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News / Fungus first for Shetland

Fungus Clavaria zollongeri - Photo: Ali Robertson

A STRIKING rare coral-like fungus has been spotted for the first time ever in Shetland.

Ali and Dirk Robertson came across the purple Clavaria zollingeri while out walking on a hill on the coastline between Wester Quarff and Uradale on Tuesday.

The grassland fungus, which is also known as violet coral or magenta coral, is on the red list of threatened species in Britain and is more commonly seen in areas like North America.

Shetland Amenity Trust’s Paul Harvey said photos of the find were sent to a specialist in Edinburgh who confirmed its identity.

“The problem with fungi is that a lot of them are almost under-recorded in Shetland,” he said.

“But with something quite colourful like this, you would think someone would have noticed it before, so it’s quite surprising.

“With it being on the red list in Britain, it’s a pretty rare fungus. This find will be notable even in a Britain context.”

Ali Robertson, who made the discovery alongside her husband Dirk on her birthday, said she was surprised to have found such a rare fungus.

“I wasn’t initially sure if it was a lichen or a fungus but it was quite a striking colour so I took a couple of photos to try and identify it when I got home.

“After a bit of research, I was pretty sure it was the coral fungus clavaria zollingeri,” she said.

“I was quite surprised I had identified it correctly if I’m honest. It’s also known as a fairy club fungus which I really love as it looks just like it could be used as fairy tools.”

The Clavaria zollingeri, usually a purple or violet colour, can grow up to 10cm tall and have branches up to 5mm thick.

In Britain, most records are from England and Wales, with only a few sightings in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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