Tag Archives: Roadsides

Danish Scurvy-Grass

I recently noticed an interesting plant growing right by the side of the Western Boulevard ring-road…..

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There is a distinctive line of white low-growing flowers alongside the road edge – this is Danish scurvy-grass (Cochlearia danica), a member of the cabbage family.  Here’s a closer look, unfortunately not of the best quality….

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Danish scurvy-grass is a coastal plant, whose common name derives from the fact that sailors used to chew its vitamin-C rich leaves to ward off scurvy.  Its usual habitat is coastal sand, shingle and salt-marsh, but it is no surprise to find it so far inland.  It is adapted to grow in places with high salt levels which would be intolerable to most species, and the application of salt to main roads in winter has made the very edge of such roads an ideal habitat for it (and not very good for much else).

The plant has therefore spread inland from the coast along roads and motorways, aided by the turbulence from passing high-speed traffic, which rapidly distributes its tiny seeds.  As a result, it is now one of the most widely-expanding native plants in Britain.

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Look out for it next time you’re on or near a major road – it’s flowering now and at it’s most conspicuous.

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Stump-eating Fungi

I saw some interesting fungi on the stump of a dead street tree in Carrington the other day…..

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The stump – my guess is it was a Plane or Maple – is now an impressive fungal habitat, not so often seen by a main road.  Fruiting bodies of two different species of fungus were evident…..

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My best guess for this one is the Blueing Bracket, Postia subcaesia.

As to the other, less-abundant fruiting bodies….they look to me like Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), which are excellent eating.  Unfortunately I wasn’t sure enough to try them.

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It’s unusual to see such fungal abundance in such a setting.  Is anyone able to offer an opinion on the identity of these species?

Shaggy Ink Caps

I recently saw a fine crop of Shaggy Ink Cap mushrooms, growing underneath a street tree in Mapperley…..

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The Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus) is a very common mushroom, found growing in a variety of habitats – often forcing their way through pavements, as here.  Its shaggy young fruitbodies soon dissolve into a black, inky substance, which contains spores (and can be used to make ink).

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When young it makes excellent eating. I picked the young caps and briefly fried them whole in olive oil and garlic.  Delicious!  They are easy to identify and thus a favourite foraging mushroom.  However, don’t confuse them with the related Common Ink Cap (Coprinopsis atramentaria), which gives unpleasant effects if consumed with alcohol; it has a smooth cap with a different shape when young, so is easy to tell from the shaggy species.