Please welcome back our every popular guest blogger, Andre Jagger, and his deep dive into plants, and here we have some wonderful mushrooms.
A Magic Blue Gym
================ It was the middle of February this year (2020) whilst wandering in the surrounds of the village of Luk Keng (鹿頸村), Yam O Peninsula near the small island of Cheung Sok (長索) north of Yam O Bay, Lantau Island, that I almost missed this little gem, gym if you please! There at the back of a village garden plot, carved out of land that may have belonged to anyone, was a stack of waste wood - not pruning matter but what looked to be roofing rafters. One end of a particluar 3 x 4 inch rafter had a piece of blue and white striped plastic tarpaulin substitute attached (clearly meant at one time as a roofing cover). It was in between this plastic sheet and the wood that water and soil had collected and the beneficial environment was just what our little gem (gym) needed to get started in late winter rains. Thus it came to be that I saw two mature apricot to orange-brown toadstools growing out of the wood. It was the unusual colour that surprised me as it was a contrast to the bleached grey of the surrounding wood and the caps of these gems (gyms) had dark brown scales that were quite defined but not that large ( < 1.2 mm ).
Later in April I came across a large, long dead, branch that had broken off and had been lying amongst leaf litter on the ground for sometime. This time the gems (gyms) were found growing much closer to the path that leads to Luk Keng, but not that far away from the village itself. These gyms were growing out of the end of the broken branch. No idea what kind of wood the dead branch was, just as I had no idea what kind of wood the roofing rafter was either. After having gently uplifted the broken branch I photographed these gyms, neatly contained in the broken branch end, then returned the broken branch to the original location but casting a few of the spore laden dead leaves further afield to help properly disperse the spore. The gyms on the roofing rafter were used for dissection and morphological study and spore print, thankfully so too as that roofing rafter has since been burnt by the villagers!
In this picture above a view of the whole basidiocarp is provided, dissection, spore print and information concerning, pileipellis, stipitipellis, and bulbipellis are provided. This picture is self explanatory, I suppose and would be what you may see in any standard Fungal Guide Book. A note on the taxonomy might provide some interest. I was browsing the internet and looking at a Gymnopilus species for New Zealand and one of their sites mentioned the recent work of Dentinger and others, 2016. I felt it was better to adopt their suborder Agaricineae, rather than second guess at a family. Gymnopilus has been placed into various families in the past and I believe "Incertae sedis" best represents its true current position, leading on from the early 2006 work of Matheny, Hibbetts, and others. The 2003 work of Guzmán-Dávalos, and others, refreshed the morphological description of the sections within Gymnopilus with phyllogenetic clades, the one for which I believe the species in this picture resides is provided.