Extremely rare Pembrokeshire fungus named among world's most threatened species
12:56pm Thursday 13th September 2012 in News
An extremely rare species of fungus, found in four sites in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, has recently been included in a list of the 100 most threatened species in the world.
The list, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Zoological Society of London, was compiled by 8,000 scientists and identifies 100 of the most threatened animals, plants and fungi on the planet.
The willow blister (Cryptomyces maximus) fungus, which is found growing on dead or dying willow twigs, has been recorded in only five sites across the world, four of which are located within Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
The Authority’s Ecologist Jane Hodges said: “This species has been known for about 200 years in the UK, although it has never been common.
“It is confined to just four locations on the St Davids Peninsula within the National Park and a fifth location in Sweden.”
Willow blister appears as a black fruit body growing through the bark, usually with a conspicuous yellow/orange border and it spreads by wind-borne spores probably infecting only those trees that already have been damaged.
Prior to its first discovery in the St Davids area in the mid 1980s there were only five UK records in the entire 20th century and it is categorised by the IUCN as critically endangered worldwide.
This extremely rare species has been monitored since 2008 by members of the Pembrokeshire Fungus Recording Network, led by County Recorder David Harries, in liaison with the site owners.
In addition to monitoring this species at its known sites, members of the PFRN are constantly looking out for willow blister in likely habitats within the National Park.
Most of the places where this species occurs in Pembrokeshire are owned by the National Trust, one of which is managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, and are sensitively managed for conservation.
Head of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Direction Martina Dunne added: “The willow blister is a deserving flagship species which raises the profile of the conservation of fungi as a vital dimension of biodiversity in the National Park.
“The fact that this species is only known by five locations in the entire world also highlights the fragile nature of some of our rarest species and the habitats that they depend on.
“Fungi have sometimes been overlooked in terms of species conservation and the publication of this list will hopefully be beneficial to raising awareness.”