Thursday, 19 November 2015

Fungal Distribution

Now the cold is about to arrive from the north this could be a time to appraise features of the mildness of autumn so far, in particular, fungi which are partial to milder and damp conditions. Among the weirder justifications for a generally eccentric management approach has been the claim that you have to have sheep and their waste in plenty to induce waxcap mushrooms to flourish on grassland. This has always puzzled me but I have to admit that there are numerous voices in the conservation industry who seem to believe it; but then some people believe the full moon induces madness.

Now we all know that the reason SRWT manages the inby land by crowding it with sheep is because of farm subsidies and the friends it makes them among farming interests which dominate the national park. But when you ask them why a nature reserve should have all these sheep they will tell you it's because of waxcap mushrooms.

I know this is nonsense from personal experience: the grass in my garden has far more mushrooms, including more waxcaps per square metre than there are in the inby land. So it's clearly nothing at all to do with sheep.

No sheep have grazed in my garden for 31 years unless they jump a 6 foot high fence and come in at night then disappear before sunrise after cleaning up their defecation. And I would like to bet that previous owners of the property did not keep livestock as a hobby either. Churchyards are also livestock free zones but quite likely to have waxcap mushrooms.

There used to be even more waxcaps on my lawn before mosskiller was put down on a section of it - not my decision and much to my regret.

There is one waxcap on Blacka's inby land that has not so far appeared on my lawn, an attractive red one that I would make efforts to conserve if I had a say in management.

But seeing as it occurs in an area no bigger than 15 metres by 5, the idea that you have to keep the whole 85 acres dominated by sheep and cows and their defecatory habits and devoid of wild flowers  just for the sake of this one species is obviously absurd.

No comments: