Fungi are found throughout the borough of Rochdale. They are present all year round especially during the wetter months, but they come into their own and multiply in number and variety as autumn approaches. They might be found anywhere; in gardens, meadows, moors and woodland.
A walk in local woodlands such as Roch Valley, Healey Dell, Ashworth Valley, Hopwood Woods and Alkrington Woods will show species living in symbiotic relations such as the Milkcaps (Lactarius sp.) that may have one particular type for each tree species – the Oak Milkcap (Lactarius quietus), or the Beech Milkcap (Lactarius blennius). Or there may be species parasiting trees such as the Bootlace or Honey fungus (Armillaria). Some interesting species that are readily found include the Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare), the Deceiver (Laccaria laccata) or its lovely colour form the Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystine) a real beauty and not difficult to find. A common species upon Birch trees is the Birch Bracket fungus or Razer strop fungi (Piptoporous betulinus) and a clustered bracket fungi the bright yellowy pink ‘Chicken of the Woods’ (Laetiporus) can be found upon trees which are beginning to rot on the inside.
Not so readily found is the Tiered Tooth fungus (Hericium cirrhatum) or Cobalt Crust (Terana caerulea), or one of Britain’s rarest fungi Midnight Disco (Pachyella violaceo-nigra); all of which were located in the Roch valley some years ago but have not been seen since.
Once unknown in the borough the long looked-for Scarlet Elf Cap fungus (Sarscypha coccinea) finally arrived and now is to be found in fair numbers throughout the borough, but particularly in Healey Dell where it’s to be seen on the old branches making up the ‘habitat hedges’ alongside the railway track path
Some Puffballs, the size of a football, may be found in meadow areas, while other meadow species which are particularly beautiful during Oct-Nov are the Waxcaps. These are only found within unimproved grassland – often in hilly areas where the start of the moorland begins and where sheep graze the open countryside in summer. These lovely fungi come in bright pillar-box reds and orange colours; brick orange or bright chrome yellow. They often have a cap with a waxy texture and their shining colourful buttons gleam amongst the wild moorland grasses. Some of the best areas to look for these are around the local reservoirs, Watergrove, Greenbooth, and Piethorn.
Common among the short moorland grasses are the Golden Spindles (Clavulinopsis fusiformis), whereas the Violet Coral (Clavaria zollingeri) is only rarely found. Perhaps one of the most interesting fungi to be found in the borough is the Scarlet Catterpillarclub (Cordyceps militaris) that grows on the underground pupae of moths before pushing up through the turf as a bright orange clump.