Rare fungus found in Oban is a UK first

Hazel glove fungus at Dunollie Wood in Oban. Photograph: Stuart Gibson

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A rare rainforest fungus never before seen in the UK has been discovered at Woodland Trust Scotland sites in Oban.

At Dunollie Wood local naturalists found hazel glove fungus which looks like a monstrous hand clutching tree branches.

The hazel glove fungus was spotted by retired Countryside Ranger Richard Wesley from Cullipool on the Isle of Luing, during a recent visit to Dunollie Wood by Lorn Natural History Group.

‘After resting on a log, I looked down and to my surprise spotted a windblown twig with a small sample of hazel glove, as though it had been placed there for me to find,’ said Richard.

The group then set about searching the area for more substantial examples. Cynthia Grindley and Noelle Odling found the fungus on two standing trees. Woodland Trust Scotland staff subsequently identified hazel glove at two further spots.

Hypocreopsis rhododendri, the hazel gloves fungus, is a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Acton Plan and Scottish Biodiversity List.

‘Hazel glove is an indicator of high quality temperate rainforest so we are really pleased it has been identified at Dunollie Wood,’ said George Anderson, of Woodland Trust Scotland. ‘It might surprise a lot of people to know Oban is a town with a rainforest at its back.

‘Last year we formed the Atlantic Woodland Alliance, a partnership with other landowners, community and conservation groups which aims to secure a better future for this dwindling habitat.

‘Scotland’s rainforest is just as lush and just as important as tropical rainforest, but is even rarer.

‘It is found along the west coast and on the inner isles and is a unique habitat of ancient native oak, birch, ash, pine and hazel woodlands and includes open glades and river gorges.

‘Our rainforest relies on mild, wet and clean air coming in off the Atlantic, and is garlanded with a spectacular array of lichens, fungi, mosses, liverworts and ferns.

‘Many are nationally and globally rare and some are found nowhere else in the world.’