The species-rich woodland, chalk grassland and wetland in the South Downs National Park is officially now the only place in West Sussex where you’ll be able to see Timber Mazegill – more formally known as Gloeophyllum trabeum. And it’s the first time this has been found in Sussex.
It’s a rare bracket fungus, listed in the UK Red Data Book, a recognised conservation guide. It was found growing on an old poplar log pile in the Big Picnic Field by local mycologist Vivien Hodge.
It’s so unusual, Vivien had to send a specimen off to experts at Kew Gardens to have it positively identified. However, if fungi fans want to see Timber Mazegill, they’ll have to wait until autumn – and it’s not edible!
‘We’re very good on a lot of things – butterflies, birds and various other creatures. But we’re not particularly good on fungi,’ said Project Manager Matthew Thomas. Then Vivien Hodge came and discovered this rare type. ‘It’s the first sighting of it in Sussex,’ Matthew added.
‘What a great way for our Sussex partners to start the new year,’ said A Rocha UK Conservation Director Andy Lester, ‘with the finding of a new species for the county.
‘Discovering a new species at any Partner In Action site is exciting. But finding a species that’s never before been recorded in the county is really worth celebrating.’
Steyning Downland Scheme aims to create opportunities for local people to get ‘hands-on’ involvement in their countryside. Almost everything they do is through volunteers.
The project organises conservation activities, research, community events, education and recreation days so people can work together in decision-making and land management. Vivien Hodge has made a list of fungi she’s found there. (Photo: Vivien Hodge)