'Fairytale' mushrooms spring up earlyThey're encouraged by the wet summer

08 August 2007

Unusual shiny mushrooms are emerging from the ground four months early because of the wet summer, it has been revealed.

The autumnal weather has encouraged waxcaps, or Hygrocybe, to pop up in the Welsh countryside.

There are about 50 species, most of which have colourful caps that would not look out of place in a fairy tale.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales, in Carmarthenshire, has meadows with more than 20 types of the fungi, growing up to 7cms in diameter.

Flourishing fungi

They prefer sheep-grazed meadows which have not been ploughed or fertilised, Tim Bevan, an organic farmer and the garden's estate manager, said.

'They don't do that well when they are waterlogged, but they do like it damp and warm,' he said.

'Our main worry now is whether or not the waxcaps will come back when autumn starts.'

Only one variety - the meadow waxcap - is edible and even that is 'pretty bland', Mr Bevan said.

The garden has been given £10,000 by the Countryside Council for Wales Species Challenge Fund to help visitors identify and conserve waxcaps. It is also bringing in an expert to identify and survey the fungi.

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