New County Records and Checklist

New County records

There are three potential new County records for 2020, one definite and two awaiting confirmation, more on that later.

One, confirmed, new County record is Devil’s fingers, Clathrus archeri (Berk.) Dring. This fungus has a variable number of ‘arms’ and resembles an octopus when it has fully emerged from its ‘egg’. It has an unpleasant odour of rotting meat which attracts insects, the specimen in the accompanying photo constantly attracted flies while photographing it.

This is a rare find in Britain that has been expanding its range northwards, possibly via wood chippings. It is not native to the United Kingdom but an introduced species, originally from Tasmania. It was first recorded in Britain in Cornwall in 1946.

It was first reported in Staffordshire in the north of the County in July, followed by another record in the south of the County a week later. These may be the northern most records in England to-date.

Devil’s fingers, Clathrus archeri (Berk.) Dring

Provisional checklist of Staffordshire Fungi

I have compiled a Provisional Checklist of Staffordshire Fungi which lists all known species, since records began, when they were last recorded and number of records. The purpose of the checklist is also to help you identify if you have discovered a new County record such as the one above.

The list is a first draft which is up to date for the larger fungi only with more work required for the micro-fungi. You can access the list from here. (if the word 'here' doesn't appear, click on the space after the word 'from') The list is an attempted ‘friendly’ list ordered by the English name of the group name e.g. ‘Webcaps’ but is interactive enabling you to search for species or filter by e.g. Group name or common name etc. There is also a version of the list in taxonomic order and searchable by taxon, it also has more information on occurrence. The exact locations recorded are not put onto the public web site to discourage over collecting of fungi.

If you think that you have found a species which is not on the list referred to above, then refer to the notes below on recording as it may be a new County record.

Notes on recording and recording policy

Thank you to all those members emailing records of the fungi that they have found this year. The records that you send in are entered onto the County Mycological database with your permission. These are used locally, regionally, and nationally for scientific study and nature conservation purposes. To enable us to create a useful biological record we need to know who recorded it, what it is, whenit was recorded and where it was recorded i.e. ‘Who, What, Where and When’. If you can give a six-figure grid reference for the location that will be even better. If you are not sure of your identification, please provide notes on the habitat or substrate and any associated species of tree etc. that it is growing on or near, the size of the cap diameter and stipe length and diameter. Make a note of any distinctive odour as this can help distinguish some species. Please note that some fungi cannot be determined without details of certain microscopic characters or results of specialised chemical tests. If you wish to collect material to study later at home it is best wrapped in grease-proof paper, this is best but kitchen foil or a suitable box is ok if not available. Do not put in a plastic bag which will cause it to decompose rapidly.

If you think that you have found a new species, i.e. not on the Staffordshire Provisional Checklist, then please note that the policy of the group is that a ‘voucher’ specimen should be retained and deposited at the main County herbarium at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent or other public herbarium.

Voucher material of suitably preserved specimens, usually air or freeze-dried, can be examined later for microscopic characters. In many cases this is essential for determination or confirmation of the species. If you are interested in finding out more about how to prepare and deposit material, please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

Keith Bloor