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Festival fungal fun

Matthew Chatfield
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For Christmas The Ranger was delighted to receive the Dorling Kindersley Fungi pocket guide. After reading about seeking out fungi with The Wildlife Gardener, he was keen to get another book to complement his existing dog-eared tome – her advice to get at least two different fungi books to consult seemed to be very sensible.

Magpie Inkcap (Coprinus picaceus) (c) Cat James

It’s a volume packed with information whilst still remaining pocket-sized. The test, of course, will be taking it into the wild and giving it a try – a report on that may follow. Meanwhile, over Christmas it has provided The Ranger with much amusement as a coffee-table book, with some remarkable quotes to read aloud for guaranteed interest. It seems that mycological authors share something with wine writers – a need to shed all inhibitions when it comes to adjectives:

Camembert Brittlegill “…the flesh has an acrid taste and sour, slightly fishy smell like ripe camembert cheese.” Stubble Rosegill “This fungus can smell radishy and tastes of cucumber.” Lactarius lilacinus “Dry and felty… when scratched, [the gills] bleed a scanty, watery milk”

But perhaps the most fun is to be had with the English names for these species. Unlike some groups, British fungi have fairly successfully been allocated English names, and it seems as though the mycologists took the chance to really enjoy themselves when they did. So much so, in fact, that the British Mycological Society have created a clever and entertaining game about fungal names – and here’s a copy of it. The link to the fantastic Fungi4schools website follows, but only after you’ve tried the game, so no looking at the answers! Below you’ll find a grid of names. Some are real fungi, some are made up. Your objective is to find all the real ones. As a hint, the real names form a slightly convoluted path from square to square from the top to the bottom.

Coffee Hump Earpick Fungus Dingy Twiglet Bubble Puff Hairy Stinkweed
Wasp Crabtree Turtle Truffle Plums and Custard Square Pole Waxy Sheep
Deadly Spider Silky Piggyback Turkey Tail Witches’ Butter Smooth Talon
Double Jewel Lemon Disco Flutter Devil Slimy Donkey Booty Mould
Mottled Fairy Frosty Funnel Lawyer’s Wig Drumstick Truffle Club Blueleg Brownie
Peacock Oyster Chalk and Cheese Rabbits Tail Mousepee Pinkgill Cherry Bonnet

Go on, have a go! How did you do? Let us know in the comments below! When you want to see the answers – and lots of other great fungi information – go here (pdf link); and there even more stuff well worth reading at the Fungi4schools website. It’s a real pleasure to see expert knowledge distilled down into something so very accessible, and shared freely. Well done the BMS.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

One thought on “Festival fungal fun

  • The Virtual Ranger

    Great fun! Although even dusty old Latin names for fungi raise a smile sometimes: cf. Phallus impudicus…


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