Fungus Mungus in the Wood

The fungus season in Birchanger Wood is now virtually over. The autumn saw a wide variety of fruiting bodies bursting through the woodland floor and from rotting wood, as seen in these photos taken in the wood this year.

The fruiting bodies – some beautiful (such as lilac bonnet which lives in leaf litter) and some ugly (such as dog’s vomit slime mould that thrives in damp bark mulch) – are just a fraction of the fascinating organism that is neither plant nor animal.

While some fungus such as Hymenoscyphus fraxineus which causes ash dieback can attack and even kill trees, most fungus is beneficial for our woodland. They assist with the decomposition of dead vegetation, turning it into fertile soil. Mycorrhizal fungi help provide tree roots with water and nutrients. There are also parasitic fungi like “yellow brain” that feed on other fungi. Many fungal species will not even push out fruiting bodies or be detected outside a laboratory.

If you are interested in fungus identification and putting a name to the species in these photos, go to our mobile app download page and choose from one of the identification apps.

Thanks to Birchanger Wood trustee Jono Forgham for sending these photos and allowing us to publish them.