Sunday, 18 December 2016


On Saturday afternoon, I went back to the riverside wood, just across the river from the Universal site, in Robertstown. The aim was to photograph a microfungus I had collected there the weekend before and which on identification as Echinosphaeria (Lasiosphaeria) canescens, turned out to be the first record of it for Wales. I knew exactly where it was and took a few photo stack sequences. I am new to photo stacking and still trying to get to grips with the highly regarded free photo stacking software 'CombineZP'.

Echinosphaeria canescens. The individual bodies are just 2-3mm across.

Echinosphaeria canescens fruiting bodies look like tiny brown sea urchins and are often clustered so tightly that to the naked eye, the log just looks hairy. Under the microscope, the most diagnostic feature is the hairs themselves; which in E canescens are mostly straight and pointed, with very thick walls. The latter feature separates it from other Lasiosphaeria species.

The thickness of the hair walls can be easily seen at x400.

While I was there, I took a look under a holly, hoping to find the Holly Parachute. I didn't find it, but what I did find was a Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex) and on looking around, I found five in all. They looked smaller than I recall the ones Martin found, at the other end of Robertstown looking, so I took a some spores away to examine, just in case.

Geastrum triplex.

I checked in the books and really, there isn't another earthstar that closely resembles it, but I looked at the spores anyway and they are spot-on; being spherical, prominently warty and around 3.5 to 4.5 microns across, not counting the warts. That said, all the Geastrums seem to have spherical spores, with some degree of wartiness and are in the 3.5 - 5.5 micron size range.

The spores and a filament of the Capillitium. x400

At x1000, the warty nature of the spherical spores becomes more obvious.

x1000. each division of the scale equals 1 micron (1/1000 of a millimetre) 

I on my way back to the car, I came across this Stereum Sp. on a dead oak trunk.

What bleeding crust are you?

 There are two possibles: Bleeding Oak Crust (Stereum gausapatum) or Bleeding Broadleaf Crust (S. rugosum). I collected a specimen and today, cut some sections to examine under the microscope. Both have spores of about the same width and length: roughly  6.5-9 x 3-4.5 microns. S. rugosum has boat shaped spores and S. gausapatum has spores which ar cylindrical to elliptical. There were very few spore present in my specimen and those that were were cylindrical/ elliptical, which pointed to gausapatum, but when I measured them they were all far too small to be either of the above species. I wonder whether the spores that were present might have been immature, so I really need to collect another specimen and try to obtain a spore print. This is apparently quite difficult in these species, but could be the only was to confirm its identity, for the spores in a print should be mature.


  1. Nice Find Mark and great to know there are other earth stars in that area and mine have gone over a long time ago now.

    1. They are really hard to spot. As I crawled under the holly, I nearly put my hand on it and it was only after crawling about under there that I saw another two, close to the first one. The other two were outside the holly bush.

  2. Nice to see your hard work pay of,