I remember when I started to become interested in fungi, I was watching a film that was aired on BBC’s Autumnwatch a few years ago and my imagination was captured. Who knew they were so fascinating!
From then I started to take more notice when out for walks and signed up for a Fungi walk that was taking place at Pitmedden Gardens . It was great to go on a guided walk and find out more about their mysterious world.
I’m not very good at identifying them! I find it a bit overwhelming as there are so many species that are similar, but I like to go looking for them and photograph them. I got myself a little guide – The Wildlife Trusts Concise Mushroom Guide handy for your pocket. Recently I’ve managed to ID 3 different finds as Dryad’s Saddle thanks to an Instagram Story that The FUNgi Guy did as part of #30DaysWild, I also sent him the pics which he kindly looked at to confirm!
My enthusiasm has even rubbed off on Robin who is a dab hand at identifying a Fly Agaric (and knows they are poisonous) and even calls it by its proper name rather than saying it’s a toadstool.
This month I was thrilled to see that a fungi has re-appeared on a tree stump I regularly drive past. A few years ago I saw it and it was absolutely huge! I was delighted to see it was back this year and couldn’t help shrieking “Robin, look out the window at that fungi!!” In autumn I’ll also hunt around my workplace for fungi telling my team mates “I’m off to find some fungi!”
Here are some fascinating facts about fungi:
1. Mushrooms, toadstools, fungi, what are they?
For a start these organisms are a family of their own! They don’t belong to the animal kingdom, plant kingdom or bacteria! They don’t eat and they can’t make energy from the sun. They breakdown organic matter to get energy. The mushroom or toadstool is the part that you see and is actually the fruiting body, there is so much more going on underground.
2. So what else is there?
Underground there is a whole other world of fine threads called hyphae which are invisible to the naked eye but can be seen when they clump together baring a resemblance to sewing thread. Collectively these are known as mycelium. They can exist for centuries and break down rotting leaves or in some cases wrap themselves around tree roots forming something called mycorrhizal symbiosis. This may sound like a negative thing but it is actually a mutually beneficial arrangement. The fungus can provide nutrients such as phosphates and even protection from parasites to the tree and return receives sugars. That’s some great teamwork!
3. When can I see them?
More fungi fruit in the autumn than in spring but you can still find them now. Generally they fruit from May to October. If the winter is mild they may continue to fruit until the following spring. Wet weather is good too so if it has just been raining you may find more than if the weather has been dry.
4. They have some amazing names!
Here are a few: Bitter Poison Pie, The Deceiver, Destroying Angel, Dog Stinkhorn and Hairy Curtain Crust…wow!
5. They can be very dangerous and even kill if eaten!
Never ever eat a mushroom unless you 100% know what it is. This is made even more tricky by the fact that some species can look similar or that there may be a poisonous species growing close to edible ones. Read more about the 7 most dangerous mushrooms in the UK
Not convinced how amazing they are? Then you need to watch these videos!
Timelapse of Fungi – Robin loves watching this video too 🍄
I would also recommend checking out The FUNgi guy on Instagram for his entertaining, fun and informative fungi content.
Happy hunting 🍄