There are bright red fungi all over the floor of this beech wood.
They are Russulas, commonly known as Brittlegills, and they have a strong pinkish hue.
It’s probably Russula nobilis, the Beechwood Sickener. When eaten they cause sickness, stomach pains and vomiting, unless you are a slug.
Russula nobilis is one of thousands of ectomycorrhizal fungi. What a horrendous word that is. It means that their microscopic threads grow inside the roots of plants, in this case Beech trees. They grow between the plant cells, not inside them, and enter into a complex reciprocal life. The net of fugal threads helps the tree take up water and nutrients from the soil and the fungus gets complex carbohydrates in return. Trees are more likely to survive with their fungal partners because of these complex relationships.
Having a relationship with a fungus could well have been how plants first colonised the land. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?
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