Lauren and I have just returned from a fungal forage in the forest with John Bailey and his team of intrepid fungi experts. It’s not been the best weather for fungi recently due to poor rainfall, but we remained optimistic of some good finds.
The first notable find of the day was a tiny fungus called Mycena stylobates. Although not rare, this was an excellent discovery considering our less than favourable conditions.
John’s enthusasim for all things fungal was clearly evident along the way, and that’s no surprise condiering the important role that these organisms play in the forest. Being saprophytic, fungi break down dead organic matter. Their almost invisible mycelium spread across the forest floor – so even when you can’t see fungus, they are everywhere.
Our next find was a beautiful slime mold called Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa. Although not a fungus, these single-celled protists were once classified as such. Fungi thsemselves can be divided into three broad groups. Those that rot logs, pathogens which attack plants and soil fungi which infect plant roots.
It wasn’t long before we came across our best find – a toadstool named Pluteus cervinus, otherwise called deer shield. Best identified by its pink spores, this species grows on wood.