Yesterday was the first day of the Fungus Weekend at The Dean Heritage Centre, I have been to the event once when I was younger and went on the walk, and then when I was working there I arranged the event but never got to go on the forary inspite of my best laid plans.
So this year it went on my ‘things to do and see’ list (along with seeing a Severn Bore) after I was made redundant from there.
The forary, and display, is arranged by the Dean Fungus Group*, who are a wonderful friendly group and all the members are very knowledgeable and willing to help in whatever way they can in passing on their knowledge of the subject.
The event is normally held later in the year, towards the end of the main fungus session, but this year it has been changed to be held at the start so as people who become interested have a chance to go out again before the end of the session, a very good idea but it’s down side is that it has been a very dry month, and so not many fungi out yet but still very worth while going.
Some of the things I learned on the two hour walk included:
- There are more fungi than plants in the UK, and they all plants have some sort of fungus helping them in some way.
- Puff balls have an eleven month growing cycle, they grow on tree stumps and their spores are spread on the wind but release from the fruit by rain drops
- Truffles grow under Beech trees on the ‘wet side of valleys’, the fruit is found under leaf litter from two to twelve meters away from the main tree truck. They spread their spores by encouraging flys to lay their eggs in the fruit, the maggots then eat their way our from the fruit, including some spores, and spread the spores in their poo once they have turned into flys. They are very rare in the UK
- Cauliflower fungi only grow on Scots Pines and have a taste like raw hazelnuts
- There is no difference between mushrooms and toadstools and the UK is the only place in Europe that has two words meaning the same thing, it is possible that this is because toadstools were considered sacred by druids and so ‘must not be eaten’ outside of rituals
- Chicken in the Wood mainly grow on Oak but also can be found on Sweet Chestnut, Ash and Yew. they should NEVER be eating if they are found growing on Yew as they absorb the trees toxins and will make you ill. They are a bracket fungus and will eventually kill the tree that they grow on although this will take upwards of thirty years
*the Dean Fungus Group do not appear to have their own website so I have linked to the Cotswold group who have contact details for the Dean Fungus Group and many others around the country