As the second in the series about lichen, fungi and moss, one of the other life forms that are found just about everywhere is the fungi. And when you live in a temperate climate where there are lots of forests, good rainfall and rich, fertile, soil, the fungi tend to thrive. I haven’t really started to explore, in earnest, this aspect of what grows underfoot around here, but have managed to compile a small selection from daily walks in the locality and ones that I’ve found in other places as well. I’m not even going to try to identify any of them.
Fungi are able to live just about anywhere around the world, especially where it’s damp, and can be some of the most fascinating and exotic of forest inhabitants, as well as some of the most deadly. Most people associate fungi with mushrooms, and that’s quite correct, but fungi also come in quite a number of other forms, as well as all shapes and sizes, from gigantic specimens to ones that are barely visible, if not invisible, to the eye (yeasts and moulds). And you can sometimes easily imagine how stories about ephemeral creatures (fairy tales) arose, as you see veritable high-rise apartments created by fungi.
Because we live in a timber rich area, every tree stump seems to become an instant habitat for various fungi and the following ones appear to replicate themselves just about everywhere. You can always find them clustered around old and/or rotting tree stumps. It’s as if there’s something special about tree stumps compared to other potential homes, and when observing where these fungi grow, that may very well be the case.
As for ones you wouldn’t eat? Well, I’d say every single one that I’ve shown, but especially any that are in anyway colourful, unless you want that trip of a lifetime (while it lasts). And I do wonder whether the holes found in some are the peckings of birds or some insect that can actually survive the hidden pleasures likely inside that purple cover. Or not. Whatever the fungi, as I’m not familiar with good or bad, I avoid all of them in the wild.
And I’d forgotten that we had one of these monsters growing in the yard earlier in the year. The big growth at the front was around 30cm at its widest. Again, I’m not sure what had been eating at the following super-sized meal and I don’t know how long it took to get to this size, as it was hidden away in an area that doesn’t get looked at very often. Surprisingly, it’s still there months later, though now in a rather sorry state of decay, possibly leaving spores to sprout another day.
Come summer, I might look at venturing into some of our rain forests to see if there are more interesting specimens around, compared to the somewhat staid fungi that inhabit our neighbourhood. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find fungi that look out of this world.