|Autumnâ€™s here - and so are our fungi!|
Now is the time to get out and about to look for the amazing range of fungi species that occur in the county. Fungi occur almost anywhere and have and extremely important role in recycling nutrients, breaking down and dead wood and helping the plants they associate with grow. We would be knee deep in rotting vegetation without them! Most of the year they are virtually invisible, growing in the soil or rotted wood, it is the damp autumn months that cause the range of mushrooms and toadstools (the ‘fruiting body’) to emerge from the soil.
Dr Alan Gange, a mycologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, using data on fungi collected by his father in the Salisbury area since 1950 has found that the mushroom season in the UK has doubled in length in the UK from 33 days to nearly 75 days on average. Fungi are also starting to fruit earlier and finish later.
It also appears that wild mushrooms and toadstools are becoming more widespread in Britain. This may be due to the warmer conditions increasing the ability of the fungus to compete for the ‘host’ species with other less adaptable species. This will allow the fungi to this gather more nutrients and be able to produce more mushrooms and increase the number of host species on which they can grow.
Dr Gange's research has shown that the Butter Cap fungus, which grows in leaf litter under oak trees has now started to grow mainly under beech trees. Chanterelle mushrooms are increasingly found under birch trees while it was previously restricted to oak and beech trees while the cep, or porcini mushroom – popular in Italian cooking – is now commonly found with conifer trees even thought it was previously common under only oak and beech.
A specific range of fungi grow in our grasslands, these attractive fungi with exotic names such as waxcaps, fairy clubs, coral and earth tongues, are collectively included in the ‘waxcap-grassland’ fungi group. They range in colour from pink to and yellow to green but are less common now due to the intensification of agriculture on one hand or lack of management on the other. Churchyards can be especially good for these fungi as the short grass required is often maintained here and fertilizers not used.
Guidance for managing grassland for fungi can be found on the excellent Pembrokeshire Fungus Recording Network - www.pembsfungi.org.uk . Information on Carmarthenshire’s fungi can be found on the Carmarthenshire Biodiversity website: www.carmarthenshirebiodiversity.gov.uk in the local groups section.
October 16th, Sunday, 2pm. Pembrey Country Park. Meet at the visitor centre SN402001. The entry fee for motor vehicles applies.
October 22nd, Saturday, 2pm. Lower Lliedi Reservoir. Meet at the car park on the west side of the A476 towards the top of the hill (just after the houses), Swiss Valley, Llanelli. SN520031.
November 5th, Saturday, 2pm. Wildlife and Wetlands Centre, Penclacwydd, Llanelli. This meeting is organised by the centre with numbers attending limited so booking is essential and a small fee for administration charged in addition to the usual entrance fee.