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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 matchmaking

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….

Will fungi be your Valentine?

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.

 

Make it official with fungi this Valentines day….

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?

Learn more about fungi

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