What a strange year it has been for fungi, July and August were great, with many species fruiting early with the large amount of rain we had, but recently it has been very quiet for mushrooms with some woodlands we have visited producing very little in terms of species and fruiting bodies.
However, usually when the weather is weird then it can throw up odd sightings, and on our mushroom workshop last weekend in North Wales we were in for a treat. Towards the end of our walk I spotted a 'mushroom' that looked way past its best growing by the bank of the river. The river had burst its banks a few days before and so this specimen had probably been underwater for a brief period. However, even though it looked past its best I knew it was special as it had spines instead of gills...
At first I thought it was a member of the Sarcodon (which would be new for Wales) family, but way past its best. It was not until I got the specimen home that I realised it was something different. After leaving the specimen on my desk to study I noticed it began to smell of curry, quite strongly, this lead me to the genus Phellodon and after checking the pale spores and other details I could say this is the Spruce Tooth (Phellodon violascens). New to Wales, in fact of the 34 times it has been recorded in the UK it has only ever been recorded in Scotland. This species was growing with Spruce, its favoured tree.
The flesh of this species also blushes pink, the flesh also turned dark green with 3% KOH. The specimen has been dried and will be kept in the Discover the Wild herbarium where if needed can be studied in the future.
It goes to show you 'have to be in it to win it' with fungi, even though the woodlands are quiet, there can be something lurking around the corner which will blow you away.