Chicken (kebab?) of the Woods

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 25 August 2010 19:20

Chicken of the Woods fungus is the main bracket fungus that causes red rot in oaks. Red rot in oak has many rare and scarce deadwood beetles associated with it so it's always worth a look. The effect the fungus  has on the wood is that the wood remains hard but fractures producing cuboidal structure (hence red rot is also known as cuboidal red rot - you can just see this effect in the top right of the above photo).  An ancient, hollow, red-rotten oak that is still alive and gets plenty of light is probably the best deadwood habitat of all. On top of this, there are many species of deadwood beetle that can be found in the fruiting bodies of bracket fungi, especially the really rancid, slimy, half-eaten ones that you would not dream of eating. This is where we found a lot of different beetles yesterday (mostly staphs that I can't do) but we did see a few Mycetophagus species including the common Mycetophagus quadripustulatus and the nationally scarce Mycetophagus piceus.
Here is a photo of active mycelium (the white bits) still working their way through a section of red-rotten oak, the galleries of some saproxylic invertebrate are visible, filled with compacted frass. We'll never know what this particular beast was.
I think it's also about time I updated my all-taxa list. Since the start of the month I have added 33 species increasing my list from 2748 to 2781. This includes 11 vascular plants, 7 beetles (including this Anoplotrupes stercorosus - a dor beetle, not a deadwood species), 3 moths and a mammal.

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