Black Fungi

I seem to have come across a few black fungi recently, so tried to identify them.

This one was in grassland on a cliff in Devon in the summer, 1-2 inches across. I’m not sure about this, but it could be indigo pinkgill.

This one was on a dead birch log in the autumn in Cheshire, a few centimetres across, part of a group of varying sizes. I think this is King Alfred’s Cake fungus, so named because it looks like burnt cake. Surprisingly, it can be used as tinder.

The final one is a much larger bracket fungus (6-8 inches) in Derbyshire in the autumn, on a dead beech stump. A common name is willow bracket, but it is found on other broad leaved trees. This is another fungus that was used for kindling.

Tinder Fungus

These rather fine specimens of tinder fungus, or fomes fomentarius, sat proudly on a dead silver birch stump in Brereton Country Park. These bracket fungi were quite large, around 1 foot in height.

This species typically continues to live on trees long after they have died, changing from a parasite to a decomposer, helping the dead wood to rot.

The name derives from the fact that it was found to be useful as tinder in making fire.

tinder fungus 1tinder fungus 2

This could be the identity of the queried oyster shell fungus in an earlier post, which was found in the same woods.

Oyster Shell Fungus?

Here’s another bracket fungus, living on a dead beech branch at Brereton Country Park. At first glance it might be a discarded oyster shell, but I don’t think that features in its identifying name – it’s possibly related to Trametes hirsuta or hairy bracket.

oyster shelllike fungus

I rather like the fortuitous juxtaposition of the fungus and the dead oak leaf on the dead branch.

Underneath there was a fallen comrade in its death throes.

fallen comrade

My autofocus apparently failed to find any point in focus, probably as there was little light under there. The subdued effect is quite pleasing.

Of course these things are not edible, which is quite apparent just looking at them.