27 October, 2013

Autumn fungi

Fungi are at their most spectacular in autumn, especially after damp or wet weather, when all manner of weird and wonderful specimens can be found growing in damp grass, on trees, or amongst the leaf litter of a British woodland.  They appear only fleetingly, as what we recognise as 'fungi' are just the fruiting bodies, produced to spread the fungus' spores to new territory.  As soon as the spores have been released to drift away on the wind, the fruiting bodies have done their job and many will shrivel and disappear within a few days.

Many conservation charities, such as local wildlife trusts, the National Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) organise guided fungi walks in the autumn, with an expert on hand to identify the fungi.  If you thought fungi were just dowdy little brown mushrooms, prepare to be surprised. The sheer variety of colour, shape and size is astonishing:

Some of the fungi found on a fungus walk

Close-up of some of the finds. The red and green fungi are called rustulas

These purple fungi are called Amethyst Deceivers (a romantic name if ever there was one)

Earthball fungus, with a section cut through it to show the spores in the centre

Section through a stinkhorn egg.  The white area in the centre will eventually form the stalk, while the outer layer will form the cap and the striated middle layer will form the spore-containing gills.  A mature Stinkhorn lives up to its name (!), and is best avoided.

Turkey's Tail fungus


Constance Brewer said...

So which ones can you eat?

Carla said...

I was so impressed by the sheer variety that I lost track :-)

Gabriele Campbell said...

Probably not one called Amethyst Deceiver. ;-)

Carla said...

Gabriele - possibly not. Depends on what it is deceiving about :-) The name is great - doesn't it sound like the title of a noir thriller?

Neil Mahler. said...

In reply to the silly question from Constance, the answer is "All of them" - SOME ONLY ONCE !

Admire them for their beauty and let the wild animals do the eating.