Field meeting for fungi at Roundshill Wood, Sissinghurst on Saturday 30th October 2021. Led by David Newman
11 members, 2 prospective members and the National Trust’s ranger for the site, Peter Dear met at 10:30 as torrential rain fizzled out and the day brightened into sunshine and the temperature rose to 14 degrees. We are very grateful to Peter for making the arrangements for our visit and to the National Trust for the free use of their car park. Boletus luridiformis now past its best, Lepiota cristata and Tricholoma argyracium were noted just down the path from the car park, and Phil Ambler and Sue noted Abortiporus biennis on some logs close to the garden entrance. The old meadow between the garden and the park was rather under-grazed, and very few fungi were present; Joyce knew this in the past as a good site for waxcaps but only a few Hygrocybe conica, and H. ceracea were found and only Joyce saw Entoloma sericellum. Mario Tortelli found likely Tricholoma quercetorum which is almost identical to T. ustale and with T. ustaloides form a triad which are genetically distinct, probably host specific and he has sent off to Kew for DNA analysis to check if “Host Specific” is a reliable method of distinguishing them in the field. Under this large oak Phil found a Peziza from which David took a small piece for microscopy; macroscopically and microscopically it fitted with P. saccodoanna but on discussion with Joyce it cannot be confirmed with certainty.
We entered the wood well after an hour into the meeting, and the next hour was rather subdued as we passed through woodland with much bramble and other phanerogam cover. After an hour of low productivity, the woodland floor became more open and we found some fallen trees which provided seats for our lunch. This year has been an odd one; the May rain produced a flush of summer fungi which petered out with prolonged drought, and the short periods of rain from September onwards have not produced a great flush, so despite some good fungus meetings, we have had to work hard this autumn. It was after lunch in this older woodland that the interesting species began to be found; Daphne Mills and Mario found the first troop of Cortinarius puniceus - recorded previously as C. sanguineus in the days before DNA analysis showed that that species is only with conifers and C. punieus is with broad-leaved (there ae subtle macroscopic distinctions). Daphne went on to find Sinocybe sumptuosa one of the “piggy-back” fungi on Russula nigricans. This autumn has been notable by the dearth of Russulaceae in Kent, but today fourteen species were found including three species which have variable cap colourings but all had a green cap – R.cyanoxanthera, R.parazurea and R. heterophylla. Nine Lactarius including L. blennius with beech, Lactarius chrysorrheus with bright yellow milk under oak, L. serifluus (= L.subumbonatus), L. tabidus with birch and L. turpis which Mario demonstrated went purple with a drop of ammonia. Seven Amanitas with A. fulva, A. citrina, A. excelsa var spiza, A. muscaria which Phil found the only specimen, A. rubescens, and as the afternoon wore on and we slowly worked our way up the hillside, Joyce found a somewhat tatty but distinctive specimen of A.vaginea. It was here that we added to the Cortinarius numbers with plenty more C. puniceus and C. anthracinus, a nice cluster that Mario later determined as C. falsosus, and a few C. delibutus, C. flexipes and C. mucifluoides to give a total of nine species for the day.
The sun was getting low, the autumn colours were glowing as we came to a small group of mature old beech where we added to our Russula collection with R. mairei, and admired a good group of Oudemansiella mucida. The path ahead was very much steeper and more slippery, it was time to retrace our steps back to the car park, when Judith Shorter trying to find a bird spotted two good clumps of Lion’s Mane, Hericium erinaceus high in one of the beeches. We searched the others but this appeared to be the only tree. In our communications with Peter Dear, he told us it had been known to the Trust for the past 6 years. It was an exciting end to a day that just kept improving.