Fungi on the Findhorn Hinterland

As part of our work to identify the biodiversity of the Findhorn Hinterland area we commissioned Liz Holden, Scotland’s leading mycologist, to carry out a survey of the fungi that are present on the site. She spent two days on the Hinterland in 2020, at the beginning of September and in mid-October, and then returned again with members of the Scottish Fungal Foray group, led by Cameron Diekonigin, for another day in September 2021. That group visit had been planned for 2020 but had to be postponed because of Covid-related lockdown restrictions that were in force at the time. I accompanied Liz on all three days, and have also been sending her fungal specimens from the Hinterland for identification for the past three years. As a result of this, we now have 216 species of fungi recorded here, including some interesting and unusual ones.

Amongst those of particular note is the sandy earthtongue fungus (Sabuloglossum arenarium), for which there are only a handful of records in Scotland. As its name implies it grows in sand dunes, and is thought to have an association with another fungus, the moor club fungus (Clavaria argillacea), so we were very pleased to find the two species fruiting together on the dune area of the Hinterland in October 2020. Another rare species that exists on our site is the rust fungus (Pucciniastrum goodyerae), which only occurs on creeping lady’s tresses orchids (Goodyera repens). This had previously been recorded on the Hinterland by Heather Paul, our local lichen specialist, and this is one of just a few sites in Scotland (all in the northeast) where it has been recorded.

Fungi come in a wide variety of shapes and forms, not just the typical ‘mushroom shape’ that is familiar from culinary mushrooms and children’s story books. They are the fruiting bodies of each fungal species, with the main part of the fungus being a fine network of thread-like structures in the soil. Those are called hyphae, and the network they form is known as a mycelium. The mycelial networks wrap around the roots of trees and other plants, and an exchange of nutrients take place, whereby the fungi (which have no chlorophyll and therefore cannot photosynthesise by themselves) receive carbohydrates and sugars from the trees and plants, while they pass on minerals and other nutrients from the soil in return. This mycorrhizal relationship, as it is known, is fundamental and crucial to the health of forests and many other terrestrial ecosystems. Other fungi are saprotrophic, meaning that they play an essential role in the decomposition and recycling of organic material – without them all woodlands would soon be overflowing with dead plant matter. The photographs here show some of the diversity of fungi we’ve found so far on the Hinterland. 


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Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC045806
228 Pineridge, Findhorn, Forres, Moray IV36 3TB