Fungi and the Wood Wide Web
Sunday 17th November 2019
Ten families met at the Holly Lodge Centre on the morning of November 17th to discover more about fungi and the ‘Underground Internet’. We thank Janet Bostock for leading a most enjoyable and information-packed event, and also the Holly Lodge Centre for a wonderful venue.
We learnt that what we see above ground is only the fruit of the fungus. Beneath the earth lie extensive root systems, mycorrhizal networks, allowing plants, including trees, to communicate and exchange essential nutrients. Demonstrating this with balls of wool was fun! We then explored the HLC Nature Trail looking for fungi in what has been a bumper year for these fascinating and vitally important organisms.
Finally – an important message – dry wood is dead wood! We all dismantled a den, as Janet demonstrated the importance of leaving fallen wood on the ground, so that it stays damp and can support life.
You can see some pictures taken at this event below.
What are Fungi?
Fungi are Nature’s recyclers and Autumn is the season when they are at their best!
Richmond Park’s most ancient trees are home to some rare fungi and over 400 species in all. They are a crucial part of the Park’s ecology and an essential source of food and habitat for some animals and insects. This is why they should be left undisturbed and not removed from the Park.
Did you know?
- A honey fungus in the USA is the world’s largest organism. It covers 3½ square miles (that’s about 9 square km.) and is thousands of years old
- There are over 1½ million species of fungus
- Some are important in medicine e.g. in the production of antibiotics
- A fungus is an essential ingredient in bread and beer-making
Fungi have some amazing names
- Chicken of the Woods
- Beefsteak fungus
- Jelly ear
- Yellow Brain
- King Alfred’s cakes
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