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Trooping Funnel

Trooping Funnel (Infundibulicybe geotropa)

Other names: monk’s head; giant funnel, rickstone funnel cap

When to see: September-December

This common mushroom, with a typical mushroom smell, is found in mixed woodland, often in clearings. They are often found standing in ‘troops’ (straight lines/ranks or arcs) or in rings.

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Porcelain Fungus

Porcelain fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)

Other names: slimy beech tuft, poached egg fungus

When to see: July-October


These delicate, semi-translucent white-ivory mushrooms are typically found on beech wood: dead trunks, fallen branches or dead branches on living beech trees. They are, therefore, saprophytes, i.e., obtaining their nourishment from dead or decaying organic matter.

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The Smallest Room

A very old joke…

– What’s the smallest room in the world?

– A mushroom!

But what is a mushroom?

Mushrooms are neither plants (kingdom Plantae) nor animals (kingdom Animalia). They are fungi. What we typically recognise as a mushroom is the fruiting body of certain types of fungus. Mushrooms “live on land, in the water, in the air, and even in and on plants and animals. They vary widely in size and form, from the microscopically small to the largest organisms on Earth (at several square miles large)” (Keating, 2017). However, we commonly recognise them when they form above ground (e.g., on soil, in leaf litter, within blankets of moss) or on their food source (e.g., fallen tree branches, trunks of living trees).

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Mushrooms in the Valley

WARNING: Unless you are 100% confident that you know what you are doing, NEVER EAT mushrooms – many are poisonous or, if not poisonous, can cause severe upset stomachs, etc. Look but don’t eat!

Animal, vegetable or mineral?

You’ve probably played it before. It’s often along the lines of ’20 Questions’, in which someone thinks of an item, an object, a person, and so on. Others then have 20 attempts to ask questions in order to determine the chosen thing – but they can only ask questions that can be answered with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. To narrow it down, early on someone will typically ask one of the three major category questions: ‘Is it an animal?’, ‘Is it a vegetable?’, ‘Is it a mineral?’ This seems to cover all the bases with regard to how we conceive of the world/universe – everything’s either an animal, a vegetable (presumably meaning a plant) or a mineral. This is fine for a parlour game but is everything actually an animal, a mineral or a plant?

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