By now clouds had come over and the low sun made for insufficient light to spot many fungi. When I paused to look at a map I did find one tiny little fungi. I would not have found it in my main Fungi book had it not been featured on the cover of another book. I think it is Little Wheel toadstool (Marasmius rotula) looking unusual as it grows out of a tiny plant stem.

Little Wheel toadstool,Marasmius rotula,fungi

When the sun did come out it showed the beech woods still pretending it was late summer.


The shafts of sunlight highlighted some fungi I would not have otherwise spotted. I think this little beauty is Rosy bonnet (Mycena rosea).

Rosy bonnet,Mycena rose,fungi

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