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Plicatura crispa

Plicatura crispa No English name yet – any suggestions…?

(old scientific names include Merulius crispa, Cantharellus crispus, Trogia crispa, Plicaturopsis crispa and Plicatura faginea)

The fruiting structure of this species is fan shaped and thin, often with a rather lobed appearance. When mature, the tops have lovely tawny orange browns, usually with a pale edge. The fertile underside shows gill like fold or wrinkles which often fork and whilst pale compared with the upper surface, the underside often has a distinctive greenish tinge.  Individual fruit bodies rarely reach more than 2cm but they usually grow in dense troops (imbricate meaning ‘like tiles’) and can cover large areas of dead wood. The texture of the damp, fresh fruit body is soft and flexible but not fragile and the spore print is white. When dry, the cap will curl up and be far less noticeable. Once you have your eye in for this species and its habitat, it is quite unmistakeable even in the field.

Plicatura crispa is a saprotrophic or ‘recycler’ fungus, which is breaking down dead wood. Fungi are the only group of organisms that can break down lignin and without them we would be buried under many metres of woody debris. They also lay a vital role in driving the carbon cycle, releasing nutrients that they don’t require back into the habitat.

Fruiting: there are records from every month of the year apart from July but the vast majority of these are from the winter months.

Habitat: found on the dead wood (including standing trunks and fallen twigs) of broadleaved trees, in particular hazel and beech, but also known on alder, willow and birch. Usually located in rather humid woodlands often in river valleys or loch sides.

Distribution: as given in the Checklist of the British and Irish Basidiomycota Legon & Henrici 2005: Scotland ‘occasional or infrequently reported’, England ‘present, frequency unknown’.

The total number of records for this species on the Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland is 197 with 130 of those originating in Scotland. It does appear have a mostly northern distribution in the UK with most of the English records occurring in Durham, Yorkshire and Northumberland – with just a scatter from the southeast (not yet on the NBN distribution map).

This species was included in Bruce Ing’s 1992 provisional red list of fungi, but a later evaluation by Shelley Evans for the 2007 red list, showed that the species does not appear to be particularly rare or declining at the moment and it was not included in the revised list. In Scotland, this species is certainly not uncommon in the right habitat at the right time of the year and it is such a delightful species that it shouldn’t take much to tempt you out to find new locations.

Distribution of Plicatura crispa from the NBN
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