October wildlife - Fungi
Taking a gentle stroll through the Lanhydrock countryside at this time of year, you are likely to stumble across a troop of fresh mushrooms. (A tight group of mushrooms is called a cluster; a looser group is called a troop. If your mushrooms are scattered and irregular, they are gregarious!)
Mushrooms and other fungi have often been linked with fairies, written about in popular genre fiction and dating back to the ancient belief that circles of mushrooms spring up after the dancing steps of fairies. There is even debate about whether you would be wise to step into a circle! Legend has it that by doing so you can experience both good and bad luck, but either way, seeing a fairy-ring is certainly a delight.
Mushrooms and toadstools are both types of fungi, the fruiting bodies of a fungus. As well as their own scientific kingdom, they have been the inspiration for a rich folklore throughout the world. In common parlance, a mushroom is defined as edible, whereas a toadstool is not. Structurally and aesthetically these beautiful species are both fascinating, yet it’s best to avoid touching them unless you’re certain they are edible. Fungi are good recyclers, digesting food outside of their bodies, decomposing and breaking down once-living matter to release carbon, oxygen and nitrogen back into the air and contribute to a healthy soil.
Which mushrooms can you find at Lanhydrock?
(Latin name: Sparassis Crispa) also known as Wood Fungus or even Brain Fungus. It is a pretty creamy-white fungus with waved filigree patterns, becoming browner with age. It can be spotted at the base of trunks or stumps or perhaps the roots of conifers.
Shaggy Ink Cap
(Latin name: Corprinus comatus) or Lawyer’s Wig mushroom is unusual because it will turn black after picking in a short time. The gills beneath the cap are white, then turn pink, then black, secreting a black liquid (hence the name). Found across the estate these stately mushrooms grow in clusters or in long lines.
(Latin name: Trametes versicolour). Growing commonly on tree bark in tiled layers. The pore surface, a whitish to light brown, becomes more twisted and labyrinthine with age. It is referred to as turkey tail because of its mixtures of autumnal colours and body suggestive of a plumb of turkey feathers. Flies, beetles and moths are drawn to this mushroom resulting in a co-existing relationship.
(Latin name: Hypholoma) a beautiful red mushroom with white spots, perhaps the most iconic of the toadstool species suggestive of bewitched woods, far away castles and, of course, fairies. These have been spotted on the grassy banks of Lanhydrock and are a spectacular sight.
Chicken of the Woods
(Latin name: Laetiporus sulphureus) This bold, creamy yellow and orange fungus grows from the trunks of oak, cherry, sweet chestnut and poisonous yew trees. It is edible when cooked and makes a great substitute for meat in curries and stews.
(Latin name: Hypholoma fasciculare) A very common autumn mushroom that you're bound to see in every foray into the woods. A yellow to pale-brown colour, they can be found growing in tight clusters, often horizontally outwards from the tree trunk.
Find some funky fungi
If you haven't already, make sure you visit the 50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4 page and download the full list of activites and challenges. Why not find some funky fungi in your wellies and play a game of conkers while you're at it?