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Festive Fungi

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The fungi kingdom is full of mysterious textures, smells, tastes and bright colours.

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green fungus growing across a log
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Mushrooms have the ability to appear as if from nowhere!

It's no surprise, then, that magical fungi names are commonplace. 

And it’s not just their enchanting names we can enjoy. Luckily for us, fungi gift-giving is not limited to the holiday period! All year-round, the environment and people benefit from the numerous ecosystem services fungi provide: decomposition, nutrient recycling and a delicious food source, too.

For now, to help you get into the holiday spirit, here are our favourite festive fungi names for you to enjoy.

Collared earthstar (Geastrum triplex)

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A grey, star-shaped fungus growing in-between dead leaves and pine cones

 

Like a fallen star from the long winter nights, this 7-10cm wide fruiting body has a very distinctive festive shape. However, you won’t be finding it decorating the top of a tree! If you want to find one of these, search on the forest floor and amongst leaf litter in deciduous woodlands.   Fun fact for a festive quiz: did you know there are 15 different earthstar species found in Britain?

Green elf cup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens)

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green fungus growing across a log
 iStock/ mirceax

Fit for decorating a festive fiesta, the green elf cup can be found on decaying wood and sits between 1mm-5mm wide. Despite their small size, these delicate fungi are easily identifiable as the colour green is very rare in the fungi kingdom! Keep your eye out for some beautiful turquoise-green stained deadwood, which can be found in every season.  

Scarlet elf cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca)

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Red fungus growing on dead leaves

 

If the green elf cup doesn’t match your festive décor, then the scarlet elf cup surely will! Look out for this eye-catching cup fungus on damp woodland floors between December and April. You may mistake this fungus for the ruby elf cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea) which is almost indistinguishable except for its tiny, microscopic hairs. 

Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor)

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Blue, grey and white striped fungus growing up a tree trunk
iStock/Alexei Vel

There’s no doubt about where this fan-shaped bracket fungus got its name! With its varying-coloured rings, this beautiful species has been used historically as a table-decorating centrepiece. You can find this fungus commonly growing on decaying wood, brightening up the winter woodland with its layered shelves.

Orange peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

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Cluster of orange fungus growing amongst dead leaves
iStock/ Robertson_

Have you been naughty or nice this year? You’d be forgiven for thinking that someone had already eaten the orange from your stocking! This fungal fruiting body begins its life cup-shaped, before deforming into a distorted cup, giving it a peel-like appearance. Although it can be found on decaying wood, this species is fond of disturbed soil too, so keep an eye out along woodland paths. 

Can you think of any more festive fungi?

Share them with us on social media and tag us @growwilduk.

Want some fascinating facts to impress over the holiday period?

Catch-up on our Grow Wild Live session with Mark Williams to learn all about the basics of fungi and fungi identification.

 

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