|Ancient fungus returns to Norfolk
The Norfolk Biodiversity Information Services, which collects and manages wildlife records for Norfolk, would like public help with finding records of a fungus once present in the county thousands of years ago and now thought be making a comeback.
The Hoof Fungus, Fomes fomentarius, which produces a perennial large, grey, hoof-shaped “bracket” up to 20cm across and about 15cm deep on birch trees has recently been found at several sites recently in Norfolk. A fossil of the fungus in the Natural History Gallery at Norwich Castle Museum from Shropham in Norfolk shows that the species was present over 100,000 years ago.
Biodiversity Information Officer, Martin Horlock said, “We are interested to plot the current distribution of this species in the county. It’s something that anyone can do, and will help us understand more about how wildlife is responding to changes in climate and land-use.”
NBIS is also seeking records of two other distinctive types of fungus –Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) and Red-lead Roundhead (Stropharia aurantiaca) in a bid to involve the public with biological recording. Fly Agaric is a very colourful fungus with a red cap which can be 15cm across, covered with white spots. Poisonous, and used in olden times to control fly populations by infusing pieces of the fungus in milk, it is widespread, found on heath and woodland, frequently near birch from September to November. The underground mycelium – or network of hair-like hyphae of Fly Agaric extends through the soil and connects with tree roots – usually birch – which supply the fungus with sugars. The tree receives minerals in exchange in a remarkable symbiosis or living together – in this case, to mutual advantage. NBIS is keen for public records of this fungus to include a note of the tree species found nearby, to find out if Fly Agaric associates with trees other than birch.
Red-lead Roundhead is a small distinctive orange fungus often found on woodchips in garden flowerbeds from September to November. This alien species, originally from Australia is thought to have been introduced. NBIS is interested in finding out how widespread this species is in the county.
The NBIS fungus survey, which was designed with help from the Norfolk County Recorder for fungi – Tony Leech – will run from October to November 2010.
Records can be sent to NBIS at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at NBIS, Room 301, County Hall, Norwich, NR1 2SG, and must contain the following information :
Species; date; place name; grid reference; nearest tree species; whether on wood-chips or not; whether forming a circle round a tree; your contact details.
For further information and to download a leaflet giving more information about the fungi, visit www.nbis.org.uk.
Notes for editors:
Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS) www.nbis.org.uk 01603 224458 collects and manages wildlife records. The centre operates on a not-for-profit basis providing information for those who are working for the conservation and enhancement of local biodiversity. Our database contains over one million species records. NBIS is always keen to receive additional records, particularly new sightings. Using Geographical Information System mapping, NBIS can help spot opportunities to enhance biodiversity – by joining up habitat fragments, for example.
Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is a distinctive and widespread fungus up to 15cm across with a red cap with white spots. The Fly Agaric is poisonous and can be fatal if eaten. Like many of the large toadstools its mycelium associates with tree roots, supplying the tree with fertilizing minerals and receiving sugars in exchange. Where to look: Heaths and woodland; usually near birch, September to November.
Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarius) is a tough bracket fungus, common in the north but scarce in central Britain. However, it has been found at several sites in Norfolk recently. Annual layers build up to produce a large, grey, hoof-shaped structure up to 20cm across and about 15cm deep. This fungus attacks and kills birch trees. Where to look: heaths. Present all year round. Only record Hoof Fungus if it has all of these features; growing on birch; hard like wood; grey on top (may have a powdery coating).
Red-lead Roundhead (Stropharia aurantiaca). A distinctive toadstool with a deep orange (vermillion) cap 1.5 – 6cm across (sticky in wet weather). Often growing in clusters. An alien species which may have been introduced. Also referred to in some guide books as Leratiomyces ceres. Where to look: mostly on woodchips, September to November. Only record Red-lead roundhead if it has all of these features: deep orange cap; grey-brown gills; slender white stem.
NBIS works closely with the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership which is working to conserve, enhance and restore Norfolk’s biological diversity. Read more at www.norfolkbiodiversity.org.
2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. The IYB website is www.biodiversityislife.net.
The main messages of the IYB are:
Humans are part of nature’s rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it
Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on
Human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate. These losses are irreversible, impoverish us all and damage the life support systems we rely on everyday. But we can prevent them.
2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. Let’s reflect on our achievements to safeguard biodiversity and focus on the urgency of our challenge for the future. Now is the time to act.
These messages are explained as follows:
“You are an integral part of nature; your fate is tightly linked with biodiversity, the huge variety of other animals and plants, the places they live and their surrounding environments, all over the world. You rely on this diversity of life to provide you with the food, fuel, medicine and other essentials you simply cannot live without. Yet this rich diversity is being lost at a greatly accelerated rate because of human activities. This impoverishes us all and weakens the ability of the living systems on which we depend, to resist growing threats such as climate change. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, and our people all over the world are working to safeguard this irreplaceable natural wealth and reduce biodiversity loss. This is vital for current and future human wellbeing. We need to do more. Now is the time to act.”