It is estimated that there are over 450 species of large fructification fungi in the Świętokrzyski National Park. Below some main fungi developing on old and dead trees are presented.
The number of forests where such trees can be found is decreasing constantly. In production forests, the low cutting age prevents many endangered fungi species from development. Moreover, their growth depends strictly on wood rotting which occurs inside a tree, and therefore, is a very undesirable process as far as wood production is concerned. Hence, natural forest complexes, such as national parks and reserves are of great significance in the fungi protection. Let us turn to the brief overview of fungi occurring in the ŚNP.
Cauliflower Fungus (Sparassis crispa) infects the roots and trunk bases of old, weakened coniferous trees, usually pines, causing brown wood rot. Fruiting bodies, in the form of numerous petals, grow from a common stem. They occur from July to the end of October.
Hen-of-the-Woods (Grifola frondosa) is another species that attacks roots and bases of the weakened trees, mainly deciduous ones, such as hornbeams and beeches. It is a very rare fungus. Fruiting bodies, similarly to those of the cauliflower fungus, occur from late summer to autumn. They are annual but grow on the same tree for a number of years in succession.
Agarikon, also known as quinine conk (Laricifomes officinalis) is not only very precious but also rare. The fungus infects old larches. Chełmowa Góra is one of the 5 sites of its natural occurrence that have been noted in the recent years.
Lion’s manes, also known as bear’s heads or monkey’s heads (Hericium) occur on snags, and coarse woody debris. The fungus is covered by strict protection. There are two species of lion’s manes in the ŚNP: comb tooth (Hericium coralloides) and Hericium clathroides. The first one develops on dead fir wood. It can be also found on other coniferous trees but less frequently. Similar Hericium clathroides occurs mainly on beeches.
Tinder Fungus, also known as Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarius), is a common decoration of the local forests. It occurs throughout the entire year, usually on beeches and birches. Its perennial fruiting bodies are shaped like a horse’s hoof. Red Banded Polypore (fomitopsis piniola) is another common bracket fungi. It is found mainly on firs and spruces. Its fruiting bodies, which are also perennial, can have stripes in three different colours.
Sulphur Shelf, also known as the chicken fungus (Laetiporus sulphureus) is a very decorative bracket fungus as well. It grows on dead deciduous trees, mainly oaks.
Giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea) is another fungi of the ŚNP that is, undoubtedly, worth mentioning. This rare and strictly protected species occurs singly in meadows, pastures, and thickets, usually in summer and autumn. It is counted among the biggest fungi in the world. Its rounded and closed fruiting bodies grow to be 10 to 70 centimetres (3.9 to 28 in), and can reach the weight of 20 kilograms (44 lb).
Parasitic Bolete (Boletus parasiticus) is interesting as well. It grows parasitically on earthballs, damaging their inside. Usually, its several capped fruiting bodies parasitize on one bulbous fruiting body of the earthball. Parasitic bolete is rare in Poland. It occurs in summer and autumn in open pine and mixed coniferous forests, especially in forest meadows.
The following strictly protected fungi species can be found in the Świętokrzyski National Park:
Fomitopsis (Laricifomes) officinalis,
Bondarzewia montana (Quél.) Singer,
Ganoderma lucidum, commonly known as lingzhi mushroom or reishi mushroom,
Grifola frondosa, commonly known as Hen-of-the-Woods, Ram’s Head and Sheep’s Head,
Sparassis crispa, commonly known as Cauliflower Fungus,
Hericium coralloides, commonly known as Comb Tooth,
Calvatia gigantean, commonly known as Giant puffball
Morchella esculenta, commonly known as morel, morel, yellow morel, true morel, morel mushroom, and sponge morel,
Strobilomyces strobilaceus, commonly known as Old Man of the Woods,
Boletus parasiticus, commonly known as Parasitic Bolete,
Meripilus giganteus, commonly known as giant polypore or black-staining polypore.