My photos of this most majestic of mushrooms were taken on 16 November, yet these fungi have only just disappeared, succumbing eventually to the almost constant rain we’ve had in the past month. But what a show they put on! Clumped together in twos or threes and standing up to eight inches tall, they trooped grandly across a garden bed at my local park in an arc that was at least five metres long, as if they were parading for royalty!
This is the aptly named Trooping funnel, until recently known by the scientific name Clitocybe geotropa – clitocybe means ‘sloping head’ and geotropa, in ancient Greek, means ‘towards the earth’ – but now reclassified Infundibulicybe geotropa. Such reclassifications are common in the fungi world now that their individual characteristics can be more accurately identified with the benefit of modern technology. This fungus also has other common names: Monk’s Head (I guess its soft leathery texture does look a bit like a shaven pate) and, in Scotland, the Rickstone Funnel-cap (its shape resembles a particular method of stacking corn, straw or hay).
The Trooping funnel is a common enough woodland fungus but is most famous for its impressive fairy rings. One such ring in France was recorded at more than half a mile wide and was believed to be 800 years old!