Midlands' forests and fields are filled with mushrooms right now – tiny little orange ones (Stropharia), interesting plum coloured ones (Purple Stemmed Russula), groups of Glistening Ink Caps, hairy brown ones (Bluegum Woodcap) and big creamy ones (Parasol) too.  Fungi do not manufacture food like plants and animals do, instead they obtain nutrients from dead or living plant or animal matter. Many of those about at the moment are known as Saprophytes, which feed on dead plants, breaking down the wood they are growing on into simpler materials which return to the soil as minerals and humus. Mycelium – hair-like threads which are not visible - grow throughout the wood to obtain the nutrients they need. Their ecological role as decomposing agents is very important and their fruit bodies (the part we call mushrooms) are an essential component of the food web.  Some Fungi are parasitic, attacking living plants while others form symbiotic relationships with various plants and animals. 

Of the 10 000 different species only a few are really dangerously poisonous, however it is never wise to eat anything that you have not positively identified. Simply enjoy the display and leave them to get on with their work on the forest floor.

Click on any of the links below to see another Dargle wildflower