When going for a stroll in the reserve park of Bedfont Lakes, it’s well worth paying closer attention to the wood chip mulch on the path. Throughout the warmer months of the year, the mulch quickly becomes colonised by fungi. The pleated inkcups pictured below appeared in August last year just in front of the reserve gate.
As the weather was very mild, fungi were still growing as late as December. I’ve spent a good hour with Mushrooms by Roger Phillips trying to identify the following ones, to no avail.
No luck with these, growing on a fallen tree, either. Nothing in my guide seems to have such dark stems, although the little one on the right has a pale orange stem. Whatever they are, they have a certain charm to them. They remind me of bedside lamps with frilly shades.
If you look closely at some fallen trees in the park, you may spot a less elegant fungus that doesn’t even sport a cap, and in fact looks just like some purple goo – the purple jellydisc.
Greater London may not be a good place for mushroom picking, but when it comes to mushroom spotting it’s a different story. Fungi (mostly inedible ones) are everywhere there is dead wood, and some grow on living trees as well. They come in a multitude of shapes, some not even looking very much like mushrooms at all. They may be extremely hard to identify for an amateur, but it’s worth trying just to find out what they are and what role they have in the environment.