Autumn is mushroom season, which for me means rainy forays into the woods. The appeal of fungi is difficult to explain. Perhaps it is the temporary appearance of these life-forms, or maybe the strange appearances they have. Or just the thrill of the hunt. In any case, a day in the woods is rarely spent poorly.
Last Saturday I went to Store Hareskov, which is a large forest near the Furesø in Zealand. The land is managed for timber, so not ideal hunting – better to be in a more diverse forest, or one that has recently burned. Many fungi rely on mutualisms with plants, or do well with the decaying wood found in the aftermath of a fire or in a very mature forest.
Here are some gilled fungi growing out of a cut log. The entire structure you see is a fruiting body, and is only a small part of the total mass of the organism – yet certainly, the most charismatic and ephemeral part.
The gills are a reproductive structure – small spores drop out from between the gills and are dispersed widely by the wind.
Other species take different strategies – this is a puffball, which stores its spores on the inside until dramatically exploding all by itself or when trampled by a passing animal. This one has some parasite eating through it. Many species of puffballs are edible when young but I’m not sure about this one!
Fungi are well-liked by many other species too, as you can see here. Fortunately for the fungi, much spore dispersal occurs immediately after the cap separates from the veil and before any nibbling occurs.
Not always a success – here is a well-fed slug (Arion rufus?), enjoying the fall crop.
On this day there was nothing edible to be found – the downsides of hunting in such a developed and well-trafficked area. It is difficult to find any truly wild places here. Still there are many small joys to be found in days like these!