anonymous spotter's picture

Pepperpot?

Observed: 12th April 2013 By: anonymous spotter
Pepperpot?
Pepperpot?
Description:
Identifications

Caution: Do NOT use iSpot to identify fungi to eat!

Some fungi are very poisonous so a mistaken ID could have serious consequences.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

Bogey the Fungusman's picture

ID

You are right, they are rare. Mainly found in the channel islands and was thought extinct in UK mainland, but has been found in Norfolk under a sandy hedgerow. You are in the correct location and the conditions are right for pepperpot, but I wouldn't like to confirm ID without the rays.

As you have the sample, why not contact the biology dept of your nearest university and see if they can ID it from spore samples. It may well be worth contacting your local recorders as well because if it is a pepperpot, they are sure to want to know. Good luck.

Graham

anonymous spotter's picture

Not a Pepperpot

Thanks Graham, I took your advice and showed the actual specimen to both the Norfolk and Suffolk recorders. They agree that it is a grey puffball (Bovista plumbea). The holes are made by insects burrowing out of the puffball.

neil suffolk's picture

Pepperpot Fungus

Hi there, I'm the guy that discovered the second Pepperpot fungus site in Suffolk and have only just discovered this thread.

Funnily enough, it is also possible to be caught out by finding an old Oak Marble Gall - these often become infected with insect holes and after they have been lying on the wet ground for several months begin to break up but as with the Bovista plumbea above, they both lack the conspicuous multiple spines/stalks which would have connected them to the main body consisting of the rays.
I believe this is what the late Peter Jordan must have found when he astonishingly claimed to have discovered the Pepperpot when I was drinking with him in his local at Southwold some years ago.

The spores are very distinctive, so when I asked him if he'd checked the spores he replied he doesn't have a microscope, so I asked what did he do with the remains (It later emerged he threw it away as it was impossible to identify - but not before making his ridiculous claim !)

Anyway, back to the real Pepperpot - after thoroughly searching the whole site I found a total of about 26 fruiting bodies ... some or even most, must have been remains from previous years as some had the sporesac completely missing and sometimes I found just the spore sac, but in both cases, there were always the faint but tell tell spines showing where the connection would have been.

Remember, the Pepperpot is the only 'Earthstar' fungus with multiple stems upon which the sporesac sits and these stems are broken in half if ever the sporesac is knocked off when run over by a lorry or trampled on leaving tiny spines to help you make the identification, but you really have to be familiar with Earthstars to know what you are looking at.

For the record, the following year I only found 4 new Pepperpots at the site, then last year there were 26 fresh 'eggs' with 2 failing to 'hatch' - but this year (2013) none at all have emerged. To make things worse, several old fruiting bodies have been stolen from the site, either by a selfish collector or in an attempt to establish a new site in another county - in which case I would be very suspicious of the finder !

The other site in Suffolk failed to produce anything last year or the year before, but I haven't had a look at the site yet this year.
By the way Graham, there is only one Fungus Recorder for Suffolk and that is me and nobody has ever brought a Bovista to me recently to check to see if it is a Pepperpot. Likewise, I regularly talk to the Norfolk Recorder and he has said nothing to me, but whoever confirmed this was Bovista plumbea was right.
(And there is NO site in Norfolk, although it was last recorded on the UK mainland from a site near Kings Lynn, Norfolk in the 1880's and hadn't been seen on the mainland until it's re-discovery in Suffolk in 2006 and 'my' site in 2010)
HAPPY HUNTING.