This striking yellow and black fly looked to me like a wasp-impersonating hoverfly when I first saw it but it turned out to be neither! It is just a fly despite that bold appearance. It is one of the family called soldier flies because of the smart uniform they wear.
This species was recently given the common name of the Banded General. Its larvae feed on algae and rotting vegetable matter in very damp areas so you will often find the fly itself in similar habitat either on the ground laying eggs or perhaps nectaring on nearby umbellifer flowers such as Hemlock-water Dropwort, Hogweed and Angelica.
One of three similar species so one need a careful eye to distinguish which one, the 'eye' that helped me with this one was the I-Spot website!
If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title
- I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!
31 December, 2012
This striking yellow and black fly looked to me like a wasp-impersonating hoverfly when I first saw it but it turned out to be neither! It is just a fly despite that bold appearance. It is one of the family called soldier flies because of the smart uniform they wear.
If you take the trouble to look you will find this little fly sunbathing on the leaves of hedgerow plants in summer. They are also often seen feeding on the pollen from Hogweed in late summer.
Part of a family commonly known as Soldier Flies because of their bright colouring supposedly resembling military uniforms this one has been named the Broad Centurion. It has a flattened body with a square 'tail' end.
The fly itself is a wonderful metallic green that glistens in the sun. The male has a bronze sheen to the abdomen whereas the female has a more bluish colouring.
The grubs feed on leaf litter and other material in damp ground so the fly prefers wetter areas around woodland edges and hedges which have ditches.
Find out more here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Broad%20Centurion%...
One tends to think of crane-flies as resting with their wings open and at right-angles to the body and this is, indeed, a typical trait of the larger crane-flies of the common Tipulidae family. However, there are several species where this is not the case as you can see from this species, Limonia nubeculosa, Those folded back wings hide a small, slender body and long legs and they can look a bit like large mosquitoes! These are, though, quite harmless.
Mainly a woodland species, they can be found at any time of year but less so in winter of course. The larvae feed on rotting leaf litter, fungi and so on and are an integral part of the woodland recycling system.
Find out more here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Crane%20Fly%20%5BL...
This is one of the range of flies known as snipe-flies but I cannot find the origins of why they are called this. They tend to rest head downwards so may be it something related to that?
This particular species is one of twelve in the genera and is called the Black Snipe-fly because many of this group are quite brightly coloured whereas this one is not! A fairly common species in damp, shady woodland found from May through until August. Its larvae live in rotting wood and leaf litter where they are predators of other small insects and invertebrates.
They do like to sunbathe as adults and this one was by the river at Kingcombe where it runs through the woodland, text book habitat!
Find out more here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Black%20Snipe%20Fly
02 August, 2012
Some grasses can be mistaken for reeds because we associate big, fluffy flower heads with the Common Reed, Phragmytes. Phragmytes is actually a grass despite its name and so lovely big flowers like this one are actually grasses.
This particular species of grass, is then, really confusing because, although a grass, it is called a small-reed, that despite the fact it grows quite tall and is not small at all! To add to the confusion, although being the Wood Small-reed it actually prefers rough grassy pasture on heavy soils although I believe it can be found in damp woods. So Its common name is not appropriate at all which makes remembering it that much more difficult.
Despite all this, it is a lovely plant and well worth taking some time to look at and admire.
Find out more about the Wood Small-reed in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Wood%20Small-reed
This bumblebee has no common name but if it did it could justifiably be called the heathland bumblebee. It is very similar to other light coloured tailed bumblebees, especially Bombus hortorum (the Small Garden Bumblebee) but it has two buff bands on the thorax. The pollen sacks tend to be orange rather than yellow. It is quite a small bee and very active, rarely settling anywhere for long as it works its way around the heather flowers.
This is an early emerging species and in spring it loves to indulge in the flowers of sallow but can also be found in gardens, especially where there are winter flowering heathers to be raided.
Find out more about Bombus jonellus in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Bumblebee%20%28B%2...
