Steve Ansdell, Durham University’s Horticultural Superintendant, showed me this spectacular display of toadstools in the grounds of Josephine Butler College today.
There must have been well over a thousand of them, spread over an area the size of a football pitch. By far the finest display of toadstools I've seen so far this autumn. They fit the description of Weeping Widow Lacrymaria velutina.
The caps of the young specimens had a distinctly fibrous appearance and the microscopic characters fitted the text-book description for this species.
Dark brown gills becoming increasingly black with age and, although it's not too evident in this specimen, wisps of the fibous veil that covered the gills in the young toadstool still clinging around the edge of the cap....
....and a distinctive black spore print
For a microscopic exploration of this fungus, take a look at http://beyondthehumaneye.blogspot.com/2009/10/these-are-radiating-gills-of-toadstool.html