Come and be part of a global voice for wild plants and fungi
This autumn, help us find the Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
Make a positive impact in protecting remarkable lichens.
Go the extra mile and run wild for Plantlife
Become a Plantlife member today and together we will rebuild a world rich in plants and fungi
Reverse the red
February is Reverse the Red’s Fungi month as well as St Valentines day.
Join Senior Ecologist Sarah Shuttleworth for a deadwood date, as she shares what gets fungi swiping right on the wood wide web.
Elfcups are red
Roundheads are blue
Fungi and plants,
Share a connection? it’s true…
Although February might not be a month you associate with fungi, the organisms are still there under the surface – it’s just the fruiting bodies like mushrooms and toadstools we tend to see in autumn.
It’s under the surface where a large proportion of fungi are directly connected to other plants roots via the fungi’s mycelial network, root-like structure made of branching, thread like hyphae.
On February the 14th whilst we humans are celebrating deep connections with loved ones, plants and fungi are exchanging resources through their own deep connections. Virtually all plants on earth form these relationships, with only about 5-10% of plants not relying on these fungal friendships.
Mycorrhizal is the name we give the type of fungi that can tap into the root cells of plants. The fungus gets its energy requirements and carbon from the plant, and the plant gets nitrogen, phosphorus and zinc from the fungi, as well as improved access to water.
This network of fungi mycelium and plant/tree roots is often affectionately referred to as the ‘Wood Wide Web’.
The infamous, bright red toadstool Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria has mycorrhizal relationships with birch trees, pines and spruces, so they are mostly found near some of these species.
Although you are unlikely to find any Fly Agaric toadstools at this time of year, if you look hard enough there are still some fungi species with visible fruiting bodies….
Velvet Shank Flammulina velutipes can still be spotted growing on stumps and trunks of dead hardwood trees, particularly Ash, Beech and Oak. They have caramel to orange-coloured caps and grow in overlapping tiers.
Jelly Ear Auricularia auricula is another one you can spot, looking almost exactly like ears made of jelly on dead or dying wood, particularly Elder trees.
Fungi are vital to life on earth as well as providing an entire kingdom of wonder and magic. We still don’t know 90% of the fungi species estimated to be present on the planet. From the species we do know about we benefit from them in so many ways – from nutrient recycling, edibility, making food products, medicines, manufacturing, biomaterials as well as natural wonder.
We are already starting to lose known species, with approximately 400 UK species Under Threat on the IUCN Red Data List. Globally we are risking losing species we don’t even know about yet, with all their potential uses and beauty lost forever.
Scarlet Elfcup Sarcoscypha austriaca is one of the most striking species being bright valentine-heart red and is one you can find out and about now.
Spotting these bright red pixie-like cups on the woodland floor amongst mosses and twigs, is certain to fill most hearts with as much joy as a dozen red roses surely?
Hazel Gloves Fungus is a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, learn more about this rainforest fungi this Reverse the Red month.
Britain’s waxcap grasslands are considered to be the best in Europe. Discover the pressures these colourful fungi and their habitats face…
Fungi are one of our most fascinating creations, and best of all, they are right under our noses – perfect for children to spot.
We will keep you updated by email about our work, news, campaigning, appeals and ways to get involved. We will never share your details and you can opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Notice.