Posts Tagged ‘Fungi’

Fungi on Plants

March 25, 2018

I noticed leaf spots on cyclamen in the garden which Bruce tells me are caused by Septoria cyclaminis:

Septoria cyclaminis on Cyclamen

Septoria cyclaminis on Cyclamen hederifolium

and yesterday Murdo told me he was finding small black fruiting bodies on dead Narthecium ossifragum (Bog Asphodel). A quick look today confirmed that they all seem to have them:

narth ossi fungus

There are at least four fungi recorded as growing on this plant in the Hebrides, so I shall await Bruce’s verdict on this one. Later: Bruce says it “appears to be Microdiplodia narthecii.  I have not noticed it myself but I expect that it is widespread.  There are several records from further south a century ago.”

Musings on Mycoheterotrophs

March 13, 2018

The recent rediscovery of a plant called Thismia neptunis (Fairy Lanterns) in western Sarawak, 151 years after its only previous record (doi.org/ck3p) leads me to blog about “mycoheterotrophs”.

Thismia neptunis

Thismia neptunis            Image from M Sochor et al.

These are plants like T. neptunis that parasitise fungi and generally have no or very little chlorophyll and therefore cannot make their own food. Until quite recently these plants were commonly called saprophytes – though there was never any experimental evidence to support the myth that these plants derive their carbon directly from decaying plant material. Even the New Atlas of the British Flora (Preston et al., 2002) describes the four higher-plant species of mycoheterotroph in the UK (Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid), Corallorhiza trifida (Coralroot Orchid), Epipogium aphyllum (Ghost Orchid) and Hypopitys monotropa (Yellow Bird’s-nest)) as ‘saprophytic perennial herbs of leaf litter’.

Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid) is recorded from Skye and Raasay in a few locations – seen here near Fiskavaig in 2009:

Neot nid Skye 2009 2

The mycoheterotrophs comprise over 400 plant species in 87 genera that are parasitic upon fungi, and exploit them as their principle source of carbon. In addition, there are estimated to be over 30,000 species, comprising approximately 10% of the plant kingdom, that depend upon mycoheterotrophy for establishment from dust seeds or spores. (Jonathan R. Leake, Mycologist, Volume 19, Part 3 August 2005 p113-122.)

So ….. never call a vascular plant a saprophyte!

Skye Nature Group – First Meeting

October 19, 2017

We were fortunate with the weather for the inaugural meeting in Kinloch Woods led by Steve Terry, which 11 people attended. Lichens and fungi took a lot of our interest but we spotted various other things as well.

We found Erica vagans (Cornish Heath) growing by the forest track – presumably escaped form Kinloch Lodge – or deliberately planted. There is only one previous record for Skye and that is vague both in date and location (1987-1999, NG44) and may be an error. I will look into that in more detail.

Erica vagans Kinloch

Erica vagans

There is more on the Skye Naturalists’ Network Facebook page and we are hoping to start a Skye Nature Group blog soon. My other contributions included this rather common bug that I knocked off hazel leaves (Anthocoris nemorum (Common Flower Bug)):

Anthocoris nemorum

Anthocoris nemorum

though I notice that three of the four previous post-1999 records for VC104 on the NBN Atlas are mine(!) and a leaf spot fungus on Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) that I have yet to get named. Later: Ramularia variabilis . Thanks, Bruce.

LS on Digitalis

No Trees

October 4, 2017

Yesterday, I went looking for Sorbus rupicola (Rock Whitebeam) at some known sites in the Elgol and Kilmarie/Drinan areas. I didn’t find any. However, I do know one very good site for it around there – and there is plenty of possible ground to cover, at least in one area.  It grows on cliffs and is usually only present in small numbers. One day I shall have another go.

However, it was a good day. I checked several areas of roadside for Juncus bufonius/ranarius and was relieved to find that they were all the former which is what I have been commonly recording. Whilst J. ranarius is to be found in that habitat, it appears to be in the minority.

I am always pleased to see Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), which is always coastal here:

Carex otrubae Elgol

Carex otrubae at Elgol

I was briefly uncertain as to the identity of a thicket on the hillside, but when I got close, it turned out to have arisen from a fallen Gean (Prunus avium):

Prunus avium thicket

Some of the larger stems are showing the distinctive bark:

Prunus avium bark

Near Kilmarie and Drinan some Parnassia palustris (Grass-of-Parnassus) was still in flower:

Parnassia Kilmarie area 171003.jpg

Parnassia palustris

Less welcome was the large number of Cotoneaster integrifolius (Entire-leaved Cotoneaster) plants:

Cotoneaster integrifolius S of Kilmarie

Cotoneaster integrifolius

I recorded a number of plant pathogenic fungi. This sycamore leaf has Rhytisma acerinum (Tar Spot), Cristulariella depraedens (Sycamore White Spot) and galls caused by mites:

Sycamore leaf with fungi & galls

Roadside Mud

September 7, 2017

On Tuesday, I toured quite a large part of Skye peering at muddy roadsides. My principal aim was to improve coverage for Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed) – so much easier than clambering along the rocky coasts that seem to be its natural habitat here. It seems to like the larger roads, perhaps because they get more salt, and is usually associated with Juncus bufonius (Toad Rush) and Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed).