In general I am pretty positive about nature; I try to find some beauty or wonder in everything but what can I find to like about this? It is ugly, dirty and evil! It is a parasitic fly called Tachina grossa and it is certainly gross. It is quite common on heathland in August and September and in flight it looks like a bumble-bee but when it settles it becomes quite obvious very quickly that it is not a cute little furry insect but a rather disgusting fly.
It parasitises large caterpillars by laying its eggs inside them. The larvae then eat the insides of the caterpillar before pupating and overwintering as a pupae. Given its liking for large caterpillars and heathland I expect the large, woolly caterpillar of the fox moth is a favoured target as they, too, are quite common in late summer.
However unpleasant it still has a role to play in the wider scheme of things and so I guess its 'live and let live'!
Find out more about Tachina grossa in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Parasitic%20fly%20...[T%20grossa]/nid&view_path=species_panel/Parasitic%20fly%20[T%20gr ossa]&view_base_path=species_master_basic&view_dom_id=2&pa ger_element=0&view_display_id=page_1
21 July, 2012
This is one of the most unusual spiders I have seen! A triangular body, pink and purple in colour, with enormous legs. You would think that being such a distinctive colour it would stand out and be easy pickings for any preditor but that is far from the case. This spider is found only in southern England. They are usually on heather and so they are perectly disguised and hard to see. They can actually vary their colour from white, through yellow to various shades of pink and this one had deserted the heather for a thistle and so was, perhaps, a little more atoned to its host plant.
This is not a web builder, instead it depends on that colour match to make it invisible to small insects so that any insect coming to the flower for nectar for lunch is soon lunch for the spider. It's tough out there!
Find out more about the Heather Spider in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Heather%20Spider?v...
18 July, 2012
Thorncombe Wood, near Hardy's Cottage at Lower Bockhampton, has many splendid beech trees and this fungus, the Southern Bracket grows on living Beech. It is parasatic so sadly it means that the tree this one was on is an advanced state of decay now although the trunk still stands high and proud but the branches are all but gone. Quite an imprerssive species, the brackets on this group were over a foot across. This is a species that can occur at any time of the year, they start clean and fresh like these but soon harden to become dark brown and dirty yellow!
Not one for the pot I'm afraid.
Find out more about the Southern Bracket in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Southern%20Bracket...
17 July, 2012
I love rummaging around piles of dead wood and tree stumps. I am not that good on fungi identification but I find them fascinating and you never quite know what you will find. This lovely green, brown and white one was new to me when I saw it for the first time on Greenhill Down; quite appropriate a green fungus on Greenhill Down? Thanks to my excellent new book, the Collins Fungi Guide, I had it sewn up in no time, the Yellowing Curtain Crust! An occasional species on rotting broad-leaved tree debris found mainly in the south east of England so right on the dge of its range here in Dorset then.
The flesh is leathery and tough, and hard when dry. Not one for the table then.
Find out more about the Yellowing Curtain Crust in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Yellowing%20Curtai...
The Fragile Russula is one of the later species of the family appearing in late autumn and early winter. It is very common and appears in all kinds of woodland settings but with a distinct preference for birch which makes it common here in the damper Dorset woods where Silver Birch thrives. A lovely deep purple, flat cap with central dimple and with edging marks around the rim. It has quite a narrow stem for the size of the cap so it tends to fall over easily, hence the fragile russula.
It has a very hot, acid taste and best left alone.
Find out more about the Fragile Russula in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Fragile%20Russula?...
Russulas tend to like damp woodland with pine and birch trees to thrive on; emetica is no exception. Preferring acid soils this is a common fungus of the heaths of Dorset, especially those areas that hacve been forested. It can often be found in places that are damp enough for Sphagnum mosses to grow. A widespread and common fungus that appears in troops in the autumn. It is very much like some other species of russula so habitat is quite a key factor in identification.
Edible? No, certainly not. It is very poisonous; called the sickener for good reason.
Find out more about the Sickener in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Sickener?vdt=speci...
