Fungi are fascinating
They have been around for millions of years and are not plants or animals so have a kingdom of their own. Fungi come in all shapes, sizes and colours (and smells!) and can be found all over the world throughout the year living on wood, roots, soil, leaves, insects,dung and even on us! One of the largest, heaviest and oldest living things known on Earth is a fungus called Armillaria ostoyae in America .
Our woodland, grassland, mountains and coasts provide special habitats for over 12,000 species (2). Scotland is internationally important for the brightly coloured waxcap species which live on undisturbed grassland. Scottish woodland provide homes for fungi protected by UK biodiversity action plans including the Hazel Glove Fungus and a group of tooth fungi , while some species of puffball have only been recorded in Scotland (4).
Our wildlife needs them
Much of our wildlife depends on fungi. Fungi exchange food with plants to help them grow and tidy up fallen leaves and dead wood by decomposing and recycling them back into a healthier soil. Fungi provide food and shelter for wildlife including the small black beetle, slug and red squirrel.
We need them
We also depend on fungi as they help produce many of our everyday foods including bread, cakes, biscuits and beer, and also our medicines including antibiotics and cholesterol busting statins. Paper and dyes can also be made from fungi. Some fungi are tasty to eat, but others are poisonous, so always check with an expert and follow The Scottish Wild Mushroom Code (Polish/Polski version ).
What we're doing
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) helped to protect fungi by including them in the Species Action Framework and by the protection given to designated sites for fungi and their habitats.
What you can do
The main threats to fungi are habitat loss, high concentrations of nutrients and soil disturbance. You can help by creating a home for fungi in your garden such as a compost heap, as fungi love damp shady spaces. Old mossy lawns that haven't been fertilised will reward you with colourful grassland fungi and leaving large pieces of deadwood in your local woodland will support many species of wood rotting fungi .
Find out more...
For more advice and information about fungi in Scotland, visit the Scottish Fungi website. This site provides a hub of information about all aspects of fungi such as identification, events, recording, eating fungi and research.
Last updated on Wednesday 2nd July 2014 at 09:30 AM. Click here to comment on this page