Monday, February 19, 2007

Calloria neglecta

I am attempting to identify all the life in my garden. The benefit of being an amateur naturalist is that you can, and will, routinely find things that confuse and confound you, but learn a great deal in the process. My previous posting is just such an example.

Having failed to conclusively establish the identify of the small fungus/slime mould on my bird table, I thought I ought to try to redress the balance by posting an example of a small fungus that I am fairly confident to have identified correctly (until someone makes me eat my words that is!):

Last summer my garden hosted (at (1.2,2.0)) a patch of nettles (Urtica dioica - more in future postings). Over winter these have died back to bare woody stems and it is on these I am finding a tiny orange fungus (photo 1 - you'll need to click on it to enlarge it and make out the fungus).

Based on a similar photo in The Encyclopedia of Fungi (M. Jordan, publ. Francis Lincoln 2004), and other photo's I've found on the web, and although I wasn't able to find any spores under the microscope (normally a strong help in identifying fungi), I'm fairly confident in naming my fungus as Calloria neglecta.

From what I can ascertain C. neglecta grows only (?) on the stems of nettles. This seems a remarkably niche existence to me, but then, having recently read Fungi (Spooner and Roberts, Collins New Naturalist, 2005) and discovered that there are some fungi that live only in the intestines of woodlice I suppose a nettle stem is positively suburban!

Strictly, most images I've found of C. neglecta show the fungal bodies rising to some extent from their nettle stem, whereas under a hand lens mine seem to be simply orange coloured patches of negligible thickness. Since the description in the book above however, includes the statement:

"The conidial stage... [of C. neglecta] more commonly encountered"

(For those not familiar with this term, 'conidial' refers to a form of asexual reproduction that some fungi are able to undertake)

and since also the (very nice) photos on the web page of Piotr Perz are referred to as images taken

" month after the conidial stage Cylindrocella urticae"

I'm going to take a guess and say my diffuse orange spots are the conidial stage of Calloria neglecta (though I've not been able to find an explicit description or photo of this as yet). I'll leave it to the experts out there to correct me!

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