The Grey Milkcap is a bit unusual as it likes to get its feet wet. Found on wet soils, usually in association with varieties of Sphagnum mosses in woodlan areas. A late summer and autumn species it is quite common where the right conditions exist. A distinct funnel shape that starts whitish in colour but truns a greyish-brown with age.
A vile, acrid taste; best left alone.
Find out more about the Grey Milk-cap in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Grey%20Milk-cap?vd...
16 July, 2012
The Fleecy Milkcap is a large, funnel shaped fungus. It can be anything from 3 to 11 inches across the cap which is whitish at first but then tends to turn ochre with age. Often found near birch and pine so quite at home in the woods of the Dorset heaths. Fairly common and appearing in autumn in small groups.
It is not edible; it tastes horrible.
Find out more about the Fleecy Milkcap in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Fleecy%20Milk-cap?...
A fungus of the coniferous woods which means, in Dorset, on Forestry Commision managed land. Associated mainly with forms of pine trees on acidic soils this is a very common species in, and around, the Poole basin and the Purbeck area. Appearing in late summer and autumn, it is often found in large troops. The cap is generally flat with a small dimple in the middle and tinged russet, hence the Rufous Milk-cap; the other milk-caps tend to be white, grey or brown.
It has a mild taste at first but with an after-bite! Acrid and hot ...
Find out more about the Rufous Milkcap in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Rufous%20Milk-cap?...
The presence of coniferous woodland on the acidic soils of the Poole Basin, especially in Purbeck, means that the False Chanterelle is a very common fungus here. It appears in troops, often in circles, amongst pine needles. It can occur in other habitat types but it is most common on the heaths. It looks very much like the classic Chanterelle of French cuisine but it is not related.
Not poisonous but apparently it tastes foul!
Find out more about the False Chanterelle in Dorset here:
The Brown Rollrim is the only common representative of the Paxillaceae family, the other five are scarce and two are very difficult to identify and have only recently become regarded as seperate species to the Brown Rollrim itself. Paxillus involutus is a very common species however, found in mixed and broad-leaved woodland in summer and autumn. They have a distinct preference for acidic soils and birch and so are quite common on the Purbeck heaths although they are just as at home on downland. Usually in groups.
They may look tasty but be warned, they are poisonous!
Find out more about the Brown Rollrim in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Brown%20Rollrim?vd...
15 July, 2012
Perlatum; like a pearl. When young the Common Puffball is almost pure white and has a dappled appearance which, together with its shape, does recall a pearl so hence its name. It is the Common Puffball because it is, by far, the most frequently encountered member of the family. Found in summer and autumn, often in large groups, this species likes woodland where there are plenty of rotting branches and twigs. The fruiting body appears on the soil or leaflitter but there will likely be dead wood nearby where the fungus itself is at work. The common use of bark chippings as a mulch means that this is now quite a common species in gardens.
Edible when young but that is when they look their loveliest.
Find out more about the Common Puffball in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Common%20Puffball?...
The Mosaic Puffball is a species of acidic soils and can be found on short turf and path edges on heathland here in Dorset. The book reckons it is common but my limited experience of fungi tells me it is not seen that often! A summer and autumn species it is a bit difficult to tell apart from another species, Lycoperdon excipuliforme; utriforme being somewhat slimmer than the plumper expulsiforme and so I have based my identification on that. It starts white but soon turns a dull greyish brown.
Supposedly edible when young but how do you decide how old they are?
Find out more about the Mosaic Puffball in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Mosaic%20Puffball?...
You cannot mistake the Giant Puffball for any other species, it is truly unique. The dome can be a foot or more in diameter; they are like giant Ostrich eggs! My book says they can actually grow up to 80cms across which is huge and that, from a distance, they can even be mistaken for sleeping sheep! They are almost pure white but soon discolour or become pitted as they are attacked by insects. Widespread and, apparently common, they can be found on soil in grassy habitats especially near stinging nettles which are an indicator of phosphate rich soil which this species thrives on.
