Fungi and amphibians in the botanical garden

Phellinus pomaceus

On 11 August 2013, to the botanical garden. What fungi are there at this time of the year? A Phellinus pomaceus fungus is close to the entrance.

It can cope well with dry summer weather. This is a parasitic species; especially on plants of the Rosaceae family. In this case a Japanese hawthorn, brought to Leiden in the nineteenth century by Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold, the famous founder of Japanese studies in Europe. When, ten years ago, the fungus was discovered on that special shrub, there was much fear. However, this parasitic fungus is not really aggressive; so, the hawthorn still survives.

In the pond close to the garden entrance, two juvenile coots swim with their parents.

In the lawn on the bank of the pond are small mushrooms. They are Conocybe tenera.

We pass a nestbox. Birds use about half of the nest boxes in the garden.

In the systemic garden, torn fibrecap fungi. And Russula pectinatoides.

Also in the systemic garden, orchids: Epipactis helleborine. They grow here spontaneously, without caring about the principles of the systematic garden, where only plants related to each other should be in the same plots. However, as these orchid are a protected species, the garden management does not remove them. It puts a sign with their name next to them.

In the fern garden near the big pond, triple earthstars. This is the only earthstar species which is widespread in the Netherlands. Of the nineteen other species, eighteen grow practically only in the coastal sand dunes; one in Limburg province.

Xylaria longipes.

Ganoderma adspersum growing on a big old tree, where sometimes tawny owls nest.

Turkey tail growing on an old tree stump.

Trametes gibbosa, a species on which algae grow often.

Stereum hirsutum.

Polyporus varius.

Candlesnuff fungus.

Dead man’s fingers.

Under a piece of wood, two newt species: smooth newt and Alpine newts.

Smooth newts occur here naturally. Alpine newts don’t. So, why are they here?

Years ago, there was a house with a garden with a pond in it. In the pond lived two unusual newt species: Alpine newts and palmate newts.

This video is about Alpine newts.

The house was sold, and the old owner was not sure the new owners would care about the pond amphibians. So, the Alpine and palmate newts moved to the botanical garden. Strictly speaking that was illegal; as amphibians are not allowed to be just released into the wild.

The palmate newts did not survive the move; as they need very shallow water for reproduction, which does not exist in the botanical garden. There are plans to maybe make a new pond especially for amphibians.

However, the Alpine newts thrived. They were originally twenty; now, there are probably hundreds of them. They don’t always hide under pieces of wood together with smooth newts. Sometimes, they are in the company of toads or common frogs.

It is too late in the year already to find tadpoles in the stream.

In the big pond, the water tends to become salty. The bread, fed by visitors to the carp, causes this. To stop this, once a year, the pond is drained to let fresh water in. Then, roach and other non-carp fish, and non-gold coloured carp are removed from the pond to the canal a hundred meter away. In summer, the koi carp have young. These gold-coloured youngsters, easy to spot, attract attention of kingfishers and grey herons.

A small Eurasian toad under a stone. 2013 so far is a good year for amphibians.

Mower’s mushrooms on a lawn.

As I leave the botanical garden, two adult coots with their two chicks in the canal.

The juvenile herring gull sits on the old coot nest again. This time, it is not sleeping, but cleaning its feathers. In the canal, I had seen another juvenile gull, resting on a boat’s tarpaulin.

18 thoughts on “Fungi and amphibians in the botanical garden

  1. We’re planning to install a greenhouse in back of our house in the next few months. It will have a 700-gallon water tank for thermal mass. I don’t want to support the pet trade and buy aquatic creatures, but I’m thinking that the tank and greenhouse would provide a great home for some amphibians at a local animal shelter. I’ll bet I could find some. This video is wonderful!


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