The annual fungus survey at Exbury Gardens was completed this week. Two groups, the Lymington Naturalists and the Hampshire Recording Group scoured the lawns and woodlands on two separate days and found a satisfying number of different fungi. This is such a complex subject that even the experts frequently disagree! But the sheer variety of colours, shapes, forms and sizes makes the subject fascinating to the most casual observer. One of the biggest problems with identification in the group is that an individual fungus can change so greatly in shape, size and colour as it matures that in some cases it's hard to believe it is the same species. Also, lot of fungi are "lbjs" (little brown jobs), so superficially similar to each other that even determining the group to which they belong can be difficult for the casual observer. Others are gratifyingly and interestingly different, and beautiful. It helps to have a microscope and a knowledgeable companion to begin to make some sense of it all.
One little orange fungus, called Scarlet Caterpillar Club (see photo), grows on a caterpillar sometimes remains of the host is found. Another grows on pine cones; others grow on other fungi. And lots grow on tree roots. Honey fungus leaps to mind, but most are not at all destructive.