Summer warmth and a few heavy showers have triggered the growth of some small fungi on our dewy back lawn this morning. They’re going to get trimmed off when I get around to cutting the lawn so I pick them to draw and to take some close-ups using my USB microscope.
The cap which is about a centimetre across is smooth with no trace of ridges. It has dark brown gills, which I’d describe as distant as opposed to close or crowded.
In this photograph the gills are emarginate, meaning that there is a notch where they attach to the stem. But the notch isn’t as clear in this cross section of the cap;
The circular stem is hollow and there’s no swelling at its base.
The pattern of growth, as far as I can judge by this little group, is trooping. I couldn’t see any trace of a fairy ring starting to form.
I’m taking spore prints which might help narrow down what kind of fungus it is.
My thanks to Steve Clements for this suggestion;
Most likely a Mottlegill (Panaeolus or Panaeolina) – the commonest one on mown grass round my part of Sheffield is Brown Hay Cap – Panaeolina foenesecii – which is supposed to be slightly hallucinogenic. The spores are blackish, and warted (under the microscope). The gills look mottled under a hand lens.
The Collins Guide calls this species Brown Mottlegill and adds that the ‘dark brown-black’ spores are ‘ellip to lemon-shaped’ which is how they look in 200x photograph that I took with my microscope.
The Garden Snail, Helix aspersa, has a thin, lightweight shell but that still looks cumbersome as it explores a fern-filled crevice in an old wall (see previous posts). As I drew it from a photograph that I’d taken this morning I noticed traces of damage to the shell with what appears to be a healed break in the rim and hairline fracture on the ‘back’ of its shell.
I imagine it being surprised, perhaps by a bird, retracting into its shell then falling from the wall onto the pavement below.
A second snail clung precariously to the base of the stems of Common Ragwort, growing from a crevice near the top of the six foot high wall amongst the fronds of Rusty-back Fern and Wall Rue.
The Rusty-back fern, Ceterach officinarum, has rusty scales on the backs of its leaves. These cover the spore-producing sori and probably help prevent the fern from drying out. During dry spells the fronds roll in at the edges.
Growing to just few inches, this fern is found in dry crevices in limestone and in old mortared walls. A small colony grows on a north-east facing sandstone wall on Station Road, Ossett.
It is best grown in a cold frame, potted rather high, among loam mixed with a large proportion of brick-rubbish, and not over-watered.
Thomas More, British Ferns, 1861
Rusty-back fern is a member of the spleenwort family and was used to treat diseases of the spleen. Legend has it that Cretan sheep with spleen disorders would greedily devour its rootstock.
It’s scientific name Ceterach is said to derive from the Arabic ‘Cheterak’ the name that Eastern physicians used for this plant.
THERE WERE at least half a dozen Large Yellow Underwings in the moth trap this morning plus some of their smaller relatives but this is the first time that I’ve seen the Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Notcua fimbriata. This is a male; the female is paler.
It’s more typical of wooded areas than gardens but as the foodplants of its larvae include docks, nettles, brambles, sallows and willows it’s not surprising that it has turned up here.