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Autumn Fungi & First Frost

18/10/2007

Autumn is mushroom and first frost time. Nature's Calendar features the poisonous Fly Agaric the memorable Stink horn and first frost.

Mushrooms belong to the group Fungi. Well over 125,000 species of fungi are know from around the world. Ireland has over 3500 different fungi spread through all the habitats, from woodlands (mushroom growths and mould), to grassland (again as mushroom growths and mould) to the cheese left too long in the fridge (as mould) or the opened pot of jam (as mould).
Fungi are poisonous or edible and form a mutualistic relationships with plants and animals.
Fungi are key Decomposers in our Habitats
Fungi are key members of many habitats as they are important decomposers, they play the role of rubbish disposal experts in, for example, woodland habitats. There are several tons of fungi in a hectare of forest. In autumn they feed on the riches of the previous spring and summer months, decomposing dead leaves, berries, fallen branches, dead birds and other animals.
First Frost
First frost was a common occurrence in Ireland towards the end of September, up to about 10 years ago. Slowly it is arriving later and later. This year most parts of the country did not experience their first frost until the third week of November.
First frost is easy to identify on lawns and the windows of cars.
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Keep an eye out for the Stinkhorn fungus and Fly Agaric and enter your sightings into the Nature's Calendar map click on the Nature's Calendar tab at the top of the page and click on Submit your sighting - there you will find Autumn Watch.
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They sometimes have complex mutualistic relationships with insects and even mammals. Two of the best studied of these are a fungi that lives on mole droppings in Japan and the stinkhorn fungi in Irish woods.
Check out the Stinkhorn article to read about this amazing relationship.