Fungi at Croome
Croome is a great place for enjoying autumn colours, after dry summers, the autumn rains start the fungi growing.
The woodland floor bursts with a great variety of mushrooms and toadstools, living and dead trees and fallen timber will provide homes for bracket fungi.
When can you find fungi?
Fungi don’t just pop up by magic. We see them mainly in the autumn, when it’s wet but usually still warm enough to provide good conditions for growth.
The important part of a fungus lives underground all the year round. This compact mycelium, composed of thousands of little white threads, will produce the familiar mushrooms and toadstools.
These fruiting bodies ripen their primitive seeds, known as spores, which are then released into the air to spread the next generation.
Where can fungi be found at Croome?
Look on the trunks of older trees and any branches which have started to rot and are lying on the ground in the woodlands. This image of the Chicken of the Woods was taken on a yew tree in the Home Shrubbery. You can also find this fungi on some of the older trees near the lake. You’ll find fungi popping up through grassy areas and amongst the shrubs too as the mycelium spreads around the garden.
How many different fungi are there?
Croome offers a good home to fungi, with many different varities being found here through the seasons. They vary from the very common to the quite rare and from the edible to the poisonous.
You can find many brightly coloured species in the leaf litter and around the trees if you look.
What do the fungi do for the woodland?
Fungi are vitally important for the health of woodland. These natural rotters keep our woods tidy and clear for us to walk through and in doing so recycle the nutrients needed for living plants to thrive.
What to look out for?
Some species to look out for are the Laetiporus, a genus of edible mushrooms found throughout much of the world. Some species, especially Laetiporus sulphureus, are commonly known as sulphur shelf, chicken of the wood, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because many think they taste like chicken.
Coprinus comatus, commonly referred to as either the Shaggy Inkcap or the Lawyer's Wig, is a large and conspicuous edible (when young and fresh) fungus. It occurs in meadows, woods and roadside verges.
The well-known fly agaric, arguably one of the most famous fungi, is famous for its brightly red coloured cap and is the subject of folklore and fairy tales.
Never eat any fungi you have picked without being absolutely sure of the identification, verified by an expert.
Useful guide to fungi
You may find it useful to refer to a guide book when looking for fungi and the Collins Gem Guide – Mushrooms by Patrick Harding and Alan Outen is a good place to start.
Remember that some fungi are poisonous...