Mushroom spotting at Aira Force
Mushrooms thrive off damp conditions, and with our woodlands at Aira Force being next to a waterfall and a stream, our woodlands are the perfect place to spot them. Why not drop by and see how many different species you can find?
Whilst the days are getting shorter and the air a little cooler, there is still so much to discover at Aira Force this autumn. It's a great time to visit any woodland, and those that surround our magnificent waterfall are no exception. The leaves are changing, and the huge collection of trees we have here offer a dazzling display of colour throughout your walk.
With all that going on above you it is easy to forget to look down, but the woodland floor is something worth noticing. The crisp leaves underfoot, the lichens and moss covering fallen branches and mushrooms. Autumn offers perfect conditions for many fungi species to flourish in and around the woodland here, and once you start looking, you will notice the abundance of fungi growing in every nook and cranny.
Mushrooms vary greatly and with all the different sizes, colours and shapes, they are an incredibly interesting subject – we headed out into Aira Force to see what we could find, and we were not disappointed! Here are a few of the different types we found…
The Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystina) is a small brightly coloured mushroom that grows in both deciduous and coniferous forests. The cap is 1-6cm in diameter and is a deep purplish lilac colour when moist; this colouring fades as the mushroom dries out. The stem is the same colour as the cap and is fibrous, hollow and fairly tough. It appears in later summer to early winter and has been coined the deceiver as its bright amethyst colouration fades with age and weathering, often making it difficult to identify.
The Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa) is a jelly fungus that has a bright orange/yellow colour with a gelatinous texture and is slimy to the touch. It is relatively large for a jelly fungus, growing to about 10cm in height. It is widespread usually growing on decaying conifer wood, typically stumps and roots. It fruits throughout the year but is most commonly seen in autumn.
The Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare), also known as the clustered woodlover is a common woodland mushroom and can often be found growing where no other mushrooms grow. The cap can reach 6cm and is sulphur yellow with an orange brown centre. It grows prolifically on the dead wood of both the coniferous and deciduous trees and appears anytime from spring to autumn.
Hairy Curtain Crust
The Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum histutum) is a fungus that varies much in colour, often making it quite difficult to identify. It has rippled edges and is commonly quite hairy when fruitbodies are young, however these do become smoother with age. It is common and widespread throughout Britain but is considered a truly international fungus, as it is deemed native to many countries across the world. It grows on dead hardwood trees and fallen branches, particularly oak and beech.
The Common Rustgill (Gymnopilus penetrans) grows on rotting stumps, fallen branches and wherever conifer debris has become buried on the woodland floor, they can usually be spotted in Britain from June to November. The cap is between 4-8cm across becoming flatter and developing a central depression. The caps are silky smooth or sometimes felty, with an orange-brown centre and lighter towards the edges. Common Rustgills are becoming more common due to the increased use of woodchip mulch as a means to control weeds by gardeners.
The False Deathcap (Amanita citrina) is found amongst hardwood and softwood trees but particularly often under beech trees. It is very common in mixed woodland and thrives on alkaline or neutral soil. It can be found in Britain between August and November. The cap is 5-10cm in diameter and although initially rounded will flatten at maturity. It has been noted that the flesh of a young False Deathcap smells like a cut raw potato, an odour they lose with maturity.
The Blusher (Amanita rubescens) is common among hardwood and softwood trees, growing alone or more often in small groups. The cap is 5-20cm in diameter varying in colour from white to shades of pink and brown right through to almost black. The cap can usually be seen with off-white or grey fragments of universal veil; however these can be washed away in very wet weather. They are initially domed but flatten with maturity and when damaged the gills and cap turn a deep pink or dull red colour. They’re common in Britain between June and October but have been seen as late as December in mild weather.
Please leave all mushrooms for others to enjoy and we would advise that they’re best to look at rather than to touch. If you do touch them, make sure you wash your hands before eating anything, and please don’t eat the mushrooms.
We love seeing what can be discovered in and around the woodland at Aira Force; if you make any exciting discoveries on your next visit make sure you share your photos with us on our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/AiraForceNT.