At this time of year it's possible to see many types of fungi at Dove Stone, such as the colourful (but poisonous!) Fly Agaric and the vibrant Amethyst Deciever.

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) Image by Ken Gartside

Separate from the animal and plant kingdoms, fungi serve important functions in the ecosystem. They are well known as decomposers (growing on and helping to rot down organic matter) but some species also have a symbiotic relationship with plants and trees helping each other grow. These are called mycorrhizal fungi and over the years many places in the UK have lost these important organisms in soils and substrate due to land management practices such as burning and draining and industrial pollution over the years.

At Dove Stone we have recently been working with fungi expert Jacob Whitson of Chaos Fungorum, who has been collecting the fruiting bodies of these mycorrhizal fungi (what we would see as mushrooms) to harvest the spores and create a mix that can be used to inoculate the soils at Dove Stone with the hope of healthier, natural growth of trees and plants.

A collection of mycorrhizal fungi collected on site (image James Minchin)

Letting fungi fruit is very important for the spread and reproduction of each species. Over picking and destroying mushrooms while visiting places like Dove Stone can have a detrimental effect, limiting their ability to reproduce.

So next time you see some of the fabulous fungi out there, enjoy, take a picture and let them grow!

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