Warmer, wetter UK weather sets off record year for mushrooms | Mushrooms

The UK is having a bumper year for mushrooms due to hot and humid weather, scientists say, with an increase in the number of rare and unusual species identified.

Members of the public have sent unusual samples of their gardens to experts at Kew Gardens and the Royal Horticultural Society after a glut of fungi this year, and scientists say such booms will become more frequent as Britain’s climate changes to become hotter and more humid.

Lee Davies, curator of the Kew fungarium, said: “This has been a particularly busy year for people who have seen mushrooms and sent them to us.

“If climate change means hotter, wetter summers, we will have fantastic years for some weird and wonderful mushrooms growing in the gardens of people like this.”

A particularly interesting fungus is the rare tooth crust from the orchard, and for the first time Kew received a good fresh sample.

“It’s a rare mushroom because it loves old traditional orchards, it loves fruit trees and these are quite rare these days,” Davies said.

“We had a lady who had a fungus growing on an apple tree in her garden. She sent us pictures and we thought that could be it. She sent us a track, and our mycologists confirmed that it is.

Scientists are taking samples of fungi from the public to sequence their DNA in hopes of finding new species and making discoveries about rare fungi. Davies encourages gardeners to post samples of unusual mushrooms in Kew so that their genomes can be studied.

“We’re going to do the DNA sequencing on it, so we have a good full genome sequence for this species, because it’s relatively rare and it’s unusual to have a nice fresh specimen. There is a big, funded effort to get all species of animals, plants and fungi in Britain sequenced, to understand the genomes of every living thing in Britain so that we know what things are, this allows us to study genomes and these organisms.

A shaggy inkcap mushroom at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire. Photograph: Samuel Booth / RHS

“We could make new drugs out of this or discover new species. Mushrooms are really good at this: you can collect 10 specimens of what you think are the same species, but you sequence the DNA and find out that you have several different species.

The Royal Horticultural Society has been inundated with public inquiries about strange mushrooms, up 76% from last year. The team at RHS Garden Bridgewater near Salford this year found a rare and protected multi-level dental fungus that is normally found in the south of England.

Jassy Drakulic, his mushroom expert, said climate change would mean interesting fungi would grow in different areas – but also warned gardeners could have more pests attacking their plants.

She explained, “The ranges of fungi will change, as will the trees and plants and the dead matter they produce, which will encourage different fungi to thrive in different areas, and the range of heat-loving fungi will be increased. .

“Some models of climate change that we have observed with macrofungi already in recent years include ear jelly (Little finger auricula judae), which previously only fruited on elderberry, but now appears on many different types of wood.

She also warned that some fungi that could damage other plants would be boosted by climate change. “We expect the dry summers in the south to make the honey fungus a bigger problem for gardeners, as plants stressed by drought are less able to defend themselves against root rot caused by Armillaria species.” , she said.

“Some mushrooms that only fruited in the fall, like the sulfur tuft, now also fruit in the spring, so some of these calendar changes don’t last just a few weeks, but entire seasons. It would then make sense for this to have impacts on other wild species that depend on these fungi for their food and habitats. “

The RHS showcases the weird fungi that grew on their Harlow Carr site and invites members of the public to come and see the different types, including the shaggy ink cap, bright red fly agarics and a spectacular orange rust crop.

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