Fungi are popping up everywhere, so it's time to get the microscope dusted down, ready for the new season.
The mushrooms that we see are the visible fruit-bodies of the actual fungus, which is usually underground or buried deep inside some substrate, such as wood. The fungus itself will stay in the same place as long as its partner or food source continues to be available: that explains why a particular mushroom can continue to be found in exactly the same location year after year. I'm now beginning to expect my usual crop of Phaeolepiota aurea on the same spot on my lawn at the same time every year. This is a rather scarce mushroom, which is thought to be a nettle associate:
Recent studies on Phaeolepiota aurea have confirmed that compounds of cyanide remain in the mushroom, even after cooking, so it has been added to the list of 'poisonous' fungi.
Spore prints are one of the basic tools in identification of fungi, and the spores of some species give very strong clues about an identification. This is the spore print of a new species to me: Stropharia aurantiaca.
|Spores of Stropharia aurantiaca at x400|
Stropharia aurantiaca is a relatively recently-named (1930's) fungus which appears in bark and sawdust that has been used as a top-surface mulch on flowerbeds. In this case it's in a local supermarket car park It has been found numerous times in Northern Ireland, but I can't find any previous records from Ireland.
I'll try to get an in-situ shot later today.