A tight bundle

There’s a tight bundle of curiously coloured mushrooms on this dead wood. It’s Sulphur Tuft.

Hypholoma fasciculare - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

That’s such a perfect name. Their yellow colour is unmistakable.

Hypholoma fasciculare - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The scientific name is Hypholoma fasciculare. I used to love saying that as a teenager.

Hypholoma means mushroom with threads, while fasciculare is from the Latin fasces which means a tight bundle. A fasces in Ancient Rome was a bound bundle of sticks with an axe at its centre. It was a symbol of judicial power. Why? Because you could either be hit by the rods or have your head chopped off by the axe. It’s the original root of the word fascism – a tight bundle wielding power over others.

Hypholoma fasciculare - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
British Fungi by JH Crabtree - The Hall of Einar

It’s in my copy of British Fungi and How to Identify Them by JH Crabtree. “Sometimes the fungi exceed a hundred in one cluster. It appears in July, and grows profusely until the frosts of November.” 

There’s also a familiar warning about its edibility, “The fungus is regarded as poisonous, and should neither be eaten nor indifferently handled.”

Sulphur Tuft - The Hall of Einar

Just like fascism, then, it shouldn’t be touched and certainly not swallowed.

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