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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.

John Bailey

John examining some rotten wood

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.

Close up of Mycena stylobates

Close-up of the tiny Mycena stylobates

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.

John Bailey inspecting slime mold

Inspecting the slime mold Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa

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.

John Bailey with deer shield fungus

Deer shield has pink spores

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