You can eat them when young but surely better left to let them reach their full potential?
Find out more about the Giant Puffball in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Giant%20Puffball?v...
As the leaves turn to the colours of autumn, on the woodland floor fungi begin to burst from the soil and leaf litter. At the forefront of this emergence is the Stump Puffball. In broad-leaved woodland they can be found on dead tree stumps, more often, growing it seems from the soil but actually there will be a piece of wood buried that they are growing on. This very common autumn species is the only Britich puffball that grows on wood. When they first emerge these puffballs can have a scaly appearance. As they age and dry out they turn paler and lose the scales. The ball is full of spores and when raindrops land on them the impact causes puffs of spores to be emitted from a hole on top of the ball, a but like a volcano blowing ash. As the fruiting body ages further so the wind will cause spores to distribute too.
So, if you see a puff ball, don't stamp on it - let it do its job naturally!
Find out more about the Stump Puffball in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Stump%20Puffball?v...
The Grey Puffball always occurs in these 'troops' or clusters. It is widespread and common occuring on grassland and can be found on coastal downland (like these at Durlston), in pasture, even on golf courses, in summer and autumn. The ones in my photograph were taken late in the year and have lost there spores through the hole in to top of the dome. They have also faded in colour too, they can be much whiter when fresh.
Not a fungus for eating unless you like a lot of powder.
Find out more about the Grey Puffball in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Grey%20Puffball?vd...
14 July, 2012
A piece of rotting wood with black spots on it - not very exciting is it? However, those small black spots are the visual representation of a living organism, a fungus that is busy inside the dead wood breaking it down and rotting it away back to soil, a vital process in regeneration. This species, as the name suggests, is associated with beech, the spots emerge from under the bark rather than growing on it. It can occur on other broad-leaved wood as well but, most often, it is beech.
I would love to see you trying to scrape it off to eat!
Find out more about the Beech Barkspot in Dorset here: http://www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Beech%20Barkspot%20Fungus?vdt=species_master%7Cpage_1
Lycolgala epidendrum is a somwhat bizzare looking thing. It is described in my book as "a mass of naked protoplams, usually on dead wood, maturing to a light grey-brown, breaking open to expose minute dry fruit bodies enclosing powdery spores." I really don't think I can add anything more to that other than to say it looks quite painful!
Is it edible? Well, would you fancy it if it was?
Find out more about Lycogala epidendrum in Dorset here: http://www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Fungus%20%5BL%20epidendrum%5D?vdt=species_master%7Cpage_1
This is a bitter and twisted fungus! It looks like a standard toadstool that has become deformed from the classic 'mushroom' shape to make a crumpled cap that looks a bit like a saddle, hence its name. It is a quite common fungus in broad-leaved woodland appearing, generally, in late summer and throughout the autumn. It is most often found in small groups, occassionally solitary.
It is edible but the bitter taste makes poor eating.
Find out more about the White Saddle Fungus in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/White%20Saddle?vdt...
13 July, 2012
The Oak Maze-gill is predominantly found on Oak but not exclusively. This species appears all year round, is widespread and common. It grows on dead wood causing a brown rot whichhelps to decay the remnants of the wood down. Usually more than one bracket appears at any time. Although the mage-GILL this species has pores but a clower look at the underside will reveal that the pores look like a maze of ... short gills!
Not edible, tough as old boots!
Find out more about the Oak Maze-gill in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Oak%20Maze-gill?vd...
Some species of fungi attack dying or dead wood and act as an agent to break down the waste material; others are more deadly attacking healthy trees and killing them. Root fomes is one of the latter and is a preditor of conifers although it can occur on broad-leaved trees as well. A common species, the brackets appear near the base of the trunk (and can be obscurred by other vegetation) all year round and there are usually more than one of them. Being at the base of the tree it looks as though the roots are 'foaming', hence its comon name.
This is certainly not one for the frying pan!
