One to look out for

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Chris Yeates
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One to look out for

Post by Chris Yeates » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:50 pm

Some weeks back my old Yorkshire mycological colleague Jerry Cooper ... 9vcGVyag== was over in the UK and stayed with me for a couple of days in my Scarborough flat. We had a walk round the area noting how many NZ plants were present in the formal and semi-formal gardens above the South Bay.

At one point he dived into a pile of dead leaves, had a quick look and, with a smile, handed me what I at first thought to be a myxo on a dead ivy leaf*. The latter turned out to be a leaf of Griselinia littoralis (much planted in Scarborough), and the "myxo" was Physalacria stilboidea, a fungus Jerry of course knows well in NZ. So second (actually third - see below) UK record. Since then I've had a rootle around and found the fungus in several other spots in the South Cliff Gardens area, always present on dead leaves at the right state of decay.

I contacted Martyn Ainsworth at Kew and he said he had also learned of another record earlier this year made by Charles Aron on Anglesey. Martyn has since gone on to find it himself, again on Griselinia, from Woodingdean, E of Brighton. So the fungus has been found in four widely separated coastal areas, and appears to be common wherever the host occurs. So I would encourage others to look out for it - not necessarily in coastal areas, although Griselinia does appear to be more frequently planted in such areas. The host is quite easy to recognise. As can be seen the fungus develops as a pale patch of fungal tissue in the centre of tiny dark brown leaf-spots. As the stipe develops it often leaves a volva-like base; the globose head appears bristly from the presence of numerous cystidia.

Physalacria is the type genus of the family Physalacriaceae, which includes gilled fungi like Armillaria, Flammulina and Strobilurus, and also resupinate fungi. More on the taxonomic stuff will follow . . .

PS * The first UK find was from another seaside town, Salcombe in Devon. I wonder if the substrate, thought then to be Hedera, might also have been Griselinia. The leaves in Scarborough were a mixture of the two, and superficially they can look similar (hence my initial mistake). A NZ host would make more sense . . .
Physalacria stilboidea 0a.jpg
"You must know it's right, the spore is on the wind tonight"
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Wood Wanderer
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Re: One to look out for

Post by Wood Wanderer » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:27 am

Very interesting Chris, Griselinia is quite a common garden plant although as you say more likely to be cultivated near the coast.

Having said that I used to have one in my Warwickshire garden until it decided against the winter frosts we always get ....

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