Thursday, August 23, 2012

Which fungus IS that?

Turkeytail? Giant Polypore? Hairy Curtain Crust? Smokey Bracket?

Part of the winter maintenance program at Magic Garden has involved the removal of some scarily, large dead branches from some of our scarily, large trees. I'm pleased to say that I was not the person up the tree, chain saw in hand! As you can see, fungus has played a major role in the die back of this limb and according to our tree man, the tree this particular branch came from needs to be removed completely. In truth, it isn't the most majestic specimen (I feel like I'm betraying the tree by saying that!) and whilst its removal will be costly, we'll certainly gain more sun penetration in that patch of Magic Garden. 

The role of fungi in the eco-system is fundamental in the decomposition of organic matter. They're present in soil, dead matter and in symbiotic relationships with plants, animals and interestingly, other fungi. Along with yeasts and moulds and the more obvious mushrooms, Fungi are considered a kingdom within  the taxonomic structure of biology because unlike from plants, animals and bacteria, their cellular walls contain chitin rather than cellulose and this is about where the very helpful Wikipedia page lost me, to be honest! What I have learnt is when it comes to trees, it's parasitic fungi you have to watch out for, that trees which are under stress due to bark injury, broken branches or drought are more susceptible to parasitic fungi...and that identification of fungus is a job left to the professionals! 

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