Fungi to be around...

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - WILD LIFE -

New life is spring­ing from the earth and re­leas­ing un­usual smells. Coal-gas, aniseed and sickly sweet per­fume: the scents of fungi fill the au­tumn breezes.

The pun­gent scent of aniseed in de­cid­u­ous wood­land is the clue to start look­ing for groups, and some­times rings, of blue-green and grey caps of Aniseed Fun­nel. These are ed­i­ble fungi, but do not con­fuse them with the deadly poi­sonous Ivory Fun­nel, which also grows in rings or the sim­i­larly-coloured Verdi­gris Agaric.

Bern­wood For­est is a fan­tas­tic place for a wide va­ri­ety of fungi. Among the trees you may smell and then see the poi­sonous all-yel­low Sul­phur Knight, which stinks of coal-gas, and the pink Rosy Bon­net, also poi­sonous, with an un­pleas­ant scent!

The dis­tinc­tive scent of Mousepee Pinkgill (poi­sonous) will be ev­i­dent be­fore you see its yel­low­ish broad cap with a bluish-green ‘bruise’ in the mid­dle.

This fun­gus is sim­i­lar to the Par­rot Wax­cap (ined­i­ble) which is of­ten found in lawns and heath­land; its bell-shaped slimy green cap changes to yel­low­ish green and even pink.

Conifer plan­ta­tions such as Fine­mere Wood are good places to look out for Plums and Cus­tard, a fun­gus that grows on and around conifer stumps. It smells of rot­ting wood, which is ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause this is an ined­i­ble fun­gus.

You may find Slip­pery Jack, an ed­i­ble fun­gus with a very slimy ch­est­nut brown cap, among Scots Pine; and where there are larches look out for Larch Bo­lete, an­other ed­i­ble fun­gus, with a yel­low cap flushed rusty brown.

Both of these fungi have pore-like tubes in­stead of gills on the un­der­side.

Beech woods in the Chilterns, such as Dancersend na­ture re­serve near Wen­dover, are great places for fungi walks. Look for the Col­lared Earth­star whose outer skin splits into four to eight seg­ments giv­ing it the ap­pear­ance of a pointed star.

Most iden­ti­fi­able among all the toad­stools is the poi­sonous Fly Agaric whose dis­tinc­tive white-spot­ted red cap is the stuff of child­hood fairy tales. Look for it par­tic­u­larly near birch trees. It doesn’t have a par­tic­u­lar smell but be­ing so easy to iden­tify is al­ways a re­ward­ing fungi to find!

When out and about on a wood­land walk, make sure to use all your senses so you don’t miss out on some of the sea­son’s more in­ter­est­ing fungi.

Learn more about our lo­cal fungi from this handy pock­et­sized book: A guide to find­ing fungi in Berks, Bucks & Oxon (£5.95 Pisces Pub­li­ca­tions) www.na­ture­bu­reau.co.uk/ book­shop.

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