A Very Striking Mushroom

John C. writes:

Last Sunday, inspired by Peter Creed’s talk at the 1 October meeting, we decided to visit a couple of local woods in the hope of finding some interesting fungi. The first we visited was Holly Grove, near Ramsden. Perhaps because it has been quite dry recently, we saw only a few ‘LBMs’ (Little Brown Mushrooms) until we came across an eye-catching group of small orangey mushrooms on a piece of dead wood.

The mushrooms were clearly just emerging, and the group was all the more eye-catching because they were exuding a transparent orange jelly which was refracting the sunlight. We had never seen anything like them, and had no idea what they were.

After that we visited Singe Wood, near Delly End, hoping – but not really expecting – to find wrinkled peaches, which are advertised to grow there. In fact, all we found were a few LBMs and lots of Common Puffballs.

Despite searching through my books when we got home I wasn’t able to identify the small orange mushrooms we had found in Holly Grove, and I thought that they would remain a mystery. However, a few days later, I found what was obviously a more mature specimen about six foot up a dead tree by the side of a ditch near Pit 60 in Standlake.

Wrinkled peach on dead elm, Standlake, October 2021

It was easier to identify this one and, even though the picture in my book is not particularly good, it was almost certainly a wrinkled peach (Rhodotus Palmatus), confirmed by a quick search on the internet. Its cap was about 3 cm across; I don’t know if it was fully mature because they can grow to about 10 cm and appear even more wrinkled.

From what I have since read, wrinkled peach is in a family all of its own. They grow on elm, and sometimes ash, and were once fairly common but now their status is described as ‘near-threatened’, due to the loss of elms.

One or two sites on the internet describe wrinkled peaches as ‘the UK’s most beautiful mushroom’. Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if not beautiful, they are certainly very striking and now seems to be the right time to go out and look for them. I would be very interested to to know of any other local sightings.