Find out more about Root Fomes in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Root%20Fomes?vdt=s...
Bitter Bracket (Postia stiptica)
This is a widespread and common bracket fungus that attacks rotting wood, usually on sawn surfaces. It has a preference for conifers and so you will often see it on the sawn ends of felled timber stacked in Forestry Commision woodlands. An autumn and winter species it is white when fresh but discolours with age as the specimen I photographed was doing.
This has a very bitter taste and an unpleasant smell so don't add this to your full English!
Find out more about the Bitter Bracket fungus in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Bitter%20Bracket?v...
07 July, 2012
This small, yellow, branhed fungus grows amongst grass on lawns and in pasture. It is common and, because of its size, I am sure it is oftgen overlooked. It grows in these solitary clusters, usually in autumn. It is easy to see why it is called the Moeadow Coral; it looks like it could , indeed, be a coral, and it grows in Meadows.
It is not edible of course, there is not enough of it.
Find out more about the Meadow Coral in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Meadow%20Coral?vdt...
Golden Spindles is aptly named; golden spindle shapes coming out of the leaf litter on acidic soils hence it can be found in wooded areas of heath, such as that found around the Purbeck area. It comes out in autumn and is very common but becuase of its size it must be frequently over looked. It is very similar to Yellow Club and one or two other species so you need to be careful; ideed, I hope I have got this right!
Who cares if its edible, there's not enough of it to eat.
Find out more about Golden Spindles in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Golden%20Spindles?...
Many bolete have a cracked surface to the cap but with some it is an identifying feature. The Red-Cracking Bolete has a reddish cap that readily cracks to show the yellow flesh of the pores underneath. This is a common fungus not only found in woods but also in parks and pastures, especially where beech or larch are nearby.Generally a solitary species, although occasionally in small grouops, this can be found from late summer through to early winter.
It is edible, especially if you like eating sponge!
Find out more about the Red Cracking Bolete in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Red-cracking%20Bol...
At first sight this might appear to be a waxcap fungus bit on closer inspection you will quickly see the classic yellow sponge underside to the cap and so change the thoughts to the range of potential boletes species. The shiney surface gives this one the common name of Slippery Jack. As with many of the Suillus species (still boletes family) these are associated with acidic soils and pine, usually Scots Pine. Usually solitary, sometimes in a small group Slippery Jack appears in the autumn.
Edible but sometimes purgative so be warned.
Find out more about Slippery Jack in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Slippery%20Jack?vd..
This is a specialised species of boletes that occurs on acidic soil with pine on heathland and as such is ideally suited to the wareham Forset and that is where I found this one. Indeed, I have seen them elsewhere in the forest so they are quite widespread. They usually appear in these small groups in the autumn amongst the heather or on more open grassy areas.
These are edible but 'apt to be purgative'!
Find out more about the Weeping Bolete in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Weeping%20Boletus?...
The Orange Birch Bolete is an orange coloured fungus, found near birch trees and is a member of the boletes family so I guess the name is a pretty fair description of it! Usually a solitary species, found in late summer and autumn and is quite common. The orange cap is quite distinctive and once seen you will probably remember it.
It is edible; want to try it?
Find out more about the Orange Birch Bolete in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Orange%20Birch%20B...
I was surprised to find this fungi described as 'lurid' so I checked my dictionary for a definition and lurid does mean vivid in shocking detail! Now I agree that the photo I have taken is vivid in shocking detail as this poor specimen was well past its best when I found it and looking decidedly nasty. However, read on in the dictionary and an alternative meaning for the word is pallid in colour and, as the cap of this species is a paler brown than many of its cousins I suspect that is where the name comes from. It is a widespread species occuring in all sorts of habitat from woods to parks and pasture but it is not that common. It is an early species too, appearing in summer and early autumn.
It is edible but would you want to eat something that looks like this?
Find out more about the Lurid Bolete in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Lurid%20Bolete?vdt...
