Plantwatch: weather triggers magical season for exotic fungi

Paul Simons
Photograph: Hakan Soderholm/Alamy Stock Photo

This has been a magical season for fungi. The weather has been outstanding, with a wet early spring, warm summer and autumn drenched in rain.

And although fungi are not plants, most depend for mutual nourishment on plants and trees, which also had a good growing season. Even the recent drop in temperatures has helped to trigger the growth of mushrooms and toadstools, the fruiting bodies of fungi.

Related: Country diary: fruiting bodies of fungi burst from dead wood

There have also been some finds of exceptionally rare fungi. The fabulous exotic violet coral fungus looks like something from a tropical coral reef and was found on the Llyn peninsula, Gwynedd. “It’s the first time I’ve seen it in about 10 years,” said Trevor Dines of the plant charity Plantlife.

Another uncommon species was the devil’s fingers fungus found in the Malvern hills on the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border. This fungus looks like a sea creature with striking pink-purple “tentacles” covered in stinking goo. The stench attracts insects to the tentacles where the spores lie, and which are picked up and spread by the insects.

Devil’s fingers fungus, with ‘tentacles’ covered in stinking goo. Photograph: Ionescu Bogdan Cristian/Alamy Stock Photo

The fungus originally came from Australia and New Zealand and appeared in France in 1914, possibly carried in military equipment during the first world war; it was first discovered in England in 1946.