Staying local

In the first lockdown it was revealing just how much nature was all around me. I didn’t need to spend ages preparing or travelling because wonderful finds were on my doorstep, or in the park at the end of the road, or bursting out of the local industrial estate. One of my favourite spots is just outside my front door, where the remains of a churchyard show all the signs of having that rarest of rare habitats; unimproved grassland. It has been a pleasure to explore it and find beautiful fungi there:

Having said that, my neighbours must thing I’ve lost something, given I wander the churchyard looking intensely at the ground. They may think I’ve lost my mind but, by engaging with nature, I’ve actually found my mind. Today we went in search of a fungus which the Puffin Whisperer had spotted under the trees.

At first I thought it might be one of these beauties, a Pestle Puffball, which I found in the same churchyard a year ago:

But it isn’t. I suspect it’s a Scaly Earthball, Scleroderma verrucosum. It’s a very large and beautiful example. Here’s my phone photo:

Scleroderma - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Scleroderma means hard skin and verrucosum means warty (like verrucas). I find the name Scaly Earthball a little disappointing. I decide I’m going to call it the Baked Potato fungus until I find there’s a similar species called the Potato Earthball. Oh well. I’m told that to be sure of the species I need to test what colour it turns if I drop potassium hydroxide on it. How random is that?

I’m off to find out where I can get caustic potash and a pipette in a pandemic. See you tomorrow for another local adventure.

More Fungi

Red Belted Conk - Fomitopsis pinicola - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) A Red Belted Conk There's the familiar orange-red band on this Red Belted Conk. Lovely, isn't it? Its scientific name is Fomitopsis pinicola. It… read more
Purple Curtain Crust - Chondrostereum purpureum - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Purple Curtain Crust I do love a good fungusy twig. Here's one with Purple Curtain Crust, Chondrostereum purpureum, rippling on it like a… read more
Date Waxcap - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) One of Britain’s rarest fungi So you think it doesn't look like much? I think it looks fabulous. It's growing in the short grass around… read more
Apricot Club Fungus - Clavulinopsis luteoalba - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Yellow fingers grow from the short sward There are apricot-yellow fingers of fungus growing in the short sward at Emsworthy Mire. Fabulous, aren't they? They are the… read more
Deadly Webcap - Cortinarius rubellus - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Deadly Here's a fungus you should learn to identify if you're interested in foraging and eating wild fungi. It's the Deadly… read more
Orange Peel Fungus - Aleuria aurantia - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Orange Peel Fungus Orange Peel Fungus, Aleuria aurantia, is unmistakable. Just look at it: I've written about it before, and posted beautiful illustrations… read more
Mycena seynii - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Pine-cone Bonnet The Pine-cone Bonnet, Mycena seynii, is a beautiful fairy-bonnet cap which grows on pine cones. It's so beautiful I wish… read more
Spectacular Rustgill - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Spectacular Rustgill There's a strange group of fungi on this dead tree stump in the grounds of Exeter University. I'm out again… read more
Rhodocollybia maculata - Spotted Toughshank - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Spotted Toughshanks There are fungi I don't recognise in the woods. They look as if they've been given a little too much… read more

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