Do you know your Common Earth Ball from your Coral Tooth, your False Death Cap from your Candle Snuff, or your Shaggy Parasol from a Pig's Ear??!! I'd like to meet you if you do. The only person I know who can distinguish the multitude of fungi, algae and lichen around us is the esteemed ecologist, Joyce Pitt. Our group was lucky to spend a couple of hours in her company, prowling around Toys Hill Woods. Joyce is an ex-geography teacher and botanist, more recently engaged in the establishing of a number of areas of SSI and a walking encyclopaedia of Latin names.
Although Toys Hill has an abundance of autumn fungi we were a little early for the very best of the season, possibly because of the very dry September we had. However, signs of life were popping up from the leaf litter and once we got our eye in and distinguished fungi from fallen leaf, we managed to find a satisfying number of varieties. Many species looked very similar to our untrained eyes, but Joyce named every one, giving background info as to why they were there and to which trees they were attached to in a symbiotic relationship.