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Come on a fungal foray at Kew

Christina Harrison
26 September 2011
Blog team: 

At this time of year there are some very special appearances in Kew Gardens. Why not come on a fungal foray to discover some weird and wonderful new friends.

Living not far from Kew Gardens and Richmond Park, I have to admit to being lucky, as I can easily escape from the busy streets of west London. One of the things I enjoy most when walking in these areas is coming across plants and fungi that I’ve never seen before. Last week I spotted a large zoned rosette fungus (Podoscypha multizonata) in the Park and have since learned there’s an even bigger one in Kew under an ash tree. I am determined to hunt it out. See Tim Entwisle's blog Talking Plants - there's a great picture of it there!

If, like me, you love to spot fungi why not take a look at our feature in the latest Kew magazine about the amazing range you can discover in Kew’s grounds. There is a vast array of colours, shapes and sizes and they are all intriguing. You can also read our fascinating interview with Kew's mycology expert Dr Brian Spooner, about how he became interested in this field.

 

Earthstar fungus at Kew


Record breaker

One Kew specimen, Rigidoporus ulmarius, now sadly thought lost, earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records in 1995 for being the largest fungal fruiting body on Earth (at 4.8 metres in circumference)! But fear not – around 2,750 other species have been spotted here, so you’ll definitely see some if you come along on your own fungal foray. You’re especially likely to spot fresh mushrooms a couple of days after a good rain shower, and by looking in mulched flowerbeds and in Kew’s Natural Areas at the southern end of the Gardens.

 

Rigidoporus ulmarius
 

Rigidoporus ulmarius was once the largest fruiting body on Earth!

 

The amazing fungarium

Kew’s work with fungi dates back many years and there is a ‘fungarium’ collection that houses 1.25 million specimens here. Britain has around 13,000 species of fungi (compared to 2,100 species of native flowering plants and ferns) but the overall total number is unknown. It is thought that 90 per cent are still yet to be discovered. A mind-boggling thought.

Kew also works with Natural England and with other organisations including the University of Aberystwyth on research projects. One aims to discover how many waxcap species exist in Britain, in order to determine how best to conserve them. 

  • You can find out much more by following the links on the Kew magazine page.
  • Please do not pick fungi from the wild – leave them to disperse their spores naturally and be appreciated by others.

 - Christina -
 


 

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