The first myth of the day was dispelled with the revelation that people often use toadstool and mushroom interchangeably for the same types of fungi. The misplaced belief that toadstools are poisonous and mushrooms are edible was also put to rights during an interesting presentation that looked at different types of fungi found around Cumbria.
One of the best things about fungi in my opinion are the fantastic names – green elfcup, chicken of the woods, and dog stinkhorn, to name a few! They also make regular appearances in folklore, we’ve all seen pictures of fairies sat atop the distinctive red and white fly agaric, and would you dare to step in a fairy ring…?
After the presentation and a quick lunch we headed out to see what we could find among the grass of Eycott Hill Nature Reserve. I wasn’t optimistic at first, seeing nothing by a sea of grasses, but brightly coloured little jewels started appearing all over the nature reserve once we all started looking.
Once we got them back to the village hall for an identification session the rich colours became all the more apparent from the bright yellows of butter waxcap, to the appropriately titled crimson waxcap, and the stunning purple of a wood blewit.
The intensity of colour varied on different samples of the same fungi, making id tricky at times. For example our parrot waxcap only had a slight green sheen to the gills but ours neighbours was green over most of the cap. Other fungi appeared identical to the naked eye but on closer inspection had some subtle differences, the glutinous and butter waxcaps look the same but one has a sticky stem!