Nature on our doorsteps: Natural partnerships
The Fly Agaric is an attractive woodland mushroom, but it contains toxins that are dangerous to us

Nature on our doorsteps: Natural partnerships

Autumn is a good time to see mushrooms. After the warmth of last month and the rain that followed, they seem to be popping up everywhere in lawns, roadside verges, on rotting wood, and on woodland floors.

The mushroom caps that we see are only a very small part of the overall fungus growth.

The main part of the fungus is underground.

This is the white, thread-like growth of the mycelium which grows extensively through soil or rotting wood.

The purpose of the visible mushroom on the surface is to produce tiny, microscopic spores that drift away in the breeze.

These settle elsewhere and start new mushroom colonies.

Fungi are a vital link in nature. They are key recyclers, breaking down dead leaves and wood into their basic nutrients.

Shaggy Ink Cap mushrooms pop up in lawns and grass verges in autumn

These essential nutrients are returned to the soil where they are absorbed by growing plants.

Trees, in particular, return the favour to fungi by releasing sugars from their roots which the fungi need for their own growth.

In a partnership that benefits both sides, other nutrients and hormones are also exchanged between the trees and the fungi.

In natural, undisturbed woodlands, this beneficial partnership extends throughout the entire wood.

Over many generations, the fungi grow extensively through the woodland soils, connecting the trees together through this underground web.

This fungal connection acts as a ‘super-highway, where important nutrients are spread and shared between all of the trees.

This natural partnership is central to the health of the trees and the woodland soils.

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