Strong winds brought down many twigs from high up in the large beech tree above the garden. Some of the dead wood had these hard, orange dots that had pushed up through the bark. These “pustules” are from Coral Spot Fungus (Nectria cinnabarina), a common saprophyte growing on dead wood of hardwood trees. Though it starts on the dead wood, it does eventually spread to healthy wood, contributing to the eventual decay of the tree. There were several small insects on the infected wood, many more than on the healthy twigs that had come down. I suppose the trees natural defenses against insects may be weakened by the fungus or (or probably and) the decaying wood has more food available to insects.
I left these large logs from a dead elder tree in the corner of the garden and they attract a lot of wildlife; plenty of insects and even a hibernating toad.
Wood Ear Fungus (aka Jelly Ear Fungus) loves to grow on Elder deadwood, and there’s a good growth of it here. It sends out new fruit-bodies in the winter, which then darken and dry out during the year. The young growths are edible, a bit like black fungus you sometimes find in Chinese food; not much flavour apparently but an interesting texture if cut into strips in soup or salad. Will have to give it a try sometime.
Another fungus, this time on the dead stump of the same Elder tree, is Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci), which appears as a white coating on the dead bark.
Part of the bio-blitz, especially in this season, is about checking some of the hidden corners of the garden for things that I might have missed before. Procumbent Pearlwort (#366) was lurking in a damp corner of the front yard, hidden by bamboo and one of my pond/basins. A tiny Wall Rue Spleenwort (#375) growing between the bricks by the dustbins, is only my second species of fern in the garden. A solitary Dwarf Bell toadstool (#376) emerging among the mosses in a neglected planter is my first new species of fungus this Autumn; hopefully there will be a few more in the next month or so. All three are quite small and insignificant, but they are part of the ecology of the garden.