Mycologists at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew have been studying big blue pinkgill (Entoloma bloxamii), a fungus that had long been suspected to be more than one species.
They found that it is actually at least four different species, after studying its DNA and morphology.
“After more than a year of detective work and DNA sequencing at Kew we finally reached a position where we could confidently describe and name this new species in a publication,” says Dr Martyn Ainsworth, research leader at Kew.
“This work could not have happened without the keen eyes of many volunteers searching sites for suitable specimens to analyse as part of our Lost & Found Fungi Project.”
The big blue pinkgill had been identified as one of 100 target species in the project, which aims to identify which fungi species are actually rare and which are just under-recorded.
It has now been described as four species: Entoloma atromadidum, E. bloxamii, E. madidum and E. ochreoprunuloides.
The National Trust’s Wolstonbury Hill in the South Downs is the site of one of the new species, which was discovered during a fungi study day.
“It sometimes happens that a rare or unusual fungus is identified during a study day, but to find a newly-described species is a very special event indeed,” says Martin Allison, fungus recorder for Sussex.
Other National Trust sites have also discovered rare fungi recently, including a UK first of ermine bonnet (usually found in The Netherlands and Denmark) at Longshaw Estate in Derbyshire and the extremely rare powdercap strangler at Clumber Park at Nottinghamshire.
Main image: One of the newly described species. © Louise Buckley/National Trust