Fungi of all shapes and sizes can be found on Lundy, from microscopic rusts on plant leaves, delicate toadstools in a kaleidoscope of colours, puffballs, spindles, and brackets, right up to the statuesque parasols that grace the plateau in summer.

Egghead Mottlegill © Mandy DeeOver 500 species have so far been recorded, with new species being found every year. The main season for fungi is from late summer through to late winter, but there are always a few to be found all year round. They are most abundant a few days after wet weather, and can become very scarce in prolonged dry spells, even in the middle of autumn.

Woodland species are found not only in the woods and copses, but also associated with the ‘forest’ of Creeping Willow that grows around Pondsbury. Dung fungi are well represented due to the large number of grazing animals, but the most interesting habitat on Lundy is the areas of unimproved grassland, particularly the Airfield, and the short-grazed turf areas on the east side of the plateau.

Scarlet waxcap © Mandy DeeThroughout the autumn, this grassland is dotted with the bright colours of the waxcaps, a group of fungi specific to such areas, and in decline across the country due to the fertilisation of grasslands for farming. They come in a wide range of colours including the reds of the Scarlet and Crimson Waxcaps, the yellows of the Golden and Butter Waxcaps, and also white, green, grey and even pink.

At least 23 species of waxcaps have been found on Lundy, which makes it an internationally important site. The SSSI which covers most of the top of the island means that fungi should not be picked, except by permitted individuals for the purposes of identification.

Golden Spindles © Mandy DeeIt is only in the last 15 years that much effort has been put in to recording fungi on the island, but regular surveys are now carried out each autumn, along with records added by enthusiastic visitors and island staff. Forays are run for visitors whenever an LFS expert is present on the island, and the  book, Lundy Fungi, by LFS members John Hedger and David George, will hopefully help more visitors become interested in this fascinating kingdom, and see more records added to the log book. There are several field guides available in the Tavern for anyone to use, plus more in the LFS library for members' use.

The definitive list of fungi found on Lundy, including species discovered since the publication of the book, can be viewed here. There are also lists of chromists and protists.

Text by Mandy Dee

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