Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Flies from Poison Pie

The poison pie fungus (Hebeloma crustuliniforme) which I have kept in a small breeding cage has produced about a dozen Exechia fusca, a common fungus gnat which I have caught several times before in our garden and elsewhere.

The pictures below are of a male (above) and a female showing the marked difference in body colour.

20111214 Exechia fusca male 015

20111214 Exechia fusca female 010

This species has larvae that breed in many different larger toadstools and F. W. Edwards writing in 1926 recorded it from the poison pie Hebeloma.

Making a positive identification of insects like this requires some care.  It ran down readily enough in Edwards, but that was published nearly a century ago and many more species of Exechia have been added to the British list since then.  In this case I checked in Alexander Zaitzev's Fungus gnats (Diptera, Sciaroidea) of the fauna of Russia and adjacent regions. Part II published (in English) in St. Petersburg in 2003.  Getting this book was rather more difficult than getting E. fusca, but through illustrations of the genitalia it does clinch the identity.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Another Ectopsocus petersi

My breeding experiment with the fungus Hebeloma crustuliniforme today produced one small barklouse, Ectopsocus petersi which I have previously recorded from the window box in November 2009, also at a period when there was a rich crop of fungi.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The year's final coppice cut

20111203 Wbx after pruning

Today I cut back the remaining sallows.  Instead of tying the twigs together in a bundle, I have scattered them over the surface of the window box as I think this may encourage more microfungi, as well as making them easier to see when they do appear.

Larger fungi continue to flourish and another small poison pie (Hebeloma crustuliniforme) has appeared near the little pond.

As the picture shows, the window box is starting to collapse.  The rims at the front and rear are peeling away and there is a split where the front side joins the base.  I often wonder about how to address this problem and think that somehow I must find another container to put the box in.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More fungi and a vetch

A finger of candle-snuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) has emerged from the top of the sallow log looking, as I suppose it is meant to, like a snuffed out wick.

20111126 Wbx Xylaria hypoxylon  003

More poison pies (Hebeloma crustuliniforme) are appearing and the one in the picture below has grown quite large and it easy to see how it could be mistaken for a field mushroom.  I have picked it before rapid decay sets in and have it in a container to see if I can breed any fungus gnats (Mycetophilidae) from it, but it does not look very promising.  Perhaps the poison protects it.

20111126 Wbx Hebeloma crustuliniforme

The wintergreen annual hairy tare (Vicia hirsuta), now an occupant of the window box for several years, has managed to grow from one of the cracks on the top of the sallow log, but I  rather doubt if it will get through to flowering after frosts and drought.

20111126 Wbx 007

The rectangular orangey-yellow object bottom right is a chip of hawthorn wood throw out by a chain saw that was being used nearby.  I thought dear reader you needed to know that.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More toadstools and the holly

Over 40 small inkcap fungi have appeared in different parts of the window box. At first I thought they were Coprinellus micaceus (= Coprinus micaceus), the glistening inkcap. Then, on closer inspection, I thought they might be the rather rarer Coprinellus truncorum. Under the lens and the microscope the down, composed of cystidia, was very clear to see. However, further discussion with Martin Allison has confirmed them as C. micaceus20111107  (8) Coprinellus truncorum

Over in the bottom right hand corner of the window box is baby Hebeloma crustuliniforme. These have quite bulbous bases to the stipe, but this develops into a perfect,y straight stalk later on.

20111107  (9) unifentified fungs

I also took a photograph of the holly seedling discovered the other day.

20111107  (10) Wbx holly seedling

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Start of the 7th year

It was on 4th November 2005 that grandson Jamie and I set up the window box with a bag of sterile compost from the local garden centre and a few bits and pieces.

In the last six years I have recorded over 90 species of flora and fauna (including a rabbit) and, as well as several articles and radio broadcasts, it has been on TV several times and travelled to Scotland, Bristol and Boll Oddy's garden in Hampstead.


Today I tied up a bit, taking away some of the dead stalks of the all-embracing hairy tare.  Underneath there were, as usual, some unexpected things.  Earlier in the year I found some poison pie toadstools (Hebeloma crustuliniforme) - see below - identified by the mycologist Martin Allison. 

20111004 Wbx Hebeloma crustuliniforme 2

As the name suggest, they can give you very bad indigestion.

Yesterday there were a couple of very small Marasmius on the mossy bark of the sallow log.  They look like the collared parachute, M. rotula, but are maybe too small and therefore possibly M. bulliardii.  (The moss is common feather-moss, Eurhynchium praelongum.)

20111105 Wbx Marasmius rotula or bulliardii

I also discovered several ivy (Hedera helix) seedlings and one of holly, possibly the garden Highclere holly, Ilex x altaclerensis, rather than our native      I. aquifolium.  I will leave these species to grow though maybe this will produce some management problems in the future.  There was also much creeping bent, Agrostis stolonifera, another new record, and some other developing toadstools, lots of them, that may be honey fungus.  So half a dozen new records: not a bad start to the 7th year.

More on all this tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Spring arrives 2011

The window box looks very brisk and fresh now that the warmer weather is here.  Everything seems to have survived being frozen solid for some time and there is clearly sufficient nutrient, without my adding anything, to keep the plants healthy

20110404 Pilgrims Rest & WBX 008

There is a surprising number of plants in the view above: dandelion, hairy tare, goosegrass, tutsan, wild service, Druce's cranesbill, herb robert, a grass (probably rough meadow grass), smooth hawksbeard.

The dandelion, which is now some years old, is amazing.

20110404 Pilgrims Rest & WBX 013