Wednesday, 21 November 2018

It is only autumn but...

Officially the first day of winter is 21 January but the last 72 hours have been distinctly parky, with a biting wind appearing to come from the south-east - not a warm quarter at this time of the year.

As we move into late November there are compensations. A quarter of a mile away from our house a specimen of Eucalyptus gunni is in flower. This Australian Gum Tree is clearly unaware that it has been transported to the northern hemisphere and, bees or no bees, it is covered in optimistic flowers, looking like little cream mimosa blossoms. (In fact the mimosas are completely unrelated, being in the Pea Family, Fabaceae, whereas the Eucalyptus is in the Myrtle Family, Myrtaceae.)

The off-white flowers of Eucalyptus gunni. Daventry. 20 November, 2018
This species, hailing from Tasmania, is probably the hardiest of the Gum Trees and is the most popular member of the genus to be found in Britain. It has not yet become naturalised to any great extent but it is a species which Defra is keeping an eye on.

I am constantly harping on about my ignorance regarding the world of fungi. I regret this because the role of fungi in the recycling of organic materials cannot be over-emphasised and my ignorance is a source of vexation and embarrassment. Today I was intrigued by a lovely toadstool outside the village hall at Byfield.

A Lepista, but which one?
The gills were of a rich lilac, a rather deeper shade than my photograph suggests. It is undoubtedly a blewit, i.e a species of Lepista. On balance it is probably Lepista nuda but I certainly won't be submitting the record to the Wildlife Trust. It is a common species anyway.

Surely Lepista nuda, the Wood Blewit. Byfield, Northants.
21 November, 2018

With all these fungal temptations to distract me I'll be very tempted to spend too much time with them when by rights I, like most good citizens, should be studying the spider fauna of leaf litter.

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