Mushroom comes out from the dark at Harlow Carr

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Members of the Mid-Yorkshire Fungus Group have found a very rare mushroom at Harrogate’s RHS Garden Harlow Carr.

The extremely rare Smoky Domecap (Lyophyllum gangraenosum) has previously only been recorded three times in 50 years across the whole of Yorkshire.

And it was found during Harlow Carr’s recent two-day Autumn Food Festival celebrating the abundant produce of the season’s harvests.

It included a display of wild fungi by the Mid-Yorkshire Fungi Group and a series of guided fungus forays led by its experts, during which people were introduced to some of the more than 50 species growing wild at the RHS site.

Anne Bowers of the Mid-Yorkshire Fungus Group said: “Although some of us have been looking at and studying fungi for years, we have never seen this mushroom growing before, and we were delighted to find it on this occasion. It was a very successful weekend – and this discovery capped it.”

The abundance of colourful and exotic species included the Collared Earthstar and two species of Elfin Saddle, which, although inedible, are impressive to look at and were favourites with visitors.

The highlight for the mycologists (fungi experts) was the less visually appealing but scarcely seen, Smoky Domecap.

None had seen it before and there are only three previous records for the whole of Yorkshire. Like the more colourful species Smoky Domecap is inedible; when cut open the flesh initially colours blue but rapidly turns black.

Paul Cook, Curator, RHS Garden Harlow Carr, said: “I am delighted that the event unearthed such an exciting find, and that the garden is such a rich source of rare and diverse fungi.

“It’s an added bonus to all the plants we carefully cultivate and encourage to grow.”

The Mid-Yorkshire Fungi Group organises forays every weekend during the autumn to a wide range of sites within 30 miles of Leeds. Last weekend as well as holding guided forays, the Group used its display to explain aspects of the world of fungi to members of the public and identified visitors’ own mushroom specimens. www.myfg.org.uk.