Great Outdoors Wednesday, November 25th

Mild autumn means fabulous fungi

A mild autumn means one thing to the county’s nature lovers – fabulous fungi.

And Herefordshire Wildlife Trust sees the chance of a new SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) on the evidence of what’s been springing up so far.

In another part of the county a fungi so rare only 200 have been recorded here over the past 400 years.

At Page's Pasture nature reserve in the north-east of the county, local fungi expert, Sheila Spence has identified 21 different species including several rarities.

Sheila said: “Staff at the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust suggested I visited their Page’s pasture reserve as there have been lots of fungi seen there recently. 

“I had a lovely walk round and collected quite an impressive list of records - 15 different species of waxcap, white spindles plus an earthtongue. 

“The numbers were remarkable and I really don't think I have seen such a display of pinkies before in Herefordshire!

Now, the trust hopes these records will contribute to the reserve becoming a designated SSSI which would recognise its national significance.

More weird and wonderful fungi have been found at Woodside nature reserve  too.

There, reserves officer, Doug Lloyd, came across a rare Microglossum.

Either Microglossum viride or Microglossum Olivacum – the difference is only discernible under a microscope – they are more commonly called earth tongue and only around 200 of this species have been recorded in the country since 1600.

Fungi come in all sorts of fantastical shapes, sizes and colours. Most recognisable is the classic fairytale toadstool – properly called fly agaric – but some fungi are more alien looking, such as the earthstar, or enormous like the puffball.

These types of fungi favour grassland habitat – fields and meadows – which have not been ploughed or fertilized for a considerable length of time - ideally never.

As this type of pasture becomes increasingly rare, so do the fungi which rely on it.

Anyone spotting fungi in the county can record their sighting on Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s website: www.herefordshirewt.org or email records@herefordshirewt.co.uk for help with identification.

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