With the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions preventing any group activity in the early months of 2021, we take a moment to reflect on the natural beauty provided by fungi in our countryside and share some of the images we have previously collected. It is not intended to provide identification of individual species which is adequately covered by reference books, but to appreciate the wonderful colours, shapes, sizes and formations they provide.
Generally, fungi are a large class of organisms which have a structure similar to plants but lack the chlorophyll which would otherwise enable them to build up the carbon compounds that are the essence of life. To compensate for this they draw their sustenance ready-made from live or dead plants and animals.
The composition of fungus to enable this takes the form of minute filaments like hairs which are called hyphae. These develop into a cobweb-like net formation of fine, hairy strands which grow through the material that contains the required nutrition. It then extracts this nutrition from it. These strands are referred to as the mycelium. The fungi that we observe are the fruiting bodies that result from the conjoining of two mycelia of the same species when the conditions of humidity, temperature, light and nutrition are met. The resulting mushroom or fungus formation is the part of the organism which develops to form and distribute spores to enable them to reproduce. This stage is seen mostly in the late summer or autumn.
The resulting elegant formations we witness are usually the reason we pause for a moment from our conservation activities to admire and often record them. We take this opportunity to share some of these images with you.
Some grow on wood.
Some grow in soil.
Some species are found only in woodland.
Some species thrive in grassland fields.
Some appear on the trunks of trees.
Generally they all form in soil, woodland or manure.
Some grow under or near different species of plant or tree.
Some require either acidic or chalky soils.
Decaying wood is a good foundation for many species…
….especially if it is damp.
Some have a mat appearance….
….whilst others have a waxy surface.
Appearances can vary considerably.
Some take a blanket form on the bark of dead trees.
Others appear as colourful enrichment to surrounding natural terrain.
There are approximately 3000 species of larger fungi found in Great Britain. They grow in a multitude of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns of growth. They have varying preferred locations for growth and are mostly poisonous to eat. These are a few of the many that we have encountered during our nature conservation activities and photographed.