Check out this fun-guy. Photo by Andrew Parkinson.
Working for a nature conservation charity has its perks, particularly the chance to learn about our natural environment from experts sitting just a few desks away. At lunchtime the other day, I attended a Fungi Forum presented by Chris Knowles, a trainee ecologist with RSPB Scotland. Chris specialises in fungi and has written a number of blogs over the course of the summer and it’s always interesting to discover more about the world of fungi and the many interesting varieties found on our reserves.
What surprised me most is just how ubiquitous fungi are in our daily lives- yet we never lay eyes on the vast majority. Most fungi exist as hyphae (collectively mycelium) in the soil under our feet. The mushrooms, moulds and other visible forms are called 'fruit' and represent just a fraction of the fungi out there. Mycologists estimate there are around 1.5 million types of fungi on the planet but have only recorded about 100,000 so far...there's a long way to go!
They provide us with life-saving medicine (penicillin), a food source (mushrooms, yeast for bread, mould for blue cheese), and a much needed service, rotting away billions of tonnes of plant material. Of course, not all are so helpful (athlete’s foot springs to mind) but lots provide us with a useful service.
Chicken of the woods, one of the more conspicuous (and delicious) varieties of fungi. Photo by Niall Benvie.
Get to know this unique kingdom by taking the fungi fact quiz below. Answers are presented at the bottom of the page. I’d love to know how you get on, leave a comment below or tell us on Twitter @RSPBScotland.
Fungi come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Crimson waxcap by David Osborn.
Happy to hear you enjoyed the blog. We will work on more fungi related blogs and keep you posted.
Really interesting. More blogs on fungi please!