Author Kevin Lerwill
Our first Fungi Foray at Tilgate Park last week was a definite success and 17 people gathered on a bright sunny Sunday morning to see what fungi had fruited recently. After a couple of hours, Nick Aplin, from the Sussex Fungi Group, had identified 65 species, including Cortinarius purpurascens which was last recorded in West Sussex way back in 1926!
Nick also took a few specimens home for closer examination, so the total will increase slightly, but still a good haul for what has been a mildly disappointing "season" for fungi on the whole. Nick reckons that Tilgate Park is however, one of the best urban sites in West Sussex, because of all the clearance work that has been done here by staff and volunteers over the years and even the well trodden areas of the Park, such as the lawn by the lake, were host to a range of Fungi of all shapes and sizes, including the examples shown on this blog.
Apart from the weather, fungi face two main challenges in our green spaces and unfortunately, they are both caused by human intervention. The first is the widespread over-harvesting of the fruiting bodies, often by people who do not know what they are picking, in the hope of making a few quid at their local country pub/restaurant. This is not recommended for a variety of reasons, people have died horribly from eating the wrong ones, but also because it is not sustainable if the number of people doing it continues to increase. The second reason is our obsession with "tidiness". Any tree showing any sign of decay is cut down and cleared before you can say "honey fungus" instead of being left to feed a wide range of invertebrates and so the food chain is deprived of another source of nutrients. The message is clear...if the tree is not a public Health and Safety risk, then please leave it standing until it falls over of its own accord and if the tree does need to be cut down, please leave it in place on the ground, for other (smaller) fungi enthusiasts to enjoy it afterwards!