Fungi are an enormous group of organisms that are so distinctive from both plants and animals that they are placed in their own kingdom. The main body of the fungus is composed of a multitude of microscopic threads (known as ‘hyphae’) which are located within the substrate (4). The fruiting body (such as the more familiar mushroom or toadstool) is produced to release spores and thus allows reproduction to occur. Fungi feed by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings.
Pig’s ear fungus forms a mycorrhizal relationship with coniferous trees such as fir and spruce and with beech trees (5). The hyphae of the fungus are closely associated with the roots of the tree and both species appear to gain from this relationship (4). The lobed fruiting bodies are produced between August and November (5).