WHEN AND WHERE DO FUNGI GROW

Fungi mainly appear in the autumn months, however a plentiful supply of species grow beyond this period and may be seen all year round. Fungi in general need a good level of moisture to assist them in the production of fruit bodies, and this level needs to be sustained over a specific period dependant on the species (approximately 2 10 days), rather than one deluge of rain. Once the first fruit bodies appear growth is rather rapid with spores released almost upon the opening of the pores or gills.

Dependant on the weather conditions and environment some fruit bodies may last for weeks but some may be here and gone within a very short period due to frost, slug or animal attack or the species requirements. For example, birch polypores, a form of bracket fungus can remain on the stem of a silver birch for many years whereas members of the Russula family are almost instantly under slug attack from the moment they appear making it almost impossible for the collector to find a good specimen.

No matter what form they take, fungi grow in a wide range of areas provided the species requirements are present. Obviously woodland is the most prolific growing area for fungi due to its variety of plant life and abundance of decaying matter. Meadows and fields are good areas to search as well as coastal areas, roadside verges and your own back garden. Basically wherever there is dead and decaying matter as well as a wide range of plant life, fungi are likely to be found.

Each species of fungi requires its own growth habitat in order to succeed, for instance Jelly Babies (Leotia lubrica), Glistening Ink Cap (Coprinius micaceus) and Oyster Mushroom (Pluerotus ostreatus) all prefer deciduous woodland whereas Plums and Custard (Tricholomopsis rutilans), False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) and Slippery Jack (Suillus luteus) grow mainly in coniferous woodland and yet species such as Blackening Russula (Russula nigricans), The Blusher (Amanita rubescens) and Tawny Grisette (Amanita fulva) seemingly have no preference at all.

Some species are very strict on their growing conditions and specific requirements must be met. The Ugly Milk Cap (Lactarius turpis) requires not only a proliferation of birch trees under which to grow but also damp conditions as well. Jews Ear has a liking for elder trees and the Larch Bolete (Suillus grevillei) requires larch trees to be successful. So it is important to remember to aid identification a note must be made of the habitat where the fungi was found.

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