UK National Fungus Day

Bread in Morning Light

Sunday 13th October 2013

Some bread out of the oven cooling in the early morning sunshine.  The one in the front is in reality very small but because of the way the camera works it looks quite big. Thanks to the kefir and whatever yeast (fungus) we use we have bread and can make our own as human beings have been doing for a very long time now.

Fungi and bacteria work with the building blocks of the living world to create and destroy. The more we learn about how they work the more amazing they turn out to be. Maybe we should have a National Bacteria Day too?

Here are some of this autumn’s crop of fungi photographs, taken at Westonbirt, Glos and in the Forest of Dean, which is on the other side of the Severn Bridge, but on this side of the border with Wales. It is a good year for fungi in the UK, so have a go at seeing what you can see, or go to an organized walk or a talk, lots around ! This is the first UK Fungus Day and I think it is a great idea!

I have had a stab at identifying some of them but as ever warn people not to go by my identification as I am not a mycologist. I used to be quite reasonable at identifying about a dozen or so of the edible fungi, but as the years pass I have got out of practice. If you go on a fungi foray with a group or a self-styled forager be sure to ask them how they learnt their trade and ask lots of questions. In these straitened economic times, people turn to all sorts of ways to earn a living and foraging and ‘teaching’ foraging is one of them.

For most of us, wild fungi are not an essential part of our diet, but rather a treat, a flavour, an aroma, something maybe that one wouldn’t desire if not driven by media hype and an urge for different experiences.

I am not saying don’t or that it is wrong to want to taste and touch new things, just be extremely careful. There are cases of poisoning each year, usually well-documented in the press, of people who eat the wrong fungi, or the wrong berries or plants.

What is fun and completely safe however, is to go out and take photographs and look for them. We are sticking to that this year unless we see the ones that I know I can id positively.

And not to create any confusion, we didn’t bring any of the fungi depicted here home with us, only took their photos. Please do not ask me to identify your fungi finds!

larch Boletus Brian Kent

I am pretty sure this is the larch boletus, with its spongy underside.

Yellow Stagshorn Calocera viscosa

and I think this is Yellow Stagshorn( Calocera viscosa) – because it was growing on wood but it’s not one we see very often, it is very small and delicate but has this outstanding glowing colour.

autumn fungi

Haven’t looked this one up yet…

…and finally the most glamorous one we have seen this autumn which I think is a magpie inkcap but I haven’t found an image exactly like it so who knows?

magpie inkcap?

One of the hardest things is keeping the dogs out of the field of shot, as anything that interests us, interests them and we don’t want them to eat the fungi either!

Anyone want to tango with a wet poodle?

Anyone want to tango with a wet poodle?

So for those of you who miss him, here is your small friend Zeb, following an exciting jump into a mud bath on the edge of a small pool which contained a stick of desire that he had to have, (just had to).  We are taking him and his sister to the beach this coming week. I forsee many early evening baths.

31 thoughts on “UK National Fungus Day

  1. Ardys

    Well done to Brian on the gorgeous photos, and to you for the gorgeous bread! Great to read what you’ve been up to!

    1. Joanna Post author

      He has a swivel screen on his camera so he can hold it quite low and see what he is taking without having to lie down on the ground. I will show him your compliments :)

  2. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    They’re stunning photos! I’m too scared to eat found fungus – we had a case of poisoning here just a few months ago. I heard that in France, you can take any fungus to a pharmacist and they’ll identify it for you – don’t know if that’s still true. Happy National Fungus Day! :)

  3. Misky

    I love these photos. We had some puffballs under the laurel bush but Peder removed them before I could grab my camera. Hope you have a lovely visit with the dogs at the beach.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you! We have fungi under the trees in the garden as well but they are not as pretty as these ones :)

  4. heidiannie

    Your bread is so beautiful- I like the way you linked fungi and bacteria!
    Brian is really a great photographer- these pictures are magazine quality- especially those yellow stagshorn! Great idea to identify and photograph them rather than eat them- especially since you aren’t as sure as you once were about indentifying them. Thanks Jo- this is really an interesting and lovely post!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am glad you enjoyed it :) As a case in point the stagshorn looks very similar to some coral fungi and while I was looking through my books that was my first thought. This whole thing reminds me of bird watching as opposed to bird hunting, somehow calmer and less of a visceral – ‘can I consume it, own it, have it’ feeling – and more of a ‘ oh wow just look at that, I wonder what it is ?’ attitude. Each have their place and there is definitely a thrill in carrying home armfuls of edible fungi, but I haven’t done that for a while now xx

  5. drfugawe

    I share your fascination with both fungi and bacteria -and their interplay- as in bread and beer. And we too are experiencing a magnificent year for mushrooms in the forest – I ventured this past Friday out to my favorite chanterelle grounds, and returned with well over 5 gallons – and yesterday was spent watching football while enjoying pizza and soup made with the mushrooms. Quite delicious. I shall soon be adding them to a few loaves of bread as well.

