We had a bright day for our morning field meeting to collect specimens, less windy and warmer than it has been through this chilly spring, but very muddy underfoot, and we had a good turnout of 20 people. Northaw Great Wood, new to some of us, was also impressive.
Fungus Identification Group
We are a local fungi recording group affiliated to the British Mycological Society. We have about 30 members with a wide range of experience and skills, but who share a particular interest in fungi and foraying for fungi.
Some of us have microscopes and reference books to help with identification, some like to photograph fungi and others prefer to enjoy looking at, and sometimes putting a name to, fungi in the field.
Although some of us enjoy eating fungi, as a group this is not our focus. We are also mindful that our forays are often on private land, having obtained permission from the land owner. In these cases picking for eating is often not allowed.
We are always pleased to see newcomers. If you ever wanted an answer to the question "What are fungi?", you couldn't come to a better group. Why not come along to a foray and see what we do? We are happy to welcome new members at all levels of expertise, including children accompanied by an adult. (But if you want to bring a dog, you should check with the leader beforehand.)
Thinking About Eating Fungi? Heed This Warning
There are many types of fungi which can be eaten safely, but there are also some extremely poisonous species. There is NO simple method by which poisonous species can be distinguished from edible ones.
It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that unfamiliar fungus specimens should NOT be eaten, unless they have been identified carefully and with absolute certainty by a competent mycologist. Even with familiar species it is important to ensure material is fresh and in good condition if it is to be eaten.
I have just added some spring events to the calendar (bottom right). Members should have received details of these from our Treasurer, or via the newsgroup,
An interesting fungus we found at Heartwood is Clitocybe houghtonii (see photo by Claudi Soler). From above it looks like one of those fairly nondescript off-white Clitocybes, but it has pale pink gills and is supposed to smell of tomatoes - some of us could smell it, some couldn't. Apparently it is nationally uncommon, but turns up quite often in Herts.
We were very lucky with the weather on 23 September. The morning was warm and dry while we were foraying, and we were able to make it back into the village hall with our specimens and sandwiches before the rain started pounding dramatically on the roof of the hall. The woods were pleasant with some magnificent old sweet chestnut trees.. And thanks to the sharp eyes of the 14 of us, we found a surprising number of fungi, including lots of russulas (Russula atropurpurea - Purple Brittlegill - being particularly abundant) and boletes.
Our autumn programme is now on the website calendar,
Our autumn programme has been finalised, and has been sent out to members. If you are a member but have not yet received it, please contact Sandra Hayter. So far, only the first event (a workshop on 23 August) has been entered into the website calendar, but the other events will be loaded up shortly.
If you were tempted to think that a fungi foray was just a walk in the woods looking for mushrooms, you might be in for a surprise if you come along on one of our forays. From time to time we like to share the more in-depth side of fungi identification and recording; something that's more like a forensic investigation than a casual visual identification. Fungi species are incredibly diverse and often difficult to identify by a casual inspection alone, that's when we have to resort the looking at fungi at the microscopic level. On our foray to Great Grove Wood we had the opportunity to share this side of investigation with other members.
Ashridge was the ideal venue for this event: a SSSI site half in Bucks, half in Herts, a large expanse of mature mixed woodland with good grassland areas too, also a very popular destination for recreation having car parks and excellent facilities including a café and shop within the NT building complex where our display was to be held.