FUNGUS FORAY, 27th OCTOBER, 1962. TUNSTALL FOREST by
F. W .
ON a cold but fine Saturday afternoon a fungus foray was held in the extensive coniferous plantations of Tunstall Forest. Although many of the species were nearly over owing to the moist and cool summer members were still able to see a large selection of very colourful and interesting species, representing a number of families and genera of the main class, Basidiomycetes, of the larger British fungi. Both edible and poisonous species were collected. The majority of fungi are non-poisonous and only a few are dangerous to eat. However never sample any fungus unless absolutely sure of its identity and properties, and it is also most important that all are in a fresh condition. The populĂ¤r beliefs and tests setting out the difference between edible and poisonous kinds are not very reliable and should not be followed as a true guide. An edible fungus is often called a mushroom and a poisonous or unknown fungus a toadstool. In Tunstall Forest the genus Amanita was much in evidence, partly owing to the attractive appearance and size of the species. Some are very poisonous and confusing to amateurs. Species seen were Amanita muscari (Fly Agaric,) poisonous, A. pantherina and A. phalloides (Death Cap), which is perhaps the most deadly of all British fungi and has been eaten in mistake for " Mushrooms " with fatal results. " Milk " Toadstools of the genus Lactarius were easily recognised by the bleeding of a " milk " or latex when the flesh or gills were damaged. The edible Lactarius deliciosus with orange " milk " was collected, also the poisonous or doubtful L. rufus, L. quietus and L. plumbeus. The genus Russula comprises species with brightly coloured caps, often red, and white brittle gills which do not bleed. We found the poisonous Russula emetica (The Sickener), with one of the brightest of scarlet caps, also R. atropurpurea, in abundance, and R. ochroleuca, a dirty faded yellow cap, much favoured by slugs. Species of the genus Hygrophorus are often of a moist and waxy appearance and favour mossy and grassy rides and paths. We saw Hygrophorus virgineus, H. coccineus, a very attractive red and H. nemoreus. Paxillus involutus was one of the most frequent and widely distributed fungi ; as it is a " dry " kind it lasts well.
Clitocybe aurantiaca (False Chantarelle), a bright but small orange-yellow species, was also plentiful. Stropharia aeruginosa (Verdigris Agaric), was found. It is said to be poisonous. The slimy cap is rather an attractive bluish-green flecked with white, turning yellow when old. Other gill fungi included : Amanitopsis fulva, mellea, Collybia velutipes, a winter species, Hypholoma Coprinus atramentarius and Gomphidius viscidus.
The Boleti or " Bun " fungi were rather over but we saw Boletus scaber, B. variegatus and B. bovinus. Two species of Club or Coral fungi (Ciavaria) occurred on the ground among grass, C. inaequalis and C. vermicularis. Puff balls were represented by Lycoperdon gemmatum and L. echinatum. The evil smelling Stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus, was to the fore during the afternoon both fully developed examples and those in the " egg " stage. These notes will perhaps give some indication of the wealth and variety of fungi found in this habitat and I hope stimulate more interest in our rather neglected Cryptogams.