My Chaffweed Tour resulted in a record for one new 10 km square (NG62 in two sites) and records in two 10 km squares with no post-2000 records: NG33 and NG61.

In passing I made the first record in NG60 for Polygonum arenastrum (Equal-leaved Knotgrass). This is our common representative of the P. aviculare aggregate though P. aviculare sensu stricto does also occur. It likes ruderal habitats – tracks, field gates and muddy roadsides.

I intend to repeat the exercise next year in the northern parts of Skye I didn’t reach this week and where there are several 10 km squares with no records for Chaffweed.

I gave myself a little light relief and visited Tarskavig Bay, where I had last been in 2006, I had forgotten that it had nice things like Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush), Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) and Persicaria amphibia (Amphibious Bistort) as well as the locally very uncommon Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort) (Six sites in VC104 post-1999). I was pleased to find Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) still in flower – another uncommon species on Skye.

In Tarskavig some Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting) has escaped from a garden. There are only two earlier records for this on Skye, one of which was within Lyndale House grounds, which feels a bit dodgy to me.

Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting)

I was checking more Calystegia (Bindweeds) and found some infected with the fungus Septoria convolvuli, which seems to be locally common.

Septoria convolvuli on calystegia sepium

Septoria convolvuli on Calystegia sepium

 

White Spindles

September 3, 2017

Returning to Coir an t-Seasgaich  for some bryophyte work with Nick, I spotted Clavaria fragilis (= Clavaria vermicularis) at about 500m.  This has a variety of common names: fairy fingers, white worm coral, or white spindles and I last saw it on Dun Caan, Raasay two years ago.

Clavaria fragilis

Clavaria fragilis

Maybe it should be called Bean Sprouts.

Two Additions

August 28, 2017

During my walk to Meall Port on Saturday I noticed two fungi on Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle). Bruce tells me one is rare on Cirsium:

Cirs het 1

Pustula tragopogonis

and the other, the rust Puccinia cnici-oleracei, is also uncommon:

Cirs het 2

Puccinia cnici-oleracei

Other Botanists’ Efforts

June 23, 2017

I have been away all week for family reasons but the great work continues…..

Nick has visited tetrad NG36Q near his home where there were only 11 previous records, all from before 2000.  He recorded 140 taxa yesterday, so that is one tetrad I do not have to worry about. He found Carex caryophyllea (Spring-sedge) which has rather few records on Skye and may be something for which I have a bit of a blind spot.

He also found what I think is Puccinia moliniae on Prunella vulgaris (Selfheal):

Puccinia moliniae on Prunella vulgaris

Puccinia moliniae on Prunella vulgaris Photo: N Hodgetts

P. moliniae.… guess the other host….

Also, Karen has sent me some nice pictures of the Saxifraga cespitosa (Tufted Saxifrage) and Woodsia alpina (Alpine Woodsia) from the Trotternish Ridge earlier in the month.

 

A Week on Muck

June 18, 2017

I have just spent a rather wet and windy week on Muck with the Inverness Botany Group. I decided to record on a monad (1 km square) basis as there are only 13 and none has 100% land. However, it spreads over four 10km squares, three of which have no other land in VC 104. We made over 1,800 records and as well as re-finding old records of many species, we added Carex extensa (Long-bracted Sedge), Carex limosa (Bog-sedge), Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) and Valeriana officinalis (Common Valerian) to the Muck list.

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory), distinguished by its large flowers but small stipules, was a good find with only two previous sites (on Muck and Eigg) in VC104 and no record since 1999.

Fumaria bastardii Muck

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory)

Some Myriophyllum in  brackish pools led me to hope for M. spicatum for which there are no accepted records for VC 104, as this is the habitat in which it is found on Coll and Tiree and the Outer Isles.

However, the inflorescence being <3cm and the tip drooping in bud plus the basal whorl of flowers being in leaf-like pinnatisect bracts then others in pectinate bracts, tells me that it is the locally frequent M. alterniflorum.

Muck Myriophyllum 3

We also recorded a number of insects, mammals…..

The Belted Beauty has yet to be recorded on Skye.

Also fungi, some of which are awaiting identification….

Later: Bruce tells me the fungus on Silene flos-cuculi is Septoria lychnidis, or as NBN has it Caryophylloseptoria lychnidis, and that it is found on other members of the genus too.

Back Home

June 8, 2017

Bruce has identified this fungus on our Bay (Laurus nobilis) as Phomopsis lauri, which he says is surprisingly rare.

Laurus nobilis upper lf surface

Phomopsis lauri on Bay

I found this hoverfly in the conservatory which, subject to final inspection, Murdo says is Scaeva selenitica, and “I have found that only four times before, and not since 2012”.

The NBN distribution map looks like this:

Scaeva selenitica map

What one can find without leaving house and garden…..