At this time of year, one of my favourite subjects to encounter and to photograph are fungi. Its hard not to be transported into a fairytale world on meeting the fruiting bodies of fungi, which in some cases can appear overnight. I visit a few favourite patches locally where I know I will encounter parasols, magpie inkcaps, fly agaric and bolettes. But my favourite fungus to greet as summer gives way to autumn, is the porcelain fungus, Oudemansiella mucida, a common mushroom which grows on many of the beech trees in the local woods.
Also known as the poached egg fungus, Beech tuft, or the slimy beech cap, the fungus grows on dead and dying wood. Sometimes found on fallen branches, but often in the canopy, where it looks magical as the light filters through the translucent shiny milk white caps and accentuating the mushrooms gills. It is a perfect subject for photography.
The mushroom is edible but the slimy mucous should first be washed off, the stipe (stem) removed and the mushroom must be cooked. The fungus is common throughout the British Isles, and produces a fungicide which it uses to fend off other fungi to take over dead trees. Whilst it’s beautiful, it’s presence on a living tree probably isn’t a great indicator of health for the tree.
Porcelain fungus can be found on other broadleaf trees, not just the beech, so keep a look out on woodland walks or wanders in park land through late summer into the autumn. With caps from 3-10cm they can be spotted fairly easily.
I’ve taken these images with a Sony A58 and a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens. Shooting up into the camopy the light above the mushrooms both enhances the gills and the translucence of the fungus, but also creates bokeh as the light filters through the leaves in the canopy above. Shooting wih a wide aperture, and keeping a good distance between your subject and the background will create the best bokeh.
As we head into autumn, I am hoping to add more images of the many different fungi that grow in the local woods to my website. Thanks for visiting and reading.