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Experts Confirm Rare Fungus Find In Wigan
Friday 5th December, 2008

Experts Confirm Rare Fungus Find In Wigan
Golden Bootleg

EXPERTS have confirmed a rare fungus, recorded only four times in the north west in the last 200 years, has been identified in a Wigan park.

Golden Bootleg Fungus (Phaeolepiota aurea) was spotted last month in Mesnes Park by eagle eyed Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust park rangers Ian Greenhalgh and Harry Dyer.

The fungus is so rare it’s listed on the Red Data list for threatened species.

John Taylor from the North West Fungus Group (NWFG) has since confirmed the find.

Ranger Ian Greenhalgh, whose wife Pauline is also a ranger and member of the NWFG and helped verify the initial discovery, said: “We’re very pleased, it’s a very very noteworthy find.

“This is only the fifth time it’s been identified in the north west. It’s very similar to other types of fungi and hard to spot as a result.”

The Golden Bootleg or Golden Sock as it is known in Scotland is a big, tall fungus, with a cap between 12 and15 centimetres across. It is usually covered in a bright orange to yellow dust.

Naturalists say it is found on rich soil, such as piles of leaf mould, in corners of damp parkland, especially where there has been some disturbance.

But why it decided to grow in Wigan is still a mystery.

Wigan Leisure and Countryside Services Manager Graham Workman said: "The spores aren't carried by the feet of bird or mammals but on the wind.
“Things need to be quite specific for them to take and they have to land on a suitable area with the correct atmospheric conditions, warm and humid, or nothing will happen, so we have certainly been very lucky here because it is so rare.

“We just don't really know why it appears in one place and not another.”

Because the actual “fruit” is only a small part of the huge mycelium root system given the right conditions it could make a re-appearance every autumn for years to come.

The fungus isn’t poisonous and despite its rarity revealing its location isn’t likely to pose a problem.

Ian added: “Few people have enough knowledge to identify it in the first place and it’s nothing like say, a wild orchid that people may be tempted to steal and grow elsewhere because it wouldn’t necessarily grow anywhere else.”

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