Cep is the common name of Boletus edulis but also has the local name in England of Penny Bun, the cap looking much like a traditional bakers bun! Cep is common in woodlands during the summer and in to late autumn occuruing in both coniferous or broad-leaved woodlands. In this country we are used to buying varieties of mushrooms in our supermarkets but in continental Europe Cep is much more likely to be seen on sale in markets and shops. It is, however, graown commercially in this country to produce 'mushroom' flavourings for soups and the like.
So, it is edible and, without knowing it, I have probably eaten them!
Find out more about Cep in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Cep?vdt=species_ma...
This is a widespread and very common fungus usually associated with conifers but not exclusively. Appearing from late summer to early winter it is classic boletes in appearance, largish domed cap, brown in colour with a stout stem and yellowish and fleshy underside to the cap.
It is edible, it has a mild, pleasant taste; nice if you like that sort of thing.
Find out more about the Bay Boletes in Dorset here:
06 July, 2012
When walking in broad-leaved woodlands, especially where Horse Chestnut or Sycamore trees are present, you may encounter the large capped bracket fungus known as Dryad's Saddle. I say large and I mean large, the cap can be as much as 2 feet across! Dryad's Saddle is big and is a yellowish-green colour when fresh becoming brown and black with age. It is widespread and quite common and emerges in spring. It is parasitic and any tree with it has no chance of survival.
It is supposedly edible when young but who would want to cut such a wonderful fungus from its home just to eat it?
Find out more about Dryads Saddle in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Dryads%20Saddle?vd...
Tree stumps and rotting tree trunks are ideal places to find fungi, especially these tufted species that grow in large clusters. The Sheathed Woodtuft thrives in decidous woodland with falled tree debris and is widespread and very common. The cap is two or three toned brown; dark on the outside, then pale and sometimes a dark patch in the centre.
This is an edible species but it looks very similar to Galerina marginata which is deadly poisonous. Do you want to test your powers of identification with your mouth?
Find out more about the Sheathed Woodtuft in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Sheathed%20Woodtuf...
The Chanterelle is the prized fungus of the top chefs, considered to be the finest tasting toadstool. Mainly found on broad-leaved woodlands it grows in the leaf litter, usually in groups and often in troops. Although very common I have rarely seen it, may be they are all picked for the kitchen before I get there?
A lovely, distinctive yellow colour the cap is also distinctive from its shape as it forms a deep funnel leaving the gills on the outside visible.
Find out more about the Chanterelle in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Chanterelle?vdt=sp...
Many of the most successful species of nature thrive because they can cope in a variety of habitats and conditions, others have much more specific requirements and can only be found where those conditions are met. The Chimney Sweeper moth has some pretty specific requirements! It likes chalk grassland, limestone hills and damp grassy meadows and at Corfe Common the chalk of the Purbeck Ridge to the north and the limestone Purbeck Hills to the south meet in the damp, grassy conditions that exist on the common. As a result, this is a place to find this little black moth in June and July flying on sunny days.
This is a local uncommon species in the south of England but, because the habitat is right, it is quite common on Corfe Common!
Find out more about the Chimney Sweeper moth in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Chimney%20Sweeper%...
05 July, 2012
Spotted Toughshank (Collybia maculata)
The brown speckles on the top of a cream toadstool make this species fairly easily identifiable. The brown freckles give it its name of Spotted Toughshank and also its Latin name of maculata which means spotted. This species occurs from spring through to winter but is most common in autumn in needle and leaf litter in woodlands of all types, especially those on more acidic soils and heaths so Purbeck is ideal for it and it probably one of the first species you would encounter here when walking in Wareham Forest. It is widespread and occurs in troops so where there is one you will often find several.
It has a bitter, unpleasant taste so is best left alone.
Find out more about the Spotted Toughshank in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Spotted%20Tough-sh...
