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I am frequently frustrated in my quest to identify the fungi I find on my daily walks and today’s fungi provide yet another example of how difficult a task identification can be.

161202-ascocoryne-sp-1

I can say with a high degree of certainty that the fungi shown in my photos are of the Ascocoryne species, but there are two species of Ascocoryne that look almost identical at certain stages in their development, A. sarcoides and A. cylichnium. The latter only ever forms a cup shape, whereas the former goes through a cup-shaped stage but then goes on to form gelatinous brain-like blobs, hence the common name Purple Jellydisc. (One stage is asexual, the other a sexual spore-producing stage.) It’s highly likely, then, that the blobby fungi in my photos are indeed Purple Jellydisc. In fact, it’s highly likely that all my photos show Ascocoryne sarcoides, as that is said to be the most common species, but is it really? It could be that people assume they have found A. sarcoides and record their finds as such, even though the only way to be absolutely certain is to examine the spores of the fungi under a microscope.

I am booked on a course to learn how to use a microscope in February. Until then, I’ll just have to content myself with admiring Ascocoryne’s beautiful colours, shapes and textures. I hope you enjoy them too.

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