Today is UK Fungus Day: a celebration of the wonders of fungi. All over the UK, museums, Wildlife Trusts, National Trust sites and botanical gardens are marking the occasion with mushroom identification walks, exhibitions, mass mushroom log cultivations, and numerous other activities. Use this postcode checker to find events near you.
What makes fungi so special? While you may think of them as a pizza topping (and some may take more psychaedelic view), there’s a lot more to mushrooms than snacks and partying. Without fungi, life on earth wouldn’t exist.
Here are a few of my favourite fungi facts.
- Fungi communicate with each other – and help trees connect too, through the ‘wood wide web‘. We are only in the early days of researching fungi communication and there could be a lot more to be learned…
- You can make beautiful spore prints by putting a drop of water on a mushroom cap (after removing the stem) then placing it on paper, under a cup, and leaving it for up to 24 hours to release the spores. Make your spore print last longer by spraying it with hairspray (from a distance to avoid smudging the print.) You can also use spore prints to cultivate mushrooms though it takes a little more work.
- You can use coffee grounds or shredded cardboard as a growing medium for mushrooms. They also love dead wood, so scatter logs around your garden, particularly in damp areas, to encourage fungi growth.
- Yeast is a type of fungi – so make some bread for a simple (tasty) way to celebrate UK Fungus Day.
- Mushroom bricks made from the mycelium are stronger than concrete, and the material can be used to create ‘virtually anything’.
- Mushroom burial suits offer a more eco-friendly option than traditional burial.
NB: Unless you’ve had training, and are certain of what you’re picking, it’s extremely inadvisible to pick and eat fungi. Even if you think you recognise a species, tiny variations, such as the colour the stem stains after bruising can be the difference between edible and toxic fungi. If in doubt, don’t.