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The world of fungi, a vast kingdom that spreads across the lands making connections and relationships with all sorts of flora and fauna. The only way to get to know your fungi is to go out and get a little bit dirty, which is exactly what we did. Dr Christian Taylor, a fungi expert who came to visit us took us out into the wood, and I can’t go into the wood in the same way again.

We set off into the wood and already we see some fungi hiding on the side of the track, a bit of dead log covered in jelly ear fungi, so realistically shaped as an ear and squishy. You can even cook with it if the appearance and texture doesn’t put you off. I have tried it in a tea, with turkey tail fungus, but the texture was strange. Would I try it again? Perhaps! We saw dead moll’s fingers which was weird to see and very well camouflaged (Image on right).

We also got told about how the mycelium works and how it connects with certain trees and plants. For example, the honey fungus will detect the weakest tree and attack it. The tree will die, then slowly rot down allowing loads of insects and mammals to use the tree for food and a home. The more we discovered the more we learned about how important fungi are for the world. This made me want to learn loads more and to really understand fungi. What helped was that Dr Taylor is really enthusiastic and it helped with the learning. He was keen to answer your questions and just enjoyed finding new fungi. He told us how the fungi will create barriers between each other if sharing the same tree, as they use the tree as food and exploit their nutrients. Even when the leaves have fallen off the fungi will create “green islands” where they make the leaf keep its nutrients by manipulating it so the fungi can still live.

The whole day was just overwhelming and exciting. We all left wanting to know more, wanting to go out and explore the place for more fungi. It was just a day that I won’t forget! It’s definitely something I would want to learn more about, how we can use them for medicine or food, and to learn what they can tell us about the land. Just from this walk, we saw so much, common puff balls, crested coral, turkey tail, many types of jelly fungus, the orange ping pong bat fungus and so much more. All these fantastic fungi were just outside our front door.

Taran Clark, Autumn 2022 trainee                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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