Autumn is the best time for spotting an amazing variety of fungi in Kew's Arboretum
Fungi are fascinating and extremely varied in their colour, shape and structure. Most people's image of fungi is of the classic mushroom or toadstool, but there are many thousands of species and they come in a wide variety of intriguing forms. What you see above ground is actually just the fruiting body - produced to release spores. Fungi are not plants and do not have chlorophyll – the green pigment which enables most plants to manufacture their food using sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. Fungi rely on the living (if they are parasitic) and decaying (if they're saprophytic) tissues of plants and animals for their nutrients.
Once mature, the fruiting bodies produce millions of microscopic spores. A classic example of this can be seen in the puffballs, which when knocked by wind or rain, eject clouds of spores.
At the moment there is an amazing variety of fungi to be seen in Kew's Arboretum. Below are just a few examples of what you might encounter on even a short walk with a keen eye.
Beautiful honey coloured sulphur caps on decaying wood. Their colour becomes a
darker orange towards the centre.
Puffballs, ready to eject millions of spores once mature.
Very pretty looking shaggy parasol mushrooms under a pine tree,
distinguished from normal parasol mushrooms by their smooth stalks.
A group of edible horse mushrooms. These can grow to an
impressive size with caps up to 20 cm across.
Two similar looking, but different, bracket fungi. Above is Ganoderma
with it's brown spores...
. . .while Perenniporia (above) has white spores.
The young, spongy, yellow fruiting body of the Dyer's mazegill, usually
found on conifers, turns brown as it matures.
This fascinating looking fungus, initially looks like a hyacinth bulb before
splitting into these radiating arms, which resemble a star. Earth stars
are another fungus which eject their spores.
Finally, the ink cap. This one gets it's name from the fact that as the
spores mature they turn black and liquify.
So, why not come on a fungus foray of your own this autumn at Kew? There's plenty to see, and looking for these beautiful structures reveals plenty of other autumn delights around the Gardens too.
Remember - please don't pick fungi in the wild - leave them to disperse their spores and play their part in their natural habitat.
For more information
- What's On this autumn at Kew
- Kew's Arboretum
- Watch a short film about Kew's fungarium
- Search our plant and fungi profiles
The Arboretum team blog includes stories about individual plants growing at Kew, information about the growing techniques that we use, and reports on our field trips to see woody plants growing in their natural habitats. You can also find out how we look after Kew's renowned world plant collections.
- capacity building
- wet tropics
- focus families
- useful plants
- seed banking
- around the world
- South East Asia
- at risk
- new species
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