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Elf-cups, waxcaps, morels, crusts, rusts and smuts '“ this witches' brew, together with the more '˜conventional' mushrooms, toadstools and puffballs featured in a fascinating talk, The Amazing World of Fungi, given by Ron McBeath at Berwich Wildlife Group's meeting last Wednesday.
Ron is a hugely experienced and engaging speaker.
With his own slides, using local examples – some of very rare species – he showed how both in their familiar forms, and also their modus operandi, the fungi we see and recognise are really just the tip of a morphological and life-history iceberg.
Amongst other wonders, we were shown species that appeared as glove-like growths on birch or hazel trees, glue fungi that stuck together the dead branches on which they fed – thereby preventing them from falling uselessly to the ground – and a club-like form that fed on an underground truffle.
Also – gruesome, but astonishing – there was a fungus that infects an insect (here a hover fly) and compels it to fly to a high vantage point, the higher the better to disperse its spores as the fly dies.
On a cheerier note, we were reminded of the vast number of species that recycle dead or decaying vegetable matter, or form a symbiosis with trees.
Our next talk will be on November 16, and is entitled Moorland Restoration: Does Peat Matter?
Our speaker is Simon Wright, who has extensive experience working with the National Trust in the Peak District.
The meeting starts at 7.30pm in the William Elder Building, Castlegate, Berwick-upon-Tweed.