Fungi are a fascinating and important part of the environment. Once you have become aware of fungi, a walk in the woods will never be the same again - where you previously passed by, you will now see the woodland floor come alive with a wealth of life you never noticed before.
Fungi are essential to the ecosystem; nearly all plants and trees rely on it for growth. It also provides vital habitats for many invertebrates. But can you tell an amethyst deceiver from a turkey tail?
You can find the answer on Friday, 30 October if you join Fungus Foray’ in Titchwell’s woodlands with county fungus recorder, Dr Tony Leech who will get your help to record fungal biodiversity – you find them and he will try to identify them! He will also offer tips for safe foraging.
Dr Leech says: “Fungi are the understated hero of the natural world, quietly carrying out its essential role in the cycle of life: decomposing dead plant and animal matter, bringing minerals to plants, and being a food source for invertebrates and mammals. Its role is comprehensive and often overlooked.
“Fungi are an important but unappreciated part of our world. Many of them are beautiful, some have intriguing smells - but most are quietly recycling nutrients and helping to run the planet without us noticing them. They’re a diverse group of living things and they do vital stuff that benefits the whole ecosystem. Without them, many plants and animals would not be able to exist.
“Native fungi, which are part of an ecosystem and have evolved with it, are vital to its functioning. Even those that cause disease can be important in controlling populations of plants or animals, and many insects that need dead wood depend on fungi to provide it. Fungal diseases are actually part of healthy woodlands and many of our most-threatened woodland species are those that depend on the rot and dead wood they cause.”
The UK has over 12,000 different species of fungi. Around 4,000 are mushrooms or other large fungi and the rest are tiny moulds, mildews, smuts, and rusts.
Fungi are neither animals nor plants. They share characteristics of both groups, being largely immobile, like plants, but unable to make their own food and so having to eat, like animals. They live on, in, and around the plants and animals that provide their sustenance.
The Fungus Foray will start at 10am at RSPB Titchwell Marsh. The walk costs £10 per person, and is open to adults and accompanied children, aged 12 years and over for £6.
For further information and to book a place, call 01485 210779 or go to www.rspb.org.uk/titchwell