Rare Fungus Discovered On St Agnes

Red cage fungus. Photo by Bob Dawson.

Red cage fungus. Photo by Bob Dawson.

A rare and unusual fungus has appeared on St Agnes.

Wildlife expert Bob Dawson has checked with the Environmental Record Centre for Cornwall and Scilly and the red cage fungus was last recorded in Scilly in 2009 and 2011, but hasn’t been seen since.

Visitor Andrew Merike discovered the unusual organism at Barnaby Lane. One has also been seen alongside the road between the lighthouse and the Island Hall.

Bob doesn’t know why they’ve just appeared again and they they might have always been there, staying unseen beneath the surface.

The growth could have been encouraged by the recent weather conditions, he says, or the road surfacing that’s taken place might have spread spores.

Bob says if you stumble across the fungus you’ll notice it because its appearance is so bizarre, looking like a sort of “red basket on the floor.”

He says most of the fungus is underground, living on rotting wood, but then it puts up an elaborate, lattice-like structure.

It also has an odd aroma of rotting meat, which is thought to attract flies that take the spores away on their feet.

The fungus is native to Southern Europe but is also seen in parts of the Westcountry and it’s very unusual.

Bob says there are around 140 records in total from 100 sites across the UK.