Ramularia purpurascens and should we care?
A couple of weeks ago I visited the River Hogsmill at Bourne Hall, Ewell. I posted an image of a flowering Winter Heliotrope which prompted the following comment from pan-list professional, Seth Gibson:
"I trust you saw the Ramularia purpurascens all over the Winter Heliotrope then?"
Er... pardon? Ram what? I had to Google it. Apparently it's an anamorphic fungus. Does that make it a mushroom, or some sort of shady version of one, like a rust or that white powdery stuff that appears in the superior fungi guides. They don't all look like Fly Agaric, do they...
Anyhow, I was back at Ewell briefly this morning, so I thought I'd better take a closer look at the Heliotropes (of which there was so much more in flower). And many leaves had obvious browny-mauve splodges on them, with paler centres. A bit of internet detective work suggests that I had, indeed, captured Ramularia purpurascens.
There are literally thousands of species out there, in our gardens, parks and woods, that are so unobtrusive (or just plain hidden), that we ignore them - well, obviously Seth doesn't. These are as much a species as anything else, even Wallcreeper, and as such deserve to be looked at and studied. It might not be showy, but is as much a deserving life form as you and I. If you see any Winter Heliotrope when you are next out, take a look at the leaves and prepare to bow before Ramularia purpurascens!