Grassland Fungus Foray at Boars Hill

Jonathan Noel writes:

Sunday 31 October started with heavy rain and strong winds and the outlook for a successful walk looked bleak. However, by the time I had reached our meeting point at Boars Hill the weather had turned into a beautiful autumn day. Sixteen brave souls also ventured out and we met our leader for the foray Peter Creed.

We all parked along Berkeley Road and walked into the adjacent large field on Boars Hill. This land is owned by Oxford Preservation Trust and is famous because the views of Oxford from here are stunning. The land hasn’t been damaged by fertiliser or ploughing and is managed by grazing. This unimproved grassland site contains a good variety of grassland fungi. 

We saw five different species of waxcaps in this field (snowy, blackening, parrot, butter and honey waxcaps). My favourite was the parrot waxcap (Gliophorous psittacinus) with its glistening slimy emerald green cap as seen in the fresh young specimens. The stem is yellow at the base and the top half is green, as it matures the green colours fade to yellow. The blackening waxcaps (Hygrocybe conica) emerge with orange or scarlet caps which blacken with age and exposure to air. This was probably the most common waxcap in the field and we saw it in different stages of colour. Other fungi in the field included spindle coral (Clavulinopsis fusiformis) which are part of a large group of fungi with neither gills or pores. The spores develop on the outside of the fruiting body and are dispersed by wind or rain on maturity. 

We then drove a short distance to Matthew Arnold field near Jarn Mound. Here we saw a vermillion waxcap (Hygrocybe miniata) which was identified due to its cap being covered in fine scales; it’s very similar to spangle and scarlet waxcaps. A little further on we saw an oily waxcap (Hygrocybe quieta) which had an orange yellow cap and a similar coloured stem.

We then left the field and entered deciduous woodland. Here under some oaks we saw a mature chestnut bolete (Gyroporous castaneus). This is locally rare and Peter was very pleased to see it. Other highlights included seeing a meadow waxcap, an earthy powdercap, a fools funnel, and a brown puffball. Altogether we saw 28 different species of fungi. 

A full species list can be found here (click on ‘here’).

Jonathan Noel; photographs by Roger Newman, November 2021.