Fungi come alive
(Above) Ballarina Waxcap (Below in order) Scarlet Waxcap, Parrott Waxcap, Hairy Earthtongue, Holly Parachute © Maurits Fontein
Kingcombe is famous for the glittering colours of wildflowers, but it is also nationally important for fungi! Maurits Fontein takes a look at waxcaps
Now is the time of the year for fungi to start showing themselves. For much of their lives, fungi are made up of webs of matter we know as ‘mould’ and are not visible. Many of them feed on rotting matter, which becomes abundant late in the summer and autumn as the leaves fall off the trees.
There are 12,000 British fungi!
What we actually see now are the fruiting bodies of the mushroom, which appear suddenly, and disappear just as quickly. There are about 12,000 British fungi, of which 3000 are visible to the naked eye and of which 250 are easily recognisable.
540 species of fungi recorded at Kingcombe Meadows
At Kingcombe Meadows reserve a total of 540 species of fungi have been recorded. The fact that most species of flowering plants including ferns, mosses, lichens and insects are mostly confined to old woods and meadows, is also true for fungi. The oldest habitats are the best, especially when they are large and relatively undisturbed.
22 species of waxcap at Kingcombe!
One important group of grassland fungi are the Waxcaps. The presence of colourful Waxcap fungi is a sure sign of old unimproved grassland. All waxcaps are very brightly coloured like the green, orange, yellow or bluish Parrot Waxcap. There are 22 species of waxcap on Kingcombe including several uncommon in lowland Britain, and most are confined to acid grassland communities. This makes the site of national, if not international importance for Waxcaps. Another brightly coloured one is the Scarlet Waxcap. The Pink Meadow or Ballerina Waxcap can be easily recognised although it is rare in lowland Britain.
Look out for Hairy Earthtongue...
Other amazing fungi to look out for are the Earthtongues, like the Hairy Earthtongue, which appear upright protruding from Sphagnum moss growing in bogs, or just simply admire the incredible Holly Parachute.
Join a fungi foray!
Autumn is the best time to see this amazing fungi world! Why not join one of our Fungi Forays with John Wright, an expert forager and fungi enthusiast at Kingcombe this November.