Recording Highlights – 2024 so far

By Stuart Colgate, CBDC Records Centre Officer

One of the rarer earthstars in Cumbria, the Beaked earthstar Geastrum pectinatum was recorded in April by Dorothy Iveson in her garden in Carlisle at the base of a conifer hedge. Earthstars are a group of fungi with a characteristic overall form. The separation of species requires a close look at the specimen. Geastrum pectinatum has a great similarity to the Striate earthstar G. striatum; the latter is generally smaller and has a pronounced collar beneath the spore sac (bulb). This is only the 2nd verified record of this species in CBDC database and was determined by Paul Nichol the Cumbria Fungi Recorder.

Considering the large number of sheep (and deer) ranging widely over the fells and lowlands of Cumbria, the Horn stalkball Onygena equina appears to be an under-recorded fungus. It requires a specialist microhabitat comprising the horns or hooves of dead sheep, deer etc, breaking down the keratin within these structures to extract the nutrients and energy.

The specimen in the photo was recorded in March during a botanical survey of a ghyll woodland near Rookby, Kirkby Stephen. The Horn stalkball was growing on the horns of a partially buried sheep skull. On close inspection it was seen to be at the stage of spore release. This is the 3rd verified record of Onygena equina in CBDC’s database, kindly determined by Paul Nichol the Cumbria Fungi Recorder.

All photos by Stuart Colgate