Ustulina deusta

Say hello to Ustulina deusta, a fungus that grows on dead trees in our forests. The quality of the picture isn’t the best (by my standards), but the light and my mobile phone camera didn’t allow for a better shot.

I snapped this yesterday, because today there was heavy rain during my walk and photography would have been useless. Instead I pretended to enjoy becoming increasingly wet, and sang a couple of nonsense songs about how much I liked the rain. It was just a trick to keep me in good humour as I find it hard to be glum if I’m singing. Of course, it would be easy for others to be gloomy if they were within earshot of my ditties, but that’s the great thing about having a place to yourself: you get to act foolish now and again.

I was rather excited the previous day when I spotted Ustulina deusta. It’s a species of mushroom I’ve never seen before. In the years since I moved back to the West of Ireland I’ve been taking photographs of the native fungi that grow in this region. I like fungi (well, as long as it stays outside my house!). There are a number of varieties I’ve taken pictures of lots of times so it’s always a delight to find something new.

This fungus is like a bearded grey carpet. For me, the whiskers make it very appealing. If you sidle up to this one he’ll tell you old stories about the primordial forests, and how, in his day, they used to chew through trees the size of  Ireland in the morning, and then tackle a dozen giant beeches in the afternoon, but if you tell the younger fungi that, they won’t believe you.

Mushrooms: great storytellers, but outrageous fibbers.

One of my valuable guides when it comes to identifying mushrooms is the outstanding reference book: Mushrooms and Other Fungi of Great Britain & Europe by Roger Phillips. Much to my joy today I discovered that this marvellous resource is now available online.

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