Letter: Dangers to fungi

Sir: The over-picking of wild fungi (letter, 14 September) is not as dangerous as the over-picking of wild flowers, for the simple reason that fungi, unlike flowers, reproduce by means of spores (which are shed by the cap of the ripe plant) and mycelium (minute underground threads). Indeed, the mushroom-picker's basket and boots are more likely to increase the areas in which the fungi grow, rather than inhibit them.

For the same reason, pulling up the whole fungus rather than cutting it is less destructive than pulling up a wild flower. Moreover, the whole stem is sometimes essential for the identification of unfamiliar fungi.

There is also a possibility that a severed stem, left in the ground, will be infected by destructive bacteria which could kill off a whole colony of fungi.

The biggest danger to the well- being of our fungi, it seems to me, is not over-picking, but the despoilment of their habitats by trampling, raking and bashing about with sticks. As a result, I'm very secretive about the whereabouts of this year's bumper crop.

Yours sincerely,

SUSAN CAMPBELL

London, N1

15 September

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