As autumn slides into view the third Kingdom shows its hand - of course I’m talking mycology or fungi or mushrooms if you will writes Paul Richens our Garden Manager..
My good friend Adrienne (who runs Cultivate London) found a real beauty over in Hanwell, West London - the Giant Leucopax, also know as the Giant Funnel (Leucopaxillus giganteus). My ID books say about this species; Edibility: Very good. Season: Autumn. Uncommon. Habitat: Gregarious, often in rings, in fields and meadows.
I love the idea that mushrooms can be gregarious although I’m more interested in seeing the meadows of Hanwell.
Fungi popped up again recently when we (Global Generation’s gardens team plus volunteers Emma and Otis) planted up some entrance troughs outside the new King’s Cross Waitrose cookery school and store. Julie designed a mix of plants that included Bee friendly flowers, herbs, Brassicas, soft fruit and three beautiful fruit trees - an apple, a pear and interestingly a ‘damson-like’ plum.
When planting fruit trees we always add, especially to those in containers, a dusting of mycorrizal fungi spores. This family of fungi makes a special (and equal) relationship with plant roots increasing their reach into the soil by up to eight times and receiving in return sugar and carbohydrates made in the plant’s leaves.
Remarkably every native tree has its own species of mycorrizal fungus and scientists are finding more and more of these special relationships. Still so much to learn – thank goodness!
Happy fungus foraying (but please check before eating any fungus)
Based on Paul's enthusiasm for mycorrizal fungi, Nicole Van den Eijnde and her partner Malcolm James wrote a children's story about it's wonders. Here's a downloadable version.