Natural Resources Wales has uncovered a type of rare fungus previously unknown in Wales during a survey into 200 of the country’s most important bog and fen sites.
The detailed surveys of peatlands in Wales often reveal rare and unusual species and it was during one of these the team made an exciting discovery – the Fen Puffball (or Bovista paludosa).
The National Peatland Survey has been looking at the benefits of good quality peatlands to people, the economy and wildlife.
It is an important habitat for nature, stores millions of gallons of water to help reduce flooding and stores carbon which helps to combat climate change.
Sam Bosanquet, a senior vegetation ecologist for Natural Resources Wales, explained:
“Surveying these peatlands is important work as they deliver so many hidden benefits for society.
“Whether it is regulating our river flows, storing carbon or simply as a fantastic place to visit we have to make sure they are in good condition."
Finding this puffball in Mynydd Epynt in Powys was an added bonus as it is the first time this fungus has been found in Wales, it is extremely rare and only five examples have ever been recorded in the UK.
Such is its rarity that that the Fen Puffball is named on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) list as a UK priority conservation species.
Although there are more than 30 British puffball species, the fen habitat of Bovista paludosa is distinctive and its rarity reflects the lack of fen vegetation in southern Britain.
Sam, who is also NRW's lead officer on fungus conservation, added:
“It's not often that UK Priority conservation species completely new to Wales are discovered, and this find helps highlight the interesting and varied nature of the work our expert ecologists do whilst gathering evidence for NRW.
“In the last eight years the team has discovered the fungi Bog Earth-tongue (Geoglossum sphagnophilum) for the first time in Britain at a site in Gwynedd and the Bog Jellydisk (Sacroleotia turficola) for the first time in Wales in Carmarthenshire.”