UK Fungus Day 12th October 2014
Autumn brings the opportunity to see the fruiting bodies of Britain’s 12,000 fungi and I am looking forward to taking part in UK Fungus Day on 12th October. Organised by the British Mycological Society, the focus will be on enjoying the beauty and diversity of fungi found in abundance in our woods, pastures and hedges as well as hunting for edibles. I find fungi fascinating. From a work perspective, although we use mycorrhizal fungi additives to help establishment of trees, it is not really possible (or desirable) to transfer them from their natural environment to built landscapes to use as ornamentals. How I would love to be able to use majestic Parasol mushrooms in the meadows we create and of course what fun and culinary delight if only we were able to add Ceps and Chanterelles to our woodland plantings.
What makes fungi so interesting (and important)?
- Without fungi there would be no …. fertile soil, plant life, herbivores, carnivores and humans.
- The vast majority of plants and trees have a symbiotic relationship with fungi that grow on their roots
- Certain fungi are highly nutritious and are a major food for many soil animals and small mammals.
- Fungi are natural ‘waste disposal’ agents, breaking down dead plants and animals and releasing nutrients to be used by other organisms.
- Cultivated mushrooms are the most valuable horticultural crop sold in the UK.
- Fungi are hugely important in human food production, including yeast (think bread, beer, wine); soy sauce; some meat substitutes; ‘blue cheese’ and Camembert; chocolate flavouring; the acidity regulator citric acid.
- Anaerobic fungi enable herbivores to thrive on the plants they eat; without fungi – no meat, no milk, no wool, no leather.
- Many life-changing drugs including antibiotics and statins are produced from fungi.
‘Fungal forays’ will take place across the UK on or around the weekend of 11th-12th October – why not find one near you?
For more info see http://www.ukfungusday.co.uk/events
Written by James Scott, 2nd October 2014