Happy UK Fungus Day 7 Oct – & Wonderous Waxcaps
From Waxcaps to Lichens, Yeast to Penicillin, Fungi give us so much! They are a vital component of our ecosystems – decomposing organic matter and much more.. Waxcaps are a delightful group to search for. UK Fungus Day is 7 October in 2023.
Waxcaps are a group of fungi that grow in old/ancient grassland – i.e. grassland that has not been ploughed recently or reseeded or had lots of fertilizer put on it.. They have thick waxy gills, either white or the colour of the cap. Often the caps are bright colours. Some churchyards have old grassland – and can have some waxcaps. One of the more special ones is “The Ballerina” seen here at Low Bentham Last year.
The Charity Plantlife is carrying out survey – they have produced an easy app so that you can enter your results. Here in North Yorkshire we used their survey last year and are continuing this year for a special survey of North and East Yorkshire. – In the workshop run NEYDEC Zoom for the Yorkshire survey the leader pointed out that the waxcaps do not necessarily grow on what is considered the riches grasslands floristically. It is important to know where rich waxcap sites are – so that care can be taken when choosing areas to plant – or not plant – trees. You can use their survey as an app on your phone or on your laptop.
It is fun looking for waxcaps. I hope I can encourage our “Eco-Explorer group – (for children aged 4-11 with their parents ) to join in the search.
Some people worry about poisonous fungi – The main thing is to wash your hands thoroughly after handling fungi. Only two waxcaps are classified as inedible /might make you ill. Whilst only one waxcap (the meadow waxcap) is big enough and easily recognisable enough to be classified as “edible and good” at least with the others you do not have to worry that they might be very poisonous. Though do take care – there are other very common fungi in the fields such as Dung Roundhead and the Earthy Powdercap (Cystoderma amianthinum) that are poisonous.