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Fascinating, Fragile Fungi

Posted: Friday 8th September 2017 by Community

Fascinating, fragile fungi in Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Community Wildlife Officer Ellen Winter on the stunning fungi that can be found on our nature reserves

Did you know that in centuries past wild orchid flowers and roots were collected as highly prized food? Nowadays the UK’s wild orchids are protected and cherished for their gorgeous blooms. So are wild fungi different? They can be just as rare, beautiful and difficult to find as wild orchids.

I see many stunning fungi around Gloucestershire, from gorgeous ruched amethyst deceiver mushrooms - the equal of any orchid - to delicately branching coral fungus, looking for all the world as if they belong on a tropical reef.

As with orchids, it seems such a shame to pick or damage them, even when they are not protected by legislation. Many people love to visit Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s woodland nature reserves for the wonderful autumnal delights. It’s easy to love the standout bright purples, oranges and pinks, but if you take your time to look very closely you will also be rewarded: turning over a log to find a blue velvet cobalt crust, or slim golden antlers, is as exciting for adults as it is for children. And appreciating the silk and velvet banding of common turkey tail bracket requires a keen eye for detail.

Locally we also have statuesque magpie ink caps. As the name suggests, the tops are patched black and white, and they stand poised on svelte white marble stems, reaching over a foot high. Not to mention the tiny, exquisitely ribbed, cream parachute mushrooms that look like fairies who have been skydiving from the tree branches above.

The plums and custard mushroom is just as aptly named, with the cap a bright purple, rich yellow gills and a stem that reflects the swirled look of stewed plums and custard in a bowl.

Like orchids, you may also come across fungi with beautiful fragrances, those that are scented like honey, sweet almonds or coconut and those reminiscent of aniseed or apricots. But be warned, others can smell of coal gas, goats or garlic.

So perhaps the next time you see autumn fungi popping up, treat them like orchids. Admire them, but please leave them for others to enjoy and for the wildlife that depends on them.

If you would like to find out more about the fascinating kingdom of fungi, keep an eye on our events page.

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