Abney is home to many species of fungi, some quite rare and/or unsual in London. As an old woodland, there's lots of rotting wood, which is an important part of a healthy ecosystem, releasing nutrients back into the soil, making them available again. Playing their part in this process are a lot of fungal species that feed on wood, such as inkcaps.
It's not advisable to forage any ground fungi in Abney; there are some species that look like field mushrooms, but these are usually Yellow stainers (Agaricus xanthoderma) which are not edible. Even edible species are likely to be full of arsenic (from the Victorian embalmed bodies) and lead (from the Victorian lead lined coffins and the London car pollution) and should really carry a Government Health Warning as a result.
Abney is also home to slime moulds. Slime moulds are strange things. They have a feeding phase where they grow through whatever it is they feed in. Then they change. They move very slowly (you won’t see this happening if you stare at them), and develop spore producing structures, often in bright colours.
These and other fungi can create beautiful displays. See if you can spot the following on your walks through the cemetery:
Blushing rosette, Abortiporus biennis. A tiered series of narrow fan shaped growths that begin yellowish and redden with age while retaining a white edge for a long time. Growing on the ground on roots or on woodchips.
Orange Peel Fungus, Aleuria aurantia. A cup fungus growing on the ground and up to 10 cms across, but often smaller. Cups are bright orange, beginning tidy and becoming open, split and convoluted. Without stalks.
Jelly ear, Auriculara auricula-judae. The pink brown form of this is common, the black form seems unusual. These very flexible growths expand in the wet and contract in the dry, usually at the end or beginning of the year on dead elder wood.
Pluteus aurantiorugosus. This can be tiny or medium sized depending on the conditions. It grown on very wet rotten wood and is a brilliant orange that almost glows. The larger caps have radial wrinkling. The gills and steam are white. Growing in groups.
Yellow Brain Fungus, Tremella mesenterica. A startling bright yellow fungus that inflates in wet conditions. Colonies grow on dead wood. Found once on a grounded dead twig.
Thanks to Gina Rackley of abneyfungi.wordpress.com