    I love autumn.

    1. Joanna Post author

      The idea of five gallons of chanterelles makes me go a little weak at the knees Doc :) :) How amazing is that !

  6. narf77

    I love that you have a national fungi appreciation day. I adore fungi. I want to go back to university to learn how to be a mycologist I love them so much :). When you realise that most of the earth is populated with them, they decompose just about everything, they are part of the life cycles of just about everything you can start to get an idea about how important these little organisms are :). Love Zeb and check out that look in his eyes “exCUSE me…stop taking photos of something else and focus your energy on getting me back my stick!” ;)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I bet you have some amazing unique fungi on Tasmania that are not found anywhere else in the world too :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thankyou so much! We are having a fabulous time, warm sunshine, deserted beaches and small adventures !

  7. cityhippyfarmgirl

    fungus and bacteria…some of my favourite words.
    Lovely photos too, (although I couldn’t help but expect to see a little pointed red cap peering from behind one or two of them. You didn’t see any little people?

  8. Ann

    Lovely bread, lovely fungi, lovely photos. I have always found fungi fascinating (as are mosses and lichens etc) but would never dare to eat anything that I wasn’t absolutely certain was a mushroom!
    Super pic of dear Zeb – yes, I foresee many baths and sand everywhere!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thankyou, just got the wifi working where we are staying (though there is no phone signal) we have visited not one but two beaches today, the second was pebbly and had a stream coming down it, so was perfect for A) fishing for seaweed and B) washing legs – win win!!

  9. Jan

    Little people, my thoughts exactly. The last one in particular is so beautiful, it just needs a door and a tiny chimney pot. I wonder what the beautiful staghorn yellow is designed to attract – it’s so vivid. Zeb looks as though he is prepared to indulge your fungi fascination in return for fun!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you Jan :) Zeb and co don’t really care for fungi except if we are picking them then they must be of interest and they have been known to rip them up. I have no idea why the colour, it is such a tiny fungus, to give you an idea of scale, they are about the height of an old fashioned match stick.

  10. Sincerely, Emily

    HI HI HI HI HI. National Fungus day – love it. Brian’s photos are absolutely amazing. SO SO beautiful. I love all the colors out there in nature! We had some much needed rain yesterday and I was out checking rain gauges last night and saw that the west facing mound of composting horse manure is covered with mushrooms/toadstool… no idea what they are, but I need to get a photo.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you and lovely to hear from you sounding so full of beans (do you say that in the US, meaning bouncy, happy??) Glad to hear you have had rain and your home grown fungi sound very interesting!

  11. andreamynard

    The bread looks wonderful and great fungi pics. We’ve been finding an abundance of field mushrooms this year in Gloucestershire, across the fields from our home – but not confident enough at identifying more unusual types. I once visited a small town in Liguria, Italy in the Autumn and everyone seemed to be heading off to the woods and hills looking for fungi. i loved the fact that the local town hall had a fungi expert where you could take your mushrooms to be checked if in doubt.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hello Andrea and thank you for your kind words! How wonderful to find mushrooms so near home. It would be lovely to have an expert in every town hall that you could go to, or in the pharmacy – could be a career opportunity for some of these new foragers with good training. I wonder who these experts all are. I would love to be in Italy in the autumn for the mushrooms and the chestnuts too :)

  12. Karin Anderson

    Plenty of mushrooms in Acadia National Park, but you are not allowed to forage them (or take anything else out of the park, for that matter). Maybe I’ll be able to buy some chanterelles, when I’m visiting Hamburg this week.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Karin, I think we have similar rules here re nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest also, plus parks, rules about fruit as opposed to roots and whole plants are quite complicated and I think fungi are considered fruiting bodies and providing you don’t damage the mycelium you can take them if local rules do not preclude. One is supposed to ask the land owner for permission too. Foraging fever, fuelled by chefs in high end Michelin starred establishments is at quite a high here now. I kind of wish it wasn’t but that is the way of it. In my more cynical moments I think it will just impoverish the environment if too many people are out there taking wild foods to sell on, but that is just my private opinion.

      1. Karin Anderson

        No, you are definitely right, one should cut the mushrooms carefully and leave the mycelium in the ground. But many people just tear them out, though. I only wish one could cultivate chanterelles, since they are my favorite mushrooms.

        1. Joanna Post author

          I am very fond of them too Karin! Chanterelles are one of those ones which you either find lots of or none at all, I always look carefully in soft springy moss under pine trees but there aren’t too many pine woods near me. We saw even more wonderful fungi last week when we were out and about, it’s a good autumn for them here, warm and wet

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