Fun with fungi

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - RETAIL THERAPY - Wendy Tob­bit is the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust me­dia man­ager. Her col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly

IT’S UK Fun­gus Day this week­end (yes, the ‘day’ is ex­tended across 48 hours), and at Col­lege Lake, the Wildlife Trust is cel­e­brat­ing the ar­rival of na­ture in its weird and beau­ti­ful forms.

Fungi are na­ture’s orig­i­nal re­cy­clers. They come in all shapes, colours and sizes – pen­cil thin or beef­steak thick, bright scar­let, deep pur­ple or pale ghostly white, as big as a foot­ball or a mere smear of slime.

Fungi are es­sen­tial for the good health of our land. We need them in our gar­dens, wood­lands and mead­ows be­cause they turn leaf lit­ter, dead veg­e­ta­tion and wood into nu­tri­ents that feed the soil and the plants that thrive there.

This week the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust is run­ning spe­cial Fungi Days at its Col­lege Lake na­ture re­serv with trails, spot­ter sheets and chil­dren’s arts and crafts on Satur­day and Sun­day, from 10.30am to 3pm each day.

Join a Fungi Walk be­tween 11am and 12.30pm on each day to find out from knowl­edge­able ex­perts why fungi are so ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Owain He­garty, the war­den at Col­lege Lake, is look­ing for­ward to the events.

He said: “We want ev­ery­one to have fun and learn about th­ese amaz­ing liv­ing or­gan­isms safely. Our ex­perts are from the Bucks Fun­gus Group and the Herts and Beds Fungi Group, and they will be lead­ing the walks around the na­ture re­serve.

“Some of the fungi here have amaz­ing names: Wrin­kled Peach, Smoky Spin­dles, Meadow Co­ral and Black­en­ing Wax­cap. Many of them, like the Birch We­b­cap, are ined­i­ble, but the Shaggy Inkcap, which is some­times known as Lawyer’s Wig, can be eaten when it’s young,”

For­ag­ing for fungi has be­come a lu­cra­tive pas­time for peo­ple who have per­mis­sion to har­vest th­ese very spe­cial fruit­ing bod­ies. Col­lect­ing fungi to eat is not per­mit­ted on pro­tected sites, in­clud­ing Wildlife Trust’s na­ture re­serves.

The Wild Mush­room Picker’s Code of Con­duct strongly ad­vises peo­ple to learn from ex­perts be­fore they start and only pick a few fungi for their own con­sump­tion. Most fungi are ined­i­ble or poi­sonous, so never pick un­less you are ab­so­lutely cer­tain that it is safe and le­gal to do so.

Have a fun Fungi Day at Col­lege Lake in­stead! www.bbowt.org.uk/col­lege­lake.

Mak­ing its pres­ence felt is Shaggy Inkcap or Lawyer’s Wig

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