Tag Archives: Fungi

Fungal Foray 2018

A large group gathered in the autumn sunshine at Bourne Wood for a fungal foray led by Dr Vin Fleming.

The long, dry summer seemed to have reduced the number and variety of mushrooms and toadstools in the wood. Despite this, an enthusiastic group of around 35 adults and children still managed to gather a reasonable number of different species.

selection of fungi
An enthusiastic group of around 35 adults and children still managed to gather a reasonable number of different species.

Vin pointed out that in Great Britain, there are some 12,000 fungi species, which means that even experts are unable to identify every species that might be encountered on a foray.

What was striking was the range of sizes, shapes and colours of the fungi collected. Vin also showed us the very strange striate earth stars growing around the base of a conifer.

Several bracket fungi growing on tree trunks, stumps and fallen branches included the birch polypore, the blushing bracket, the latter so-called as it blushes wine red when the surface is rubbed or damaged and the very common turkey tail fungus.

Probably the largest toadstool collected was the pale-coloured trooping funnel while much smaller in stature was the yellow stagshorn fungus with its golden yellow finger-like branches.

A number of specimens of the attractive lilac bonnet fungus were also found. This widespread species of deciduous woodland is mildly toxic and is one of several fungi that are phosphorescent – that is it glows in the dark! Another attractive mushroom with a pale-yellow cap turned out to be a false death cap (Amanita citrina). Unlike its close relative, the deadly poisonous death cap (Amanita phalloiides), this species is not seriously toxic!

lilac bonnet fungi
The Lilac Bonnet mushroom – poisonous!

A delightful find was the rather uncommon magpie inkcap so-called because as the gills of the cap age, they deliquesce forming a black inky liquid.

Arguably one of the more bizarre fungi encountered were the coal-like Kind Alfred’s cakes (Daldinia concentrica) living on dead wood and which is inedible. The story behind the name of this species is recounted in the article here.

All in all an interesting, informative and enjoyable few hours. Thanks are due to Vin for his time and expertise.

Photographs Steve Goddard and Richard Jefferson.

Fungi Foray 2016

The enduring appeal of mushrooms and toadstools ensured that around 30 people turned out for the fungi foray in Bourne Woods in late October. Dr Vin Fleming gave a brief introductory talk on fungi before we set off into the woods armed with our various collecting baskets and containers.

An hour or so later the group had amassed a diverse collection of different types and Vin set about trying to identify what the group had picked.

golden spindles fungi
One of the stranger species was the Golden Spindles which we found in grassland near the car park.

One of the stranger species was the golden spindles which we found in grassland near the car park while arguably the most unusual coloured species was the lilac toadstool known as the amethyst deceiver.

blushing bracket fungi
Blushing Bracket fungi.

Other types we found included the common puff ball (edible when young!), shaggy ink cap, sulphur tuft (a poisonous species), trouping funnel cap, blushing bracket, honey fungus, and the ochre brittlegill, the latter so-called due to its dull yellow cap.

collection of fungi
Although it may seem rather destructive, small-scale collecting of fungi is not detrimental to maintaining populations of the various fungi.

Although it may seem rather destructive, small-scale collecting of fungi is not detrimental to maintaining populations of the various fungi. Mushrooms and toadstools are just the fruiting bodies of the fungus and the bulk of a fungus is underground forming a vast web of branching threads known as the mycelium. Of course, more caution would be required with very rare species of fungi or where fungi are being collected commercially.

Fungus Foray With Dr Vin Fleming

Armed with bags, baskets and buckets of enthusiasm, a large group of foragers set out on Sunday keen to delve into the dark and often mysterious world of fungi. A lovely sunny afternoon greeted us and under the expert guidance of Dr Vin Fleming, we set off through the autumn undergrowth.

Dr Fleming began by setting younger foragers the challenge of finding the biggest and brightest fungi, but I think it fair to say that a general sense of competition ran through the entire group as parents, grand-parents, aunts and uncles set their sights on searching out the most spectacular of the fungus world.

And we weren’t disappointed. From creamy Giant Funnel Caps to the tiny but brilliantly green Parrot Waxcap and the delicate almost translucent parasol of the Pleated Ink Cap, around 40 species were found by more than 50 foragers in less than an hour – a spectacular result and a surprise for many to learn just what tiny treasures grow beneath our feet.

Dr Fleming regaled us with tales of shamanic rituals involving the striking but psychoactive red and white Amanita Muscaria – more commonly known as Fly Agaric. He demonstrated how the humble Puffball cleverly disperses its spores in the wind, and on our behalf he tasted the milk from an innocuous looking Lactarius Milk Cap only to report the flavour not dissimilar to battery acid.

On the subject of taste, the most common question posed to our expert was perhaps unsurprisingly: “Is it edible?” Dr Fleming was at pains to point out that eating fungi other than those bought at a supermarket is something best left to the highly trained, despite the temptations of a seemingly endless supply of free food.

But if we couldn’t eat them, we could definitely smell them and much joy was had discovering their perfume; from the pleasant essence of aniseed and cinnamon, to the less agreeable whiff of old laundry and raw potatoes. And for those able to identify the smell, it was reported that the odours of disused lift shafts, Russian leather and even bed bugs are not unusual bouquets to find among the fungi family!

This was a highly enjoyable, entertaining and educational event. As one young forager said: “I really loved it, next time I come to the Woods, I’ll be looking down at the ground as well as all around me!”

Words by Kate Starlling
Photographs by Esme Redshaw