Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Mushrooms and other fungi brighten up the garden

Honey fungus - Armillaria mellea
The vegetable garden is still looking relatively good; cosmos blooms are just about hanging on, nasturtiums are brighter than ever, lots of tall yellow flowers have grown from the green manure mix. Autumn-sown broad beans, onions and garlic are all putting on lots of new growth.

But mushrooms are the stars of the show and there’s a profusion at the base of the dead sycamore tree. I didn't know what they were but have since been told they are honey fungus. Beneath the bark there is a mass of winding black bootlaces which I had always referred to as honey fungus but they are part of the same organism.

An 'earth tongue' called Geoglossum fallax

On the front lawn are many different kinds of waxcaps plus two strange-looking types of club fungus. 
A yellow club fungus
Clavulinopsis helvola

At first I thought the black one was ‘dead man’s fingers’ but my ID guide says they grow on wood. These are growing on grass so are a type of ‘earth tongue’ – although having said that, they might be growing out of a dead tree-root beneath the grass? Complicated stuff this natural history. Next to the black is a bright yellow one. 

Sunday 30th November 2014.

The earth tongues and the club fungus have faded, but are still hanging around, whereas the honey fungus is a strong-smelling and very slippery pile of mush at the base of the tree. The person who kindly told me the names of the above said that it was tantalising that I had mentioned many different kinds of waxcaps, but without saying which ones. These are photos of the four I was able to find today.


  1. Having consulted the experts (Andrew Graham and Maredudd ap Rheinallt), the one growing at the base of the sycamore is Honey fungus. Andrew says it is edible but I'm not recommending it! It will of course attack other trees and shrubs.
    The black Earth's tongues are Geoglossum fallax. The yellow one is a Fairy club, probably Clavulinopsis helvola.
    Lovely photos, Huw. Thanks.

  2. Maredudd says these are:
    1. Meadow waxcap
    2. Glutinous waxcap (provided it is small, about 1 in)
    3 ??
    4. Pink waxcap (Pixie cap)