Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria (Peziza) aurantia)
This grows on open ground in woods and is very common in autumn. It starts as very small cups, looking flat, but grows to 3-4" across. It is edible.
From August to November walking with the dogs in the woodlands takes on a new aspect. Silent figures in ones or twos may be observed, causing warning barks or excited approaches, depending on the character of the dogs. The objects of their interest walk quietly among the trees, eyes cast down, frequently stooping to gather something from the rich soil. Such persons may emerge suddenly from the cover of the woods, holding plastic bags weighed down with their booty. Occasionally, they carry shallow baskets. These folk are the mushroom seekers, the amateur but very knowledgeable mycologists, for at this time of year the earth gives up an abundance of toadstools. Though fungi grow throughout the year they are most noticeable in late summer and early autumn.
I think this is Brown Birch Boletus (Boletus scaber) - but I could be wrong!!
It is quite common in summer and autumn in woods around birch trees. The caps are edible and good to eat but the stalks are rather tough.
English people have little folklore about mushrooms and many of the tests to decide which ones are edible and which poisonous are not to be trusted. They may well grow in grass or not blacken a silver spoon but these are dangerously ill-informed methods for testing the toxicity or otherwise of them.
In Europe the knowledge is deeply ingrained, with France having perhaps the greatest interest and understanding. Until the Second World War Englishmen were very suspicious of wild mushrooms but learnt much from immigrant Poles and other Europeans who taught them that some toadstools can be delicious. Others, though edible, are so bland as to be not worth eating. The most prized fungi of all, the truffles, do not generally grow in UK, but when they do they are mostly found under beech trees. In France they usually grow under evergreen oaks. Specially trained pigs or dogs are used to sniff out the wondrous treats that develop underground, often at a depth of a foot or more. Since the war, interest in UK has grown to the extent that there is growing concern because mushrooms are very important in maintaining moisture in the soil and providing a source of water for trees. In times of extended periods of dry weather or drought such water caches are invaluable.
Just as scavenging birds and beasts keep our world largely free of decaying carcases so fungi perform a similarly significant service. Indeed, they have been described as ‘the great scavengers of the vegetable kingdom.’ (‘Wayside and Woodland Fungi’, W.P.K. Findlay D.Sc., F.I.Biol., F.I.W.Sc)
Trametes (formerly Coriolus) versicolor, commonly called Turkey Tail in USA
This is very common on fallen branches and trunks. It is a medicinal mushroom in China and used in China and Japan as an immunoadjuvant therapy in the treatment of cancer.
Together with bacteria they break down organic detritus - without them the world would be cluttered with dead trees, fallen branches and deep, deep leaf drifts. The enzymes they produce liquefy the wood of trees and the soft tissues of leaves and fruits to provide nourishment for the fungi. Anything that is not consumed forms rich humus on the forest floor and acts as a sponge to retain moisture. Some fungi are adapted to decomposing hoof and hair remains of animals.
Fungi are a source of food, drugs, poisons and diseases. They cause most of the serious plant ailments and some that are troublesome to man and animal, like ringworm. Every gardener who maintains a compost heap owes its success in part to moulds as well as bacteria and worms.
If you should feel inclined to eat wild fungi please don’t rely on identification through illustrations. Toxic and non-toxic mushrooms can look remarkably similar and a simple mistake can lead at best to several hours’ discomfort and at worst to an agonising death. Take advice from a knowledgeable mycologist and if in doubt, DON’T!
Thank you to the My World team for organising this meme.