Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Brick cap mushrooms display autumn colours

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Brick cap mushrooms display autumn colours

Brick cap mushrooms. Picture: Nuala Madigan

Autumn is a time of colour in our communities. While most fungi are pale cream to brown in colour, a group of fungi known as the brick cap mushrooms (beacán caipín bríce as Gaeilge) certainly provide us with some of the typical autumn colours as their caps are orange-red in hue.

While I am only presuming, those that named this mushroom could have related the colour of the mushroom cap to bricks used for building at the time. Alternativel, the name and the colour of bricks could be completely unrelated to this mushrooms name as well — it is just a thought!

These fungi can be found growing on rotting wood in woodlands and even in our local parks on the stumps of felled trees or hedgerows.

It is not considered a common species, but I did came across it in a local park.

That is one of the reasons why I think exploring our local areas at different times of the year can often bring surprising wildlife finds.

One charasteristic of this fungi is it grows in clusters, with each cap ranging in size from 3-10cm in diameter, and each held on a 4-12cm stem approximately 1-2cm in diameter.

The caps are convex is shape — that is, curved outwards — and the rim is a often coloured cream.

Like all fungi found growing in our communities I don’t recommend you pick and eat them from the wild. Interestingly, while researching a little on this particular group of fungi I have come across articles that say they are edible and taste nutty when cooked, while other articles I have read suggest they are inedible. Therefore, in the case of brick cap mushrooms my opinion is unchanged — don’t pick and eat these from the wild!

There is no particular odour from this mushroom and they are firm to the touch. Gills found beneath the cap are important for spore dispersal and the tiny spores, which are the means of fungi reproduction, are purple in colour for brick cap mushrooms.

If you would like help identifying or to learn more about a wildlife species contact me via email to bogs@ipcc.ie.

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