New fungus discovered in West Sussex

A fungus previously unknown to the world of science has been discovered on the South Downs 

16th February 2018
Big Blue Pinkgill

A new fungus has been discovered in a ground-breaking find at Wolstonbury Hill, West Sussex.

The fungus was previously thought to be just one species, Big Blue Pinkgill (Entoloma bloxamii), but mycologists at Kew Gardens have discovered that it is at least four different species.

A group studying fungi at the National Trust's Wolstonbury Hill discovered one of the four similar looking species, the dark blue Entoloma atromadidum, and it was later confirmed by the Lost and Found Fungi project based at Kew.

Mycologists had previously suspected that Big Blue Pinkgill may have comprised of more than just one species, but lacked the necessary photographic and biological evidence. This discovery confirms their suspicions, and will alter the record books in the world of science.

Sunrise on the South Downs
Sunrise on the South Downs | Credit: Getty Images

Expert Opinion

Dr Martyn Ainsworth, Research Leader in Mycology, Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew, said:

“After more than a year of detective work and DNA sequencing at Kew we finally reached a position where we could confidently describe and name this new species in a publication. This work could not have happened without the keen eyes of many volunteers searching sites such as Wolstonbury for suitable specimens to analyse as part of our Lost & Found Fungi Project.

"It is always exciting to add a new name to the fungal kingdom and I’m still amazed that, even in a well-studied country such as ours, there are still fungi such as this very striking blue mushroom to be discovered."

Kew Gardens
The discovery was confirmed by the Lost and Found Fungi project at Kew Gardens | Credit: Getty Images

National Trust ranger Graham Wellfare, who looks after the land around Wolstonbury, said:

“This is a really exciting discovery and a real spectacle of science. Fungi are a bit of a neglected kingdom but they are fascinating organisms, and among the oldest on our planet. These days, we’re able to unearth hidden truths about them through modern science and technology and there’s so much potential to discover even more.”

“This is a really exciting discovery and a real spectacle of science."

Martin Allison, fungus recorder for Sussex, said “It sometimes happens that a rare or unusual fungus is identified during a study day, but to find a newly-described species is a very special event indeed.”

Hedgehog beside Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) in Norfolk
Hedgehog beside Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) in Norfolk | Credit: Getty Images

More discoveries

The four species of Big Blue Pinkgill that were discovered have now been recorded as: Entoloma atromadidum, Entoloma bloxamii, Entoloma madidum and Entoloma ochreoprunuloides.

This is the second major discovery of fungi at a National Trust property in recent months. At the Longshaw Estate, Derbyshire, during a count of grassland fungi, a group came across Ermine Bonnet (Mycena erminia), a small white toadstall usually found only in the Netherlands and Denmark.

For more information on rare fungi, have a look at the Lost and Found Fungi website.

Subscribe to BBC Countryfile Magazine today!

Choose a subscription offer to suit you and benefit from generous savings on the shop price, free UK delivery and discounts off special editions and back issues.

Countryfile Magazine - Current Issue