2015 Fungi Reports

Fungi report 2015

By Christine Whitehead

Autumn is a favourite time of year for everyone who loves fungus hunting. This is when many of the larger and most beautiful fungi are at their most conspicuous, producing the familiar toadstools that become abundant in woodlands across the globe. They mostly choose autumn as they depend on warm, moist conditions to feed and grow and autumn is the ideal time for reproduction.

Not all fungi are autumn species though: they can be found all the year round.
My first nice find of the year came in January, courtesy of YNHS member Jennie White. Jennie rang to say that a group of Scarlet Elf Cup had appeared on a fallen twig down by the river near Wensley. This is a most attractive fungus, which chooses to send out its fruiting bodies in the winter. Its bright red colour makes it relatively easy to spot in spite of its small size, and it is worth seeking out. It isn't abundant, but it is widespread.
Springtime brings its own crop of fungi of which the most conspicuous is St George's Mushroom (Calocybe gambosa). This is a large white mushroom that often grows in tight clusters and as the name suggests it tends to appear around St George's Day. It is widespread in the area so look for it from mid-March to the end of April.
 Another favourate spring mushroom is the Morel (Morchella esculenta). It likes calcareous soil and has been seen locally in the past, but not by me. If you spot any I would be interested in hearing about them.
The Spring Fieldcap (Agrocybe praecox) is often found in the area, either scattered or in small groups. It likes grassy areas alongside woodland edges, and I have often found it at Aysgarth. It was also found last year on the YNHS visit to Ingleborough Nature Reserve where it was growing on rotting straw, another of its favourite habitats.
Amongst the fungi that can be found throughout the year are bracket fungi. Dryad's Saddle is common in the area and can grow to impressive sizes, often on old ash trees. Chicken in the Woods is also frequently seen in the area and, as I write this report, a nice specimen is fruiting in one of the trees on the road to Catterick Garrison. So don't just think of fungi in autumn. They can be fun at all times of year: so keep your eyes open and report your finds.