Rare violet coral fungus found on Llyn Peninsula

Image source, Trevor Dines/Plantlife
Image caption,
The 'violet coral' fungus is native to the UK but sightings are "very rare"

A rare fungus only seen for a few days a year has been found during a bumper season for mushrooms.

A wet spring, warm summer and sudden drop in temperature is sparking a "buzz" among fungi enthusiasts.

Clavaria zollingeri - the "violet coral" - is among the rarest grassland fungi in the UK and was discovered on the Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd.

Botanist Dr Trevor Dines said: "It's so rare that this is the first time I've found it in 10 years."

The distinctive cauliflower-sized growth is a native but "very significant" fungus only found in a handful of sites.

Image source, Plantlife
Image caption,
Dr Trevor Hines of Plantlife Cyrmu is helping raise awareness of the ecological importance of meadows and grasslands

"I couldn't believe it when I saw it. I gave a yelp," Dr Dines said.

"This is the best time of year for looking but you never know exactly where or when - or even if - they will appear.

"Plus they only last a few days - a week at the most - but that only adds to the fun of hunting for fungi."

It was found in a small pasture close to a coastal path, though enthusiasts are reluctant to publicise exact locations for fear of it being taken.

Restrictions have been imposed in areas such as the New Forest to protect fungi from professional foragers, while others have been designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Conservation charity Plantlife has launched a new project to raise awareness of meadows and grasslands.

Image source, Trevor Dines/Plantlife
Image caption,
The coral-like fungus has an intense deep violet colour.

Violet coral is part of the waxcap fungi which more commonly appears in scarlet, white or gold.

"They are really colourful so they're great for getting people interested in fungi," said Dr Dines.

"We're seeing quite a buzz at the moment because we're having such a good year."

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