Hunting the Wrinkled Peach
Today I went out on a mission - to find one of my favourite fungi, the very local Wrinkled Peach fungus in the JCC area. The NBN Atlas doesn't have any records for the Soke of Peterborough but my son found one in August, an unusually early record for a species that's normally at its best from mid-October to November.
The Wrinkled Peach grows on elm logs in damp shaded places, a habitat which is plentiful in Rice Wood, so that's where I headed. I was quite surprised that I found the first one within five minutes of entering the wood, and eventually saw over thirty fruiting bodies, though most were only just emerging.
I found lots of other interesting fungi on my amble round the wood (not all of which I can name) ranging from a tiny club fungus about 0.5 cm tall on a leaf stem to a very magnificent set of Magpie Inkcap, another very local species associated with Beech, which seems to be having a generally good year.
I also saw two species of Slime Mould. These colourful and fascinating organisms are often found on damp rotting stumps and change appearance during the different stages of their life cycle. They begin life as tiny amoeba-like organisms which hunt for bacteria to eat. They mate to produce plasmodia which can grow to a large size feeding on micro-organisms. These slimy masses can move like giant amoeba. When food begins to wane, the plasmodium migrates to the surface and produces fruiting bodies (these are the fungi-like structures that we find). The plasmodia produce spores which hatch into amoebae to begin the life-cycle again.