23 Aug 2018

Giant mushroooms appear after hot summer

Bruce Langridge

“I wonder what unusual fungi might appear after such a hot summer’.

I’m paraphrasing a conversation with long-time fungi recorder for Carmarthenshire, Dr.Philip Jones. In 1976 Philip had discovered a rare fungus called the thimble morel Verpa conica in Llanelli after that summer’s heatwave, when it was thought the exceptional weather was just right for the rarely fruiting fungus.

Yesterday, I may have witnessed the first fascinating fungal response to this year’s heatwave. The Garden has erupted in huge boletes – fungi that have pores instead of gills. I’ve been looking for fungi for years now but I’ve never seen boletes appearing like this before, nor so many different types of fungi in August. Springwoods had a variety of boletes which looked like they should be easy to identify but like most fungi, really need a detailed examination of spores to make an accurate identification.

Luckily I was with several members of the Carmarthenshire Fungus Group who were having their regular ‘3rd Tuesday of the month’ meeting here in the Garden.

We were joined by Garden science students Sarah and Lydia, who took us to see fungi they’d spotted on their walk into work –  we couldn’t put a name to a patch of very gilled fungi in a patch of willow whilst an Amanita sp. on a meadow looked very poisonous.  At Waun Las bridge, we found some enormous penny buns Boletus edulis, normally a foragers favourite but these have been colonised by a white fungal bloom which, I’m told, looks amazing under the microscope.

The fields of our organically managed Waun Las NNR were full of dung fungi but the species that caught my eye was what I first thought was a waxcap but turned out, after microscopic work by Emily Ivens, to be a pink gill, possibly Entoloma lucidum, which has only been tentatively recorded on Waun Las once before in 2011. It might not look like much but it tells us that we’re managing our land well for fungi.

If you’d like to know more about fungi, we have a Wales Fungus Day event here on 14th October, and on Wednesday 10th October, to celebrate UK Fungus Day,  I’ll be running a ‘Get to Know your Garden Fungi’ day course here, as part of our Growing the Future project. Bookings for this go on sale next week.