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Foray into the world of fungi

Christina Harrison
5 November 2010
Blog team: 
This week Kew magazine editor Christina Harrison has been mainly...looking at fungi!

Yes, I'm proud to admit I'm now slightly obsessed with mushrooms, toadstools and all things fungi. All life depends upon them so I think we should ALL be interested in these amazing organisms.

We've commissioned our photographer to go out hunting with Kew's mycology experts for a feature for Kew magazine's next autumn issue, and I haven't been able to resist going on my own fungal forays too. The enormous range of sizes, shapes and colours is thrilling, and when I found some pristine bracket fungi the size of dinner plates in Richmond Park at the weekend I almost jumped for joy! (almost).


Fungi at Kew Gardens (Image: Paul Little)

Beautiful but...

Unfortunately I'm hopeless at putting a name to any of these species and therein hangs the warning. There have been plenty of stories on the television recently warning people against the advice of celebrity chefs to get out there and forage. Not only do you have little chance of finding something edible (only about one per cent of the UK's fungi are worth eating), but you are taking away key elements of a natural habitat if you pick them. There is also the fact that the amount of incidents of people being poisoned by picking wild  mushrooms has apparently doubled in the last year.

So, unless you're on a guided fungal foray with a true expert, leave the fungi where they are – they are a joy for fungi-spotters such as me and vital for the insects and animals that need them, not to mention the fact that the future of the fungi itself depends on its spores being released from these truly wonderful fruiting bodies.

We'll be looking at fungi at Kew in next autumn's issue of Kew magazine – I hope you enjoy these 'taster' pics. Kew Gardens and Wakehurst run fascinating fungal forays each autumn – make a note to book early for next year as places are limited.

Have you spotted any intriguing fungi this year?

- Christina -


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