Very rare ‘strangler’ fungus discovered…just in time for Halloween

Powdercap Strangler mushroom
Published : 30 Oct 2017 Last update : 31 Oct 2017

An extremely rare fungus with a lethal survival technique and eerie name has been discovered on our land – the Powdercap Strangler.

The Powdercap Strangler is a parasitic fungus that grows by body-snatching another grassland fungus.

Visitors taking part in an organised foraging hunt at Clumber Park made the unsettling discovery of the two-coloured toadstool, caused by the strangler infecting and eventually overcoming, its host.

Dr Gareth Griffith, Reader in Mycology at Aberystwyth University, said, ‘The Powdercap Strangler (Squamanita paradoxa) is an intriguing fungus. Rather like the monster in the film ‘Alien' it takes over the body of its host (Cystoderma amianthinum) and its mushroom erupts in place of the host's mushroom. This is a really exciting find.’

The strangler has only been recorded in a handful of locations across the UK, and is one of only ten parasitic fungi found worldwide.

Carl Hawke, our Wildlife & Countryside Adviser, said, ‘We’re extremely grateful to our volunteers and visitors who give their time to support our conservation work. It’s these kinds of remarkable finds that often inspire others to connect with and help protect the natural world around us.'

We are undertaking an £8.5 million restoration programme of Clumber Park, which includes restoring areas of heathland and other important habitats for wildlife. This is part of our wider ambition to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat by 2025.