Sunday, 23 November 2014

Mushroomy Things!

This was on an old tree stump.
Oh dear, late again... This is supposed to be a Saturday Snapshot, but I'm having a Sunday Snapshot this week instead, because Blogger had a hissy fit about uploading piccies and came to a full stop every time I tried to do it. Fortunately it seems to be working OK this morning, and it's still Sunday in some parts of the world, so let's go for it!
And this was on the same tree, but I'm not sure if it's the same species or not.
I think they look some alien life form which might crawl off across the landscape!
Has anyone else noticed how many fungi seem to be around this year? There are more than I ever remember seeing before, and there seems to be variety than I’ve spotted before. Everywhere I’ve walked this week I’ve seen mushroomy things… In hedgerows and meadows, and on trees and tree stumps, in all sorts of shapes and colours and sizes. They are quite spectacular, and somehow rather alien and a little sinister I think – probably because so many of them are very poisonous.
Same tree again. The tree has been split, and there's a great hole that's got protective wire mesh across
it, for safety reasons perhaps, or to stop people shoving rubbish in in it.
Personally I’ve got no intention of foraging (there’d be no going back if you get it wrong!), and I buy my mushrooms in the supermarket, or from the greengrocer, so I know they’re safe, but I do think it would be nice to know what these strange plants are. I've been using my photos to try and identify them, but I’m none the wiser than I was to start with!
I spotted this in the grass and leaves at the base of a hedge on the canal towpath.
I think, it's a shaggy ink cap.
Actually, I haven’t even got that right, because fungi are not plants, although that’s what I was led to believe when I was at school. In those days we were told that fungi were non-flowering plants but, apparently, modern science shows that the molecular structure of fungi is different to plants or animals, so they are now in a class of their own.
No idea what this is - the top is all folded, and looks a bit like gills - very odd!
As well as mushrooms, fungi include yeasts, mould that grows on rotting fruit and the infection that causes athlete's foot! According to the British Mycological Society fungi are used to make bread, cheese, wine, beer, soy sauce and Marmite. Fungi also help make coffee, flavour chocolate and put the bubbles in lemonade – but, sadly, the website doesn’t explain how these things are done.
These were growing in the cleft of quite a big tree, and there were masses and masses of them.
However, it does have lots of information about fungi – for example the bit which you see above the ground is known as a fruiting body, which produces spores, which are like seeds, but so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye. But below the ground there’s a much larger section (bit like an iceberg I guess) consisting of lots of fine threads that group together to form a branching network called a mycelium. And when conditions are right mycelium group together to form the fruiting body (I'm not a scientific sort of person, so I may have misunderstood this bit, but I think I’ve got that right).
And a close-up!
Fungi are good for the environment because they break down decaying plant and animal matter, producing food which is absorbed by the fine hair-like filaments.
I assume this is some kind of bracket fungus, on a dead tree stump.
I’d always been under the impression that fungi are very simple organisms, but from the little I've read this week they strike me as being very complex, especially their adaptability and the ways they reproduce. 
Same stump, but I think this a different kind of fungus - they look different at different stages of
 development, which adds to the problems of trying to identify them!
And I was surprised to discover that so many of them seem to be beneficial – even the ones which are inedible. Apparently, most plants have some kind of fungi living on their roots, and this is usually beneficial to plant and fungus.
And yet more fungi on the same stump - it was very big, but it was absolutely smothered in
fungi, as well as mosses and lichens.
Amazingly, they're used in all kinds of industrial processes, including the production of  pesticides, weedkillers and antibiotics (penicillin is a mould, after all, so I suppose I should have known this). 
These were growing all around the base - for such a small stump it supported an
incredible amount of life!

You'll find more Saturday Snapshots, and details on how to take part,  on Melinda's blog over at West Metro Mummy Reads.


  1. Wow! I feel like you've just provided a mini-lesson on fungi, clearing up some misconceptions for us. Fascinating.

    1. I felt a bit like that - all my life I've been seeing fungi all wrong!

  2. So many facts I didn't know! Thanks for sharing...and for the lovely pix of the beautiful, yet sinister fungi! And thanks for stopping by my blog.

    1. I didn't know anything about fungi at all Laurel-Rain, and I was really surprised at I what I found out!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you - it's only this autumn that I've really noticed them.

  4. I live in a very dry environ, so seldom see so many variety of fungi as you have here. Definitely none in the snow. Thanks for an interesting post, Christine. And also, maybe this should be a Weekend Snapshot so we can take it more leisurely. :)

    1. Arti, I think the weather conditions this year must have been absolutely right for fungi - they obviously like damp English autumns! I think a Weekend Snapshot, rather than just Saturday would be good, but don't know what other people would think.

  5. Beautiful pictures and very informative! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for visiting Julie. I've never really taken much interest in fungi before, but there are so many of them at the moment.

  6. Fascinating pictures! The variety of mushrooms and fungi is mind-staggering. Thanks for sharing your interesting photos and for visiting my blog.

    1. They are amazing Sandra, and there are a lot of different varieties within a fairly small area.

  7. I find mushrooms fascinating too. Such an interesting post.

    1. Louise, I'm glad someone else finds them fascinating!

  8. Such great photos and such great info too. Thanks for sharing these, Christine!


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