Considering I am exceedingly short-sighted, I am amazed at how many exceedingly tiny fungi I have been finding lately. More on those soon but today I want to share a rare one I found in one of my local Cardiff parks last week. In fact, my find is only the second record for Wales and was the first record in Wales in 42 years and 3 days. As Kew mycologist Brian Douglas wrote, ‘it’s not bad coming second to Derek Reid, ex-head of Kew Mycology’. Needless to say, I’m delighted, though I suspect this fungus is under-recorded rather than as rare as those statistics make it sound!
Diplocarpa bloxamii (no common name) is an ascomycete, a cup fungus, with an olive-black disc-shaped cup growing on a short stem. The external surface of the cup is pustulate (think coarse pimples, without the actual pus) and it has light brown hairs sprouting both from the pustules and around the edge of the cup, which is much lighter, almost beige, in colour. The cups are tiny – no more than 5mm across – I actually had my glasses off and my face about 15cms from the decaying piece of log, looking at something else, when I spotted them.
Of course, I had no idea what they were but took some macro photos to post that evening on Facebook. Luckily, Brian Douglas spotted my post, alerted me to what they might be, sent me some literature, and had me heading back to the woods the next day for a sample. Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack! Fortunately, I’ve been training myself to remember where I spot things so that I can later record my findings, so I found them again quite quickly.
I am very grateful to Brian for his help in determining the identity of my little fungi and to Amy Hicks, of SEWBReC, who very kindly undertook the microscope work needed to confirm their ID and provided me with the stunning photographs (above) that resulted from her work.