The colouring of the Butter Cap can be quite variable but this coffee and cream colouring seems to crop up quite frequently although coffee with no cream edge seems to common too. The species itself is widespread and very common amongst fallen needles in coniferous woodland although it does occurr in deciduous woodland as well. Emerging with a convex cap it tends to flatten out with age and can grow to around 3 inches across. However, the main aid to idenfification is the greasy or buttery surface to the cap, hence its common name.
It is not a recommended species for eating.
Find out more about the Butter Cap in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Butter%20Cap?vdt=s...
This is a widespread and very common fungus species found in woodland in dense tufts on tree stumps and other dying wood. Mainly associated with decidous wood but ocassionally occurs in coniferous woods as well. Pale coloured with a touch of darker shading towards the top of the cap which is usually only an inch or so in diameter.
My book does not say whether it is edible or not but does say it has a faint taste of mushrooms so presumably someone, somehwere has eaten them at some stage and survived to tell the tale.
Find out more about the Clustered Toughshank in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Clustered%20Toughs...
04 July, 2012
A delicate fungus growing on rotting wood of broad-leaved trees and shrubs, this species has the English name of the Grooved Bonnet because the cap is bonnet shaped and has grooves in it! It is frequently associated with hazel coppice and you can see some fallen hazel leaves on the ground in this picture. Widespread and very common, usually growing in small troops. The cap starts bell shaped but slowly flattens out to leave a centre 'hump'. Initially a creamy white but changing to an ochre colour with age.
Apparently has a faint taste of raddish but you would need an awful lot of them to make a worthwhile meal so don't bother!
Find out more about the Grooved Bonnet in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Grooved%20Bonnet?v...
The stem of this species exudes a pink fluid if broken and hence its name, the Bleeding Bonnet! A very common fungus in coniferous woodland where it appears amongst the fallen needles and amongst mosses where present. It actually grows on dead wood but this is often hidden by the the needles and moss. It also grows on heath and moors amongst the heather and so is abundant in the Purbeck area of Dorset. This is very much an autumn species.
You can eat it but it is hardly worth the trouble.
Find out more about the Bleeding Bonnet in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Bleeding%20Bonnet?...
The Common Bonnet is very common; indeed, probably one of our most common species. You will find it any just about any broad-leaved woodland on dead wood and, especially stump where it can be extremely prevelant in big tufts with many stems. It can be found all year round but is particularly noticable in the autumn.
It is edible but as the individual specimens are quite small they are really not worth the effort to collect.
Find out more about the Common Bonnet in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Common%20Bonnet?vd...
The Field Blewit is commonly found in pasture but, despite its name, also occurs on heathland and in broad-leaved woods. It likes alkaline conditions and poor soils so the limestone Purbecks cliffs suit it. Widespread and common where it occurs it has a tendency to form in rings although sometimes they may just be in random groups.
It has a large, waxy cap up to 12cms across to it is a big fungus and it is, apparently worth eating. I will leave you to try it.
Find out more about the Field Blewit in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Field%20Blewit?vdt...
You can find Wood Blewit in broad-leaved woodlands at just about any time of year, it also crops up in gardens (especially compost heaps) and hedgerows too. It is widespread and very common but also a bit variable and can be mistaken for similar toadstools. More likely, of course, the similar but rarer species are likely to be dismissed as this one!
This species has a lilac coloured stem but that is not always visible without destroying the fungus as it is hidden under the large cap which can be as much as 10cm across. Said to be good to eat but it causes 'adverse reactions' in some people - want to give it a miss? I would!
Find out more about Wood Blewit in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Wood%20Blewit?vdt=...
This is a very common little fungus you might encounter in any type of woodland in small groups in late summer and autumn. Fungi with this distinctive funnel shape are normally associated with the family Clitocybe rather than Lepista and is the odd one out in its family.
The lovely chestnut colour ives it the 'tawney' part of the name and its shape the 'funnel cap' part so, for once, a common name that makes sense! Edible but with a taste described as 'unpleasant' so its up to you if you want to give it try - I'll pass on this one.
Find out more about the Tawney Funnel Cap in Dorset here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Tawney%20Funnel%20...