Inonotus hispidus

The shaggy bracket fungus on the ash tree at Fiveways, first reported by Clive Knight and identified for us by our Tree Officer Rich Murphy, has grown HUGE.

To really appreciate how big it has become, compare it with the ivy stem growing behind it.

[1] Taken on Aug 26th; [2] taken on Sept 2nd; [3] taken on Sept 16th

To a forester or an orchard keeper, shaggy bracket fungus is a dangerous pathogen busily infecting the tree’s heartwood, threatening the production of saleable timber or fruit. In a country park, on the verge of being declared a nature reserve, it is a welcome sign of biodiversity.

The ash tree’s rotting heartwood will house and feed the larvae of many species of wood-boring beetles and their tunnels will provide nesting holes for tiny wasps and bees. Long-beaked tree creepers will probe the tunnels for insects to eat and hungry woodpeckers will drill into the rotting wood in search of larvae. Larger holes will appear: homes and nesting sites for a whole new set of tenants.

[4] small scissor bees nest in the tunnels of wood boring beetles; [5] tree creeper photographed in the park by DKG; [6] green woodpecker and [7] blue tit photographed at nest holes by DKG.

The park is home to thousands of species of fungi; every cubic centimetre of soil will contain kilometres of hyphae, the thread-like structures of the mycelium, the hidden parts of fungi. Autumn is the time when many fungi produce their sometimes highly visible fruiting bodies. Keep a look out for them and send us pictures; we are not very good at identifying fungi but we will do our best.

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