Dune mushrooms, between sea and continent

Between sea and continent, the sandy beaches evoke holidays, swimming … Rarely do we look for mushrooms. Yet they are there, pointing their round hats between the towels.

Dune landscape with Dune Morel, Morchella dunensis
Dune landscape with Dune Morel, Morchella dunensis

Sand and mushrooms

The coastal dune coastline, a building of sand brought by the sea, is a unique, mineral environment, subject to harsh conditions: beating tides, erosion, high salinity, intense heat, strong winds, mobile soil … Pioneer plants despite everything succeeded in settling down and stabilizing the Dunes. Accompanied by a whole procession of mushrooms, which also found strategies to adapt to all these constraints. Plants, fungi and animals will shape various habitats, with very flexible borders.

Habitats with diverse vegetation

From the beach beaten by the waves towards the forests of the interior of the grounds one observes a succession of environments:

The beach top: the embryonic dune with its pioneer plants supporting salt, common soda, sand rock, sea cakilier …

The great Dune: the mobile white dune, where the Oyat dominates, with the maritime spurge, the dune panicaut …

The sheltered slope of the great Dune: the semi-fixed dune or gray dune, with plants protected from aggressive winds, fescues, sand cleavers, sagebrush …

From the Gray Dune to the forest: the fixed black dune, favorable to the installation of a rich vegetation, dominated by the Everlasting sand, the Silenus, Ephedra, Carex … But also the moss and lichen carpets.

The dune forest and its edge: the forest fringe, with its shrubs, brambles, gorse, and trees, oaks, pines …

Dune fungi will settle specifically in these different habitats.

The mushrooms of the Embryonic Dune

Where the waves stop, a beautiful mushroom with a yellowish cap already grows, the Strophaire des dunes, Stropharia halophila. This species typical tolerates salt very well, and is anchored in a mobile soil by its mycelial filaments assembled in a thick cord buried deep in the sand. Another smaller, reddish-brown species, the Conocybe des dunes, Conocybe dunensis, climbing towards the crest of the White Dune, anchored by a particularly long foot. By his side the well-known Paris mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, may appear occasionally. It takes advantage of the leashes, organic waste deposited by the sea, on which it feeds. It is also found on the White Dune.

The mushrooms of the mobile white dune

This habitat poor in organic matter, subjected to the wind, domain of the Oyat, hosts a Sand Psathyrelle, Psathyrella ammophila, with a frail but remarkably adapted silhouette. Rarer the Mediterranean collybie, Mediterranean Xerula, is also typical of the White Dune. Its brownish to brown-ochraceous cap surmounts a very long foot, buried in the sand where it meets the roots of the Oyat. Also emerging from the tufts of Oyats, of astonishing appearance, the Dune Satyr, Phallus hadriani, also develops a strong mycelial cord in the sand. And how not to quote Morel of the dunes, Morchella dunensis, edible spring of a small size of a uniform ocher-brown, often sheltering on the land side of the White Dune.

Semi-fixed gray dune mushrooms

After the mobile White Dune, the habitat stabilizes with denser vegetation. The false-conical hygrophore, Hygrocybe conicoides, remarkable for its bright, orange colors, will find a favorable ecological niche. Often deeply anchored in the sand, it shows the tip of a hat, the primer of the foot. Cousin of Rosé-des-Prés Agaricus devoniensis will emerge from the mosses, with its round hat of unchanging white. Edible, it should not be confused with the Agaric of the sands, Agaricus menieri, one of the poisonous dune species. At their side, also taking advantage of the plants buried by the movements of the sand to feed on organic matter, we will find the Panéole of the dunes, Panaeolus dunensis, with its rounded cap, dark brown.

Black Dune mushrooms attached

The vegetation is well established, new processions of mushrooms appear. Lepiote false helveolea or Pink-footed Lepion, Lepiota pseudohelveola var. Sabulosa, toxic like the majority of small Lepiotes, will be found at the end of the summer period. Arrhenia spathulata will emerge from the moss and lichen mats, with Lycoperdon lividum, Galerina laevis, some Omphalins … In lower, more humid areas, open environments or the proximity of a forest cover, the Pézize des sables, Geopora arenicola, will just show the opening of its ocher brown cup. Its populations can be remarkably dense.

Dunaire forest

The sometimes impenetrable thickets and bushes precede the forest, mycorrhizal fungi appear, sometimes long before they see a tree … Amanites, Inocybes, Hebelomas, Mushrooms, Russules and Dairy develop under diverse forest cover. Conifers planted by men, oaks, willows … On the edge, remarkable for its appearance in the shape of a ball then a star, Hygrometric Astrea or Earth Star, Astraeus hygrometricus, cannot go unnoticed. Sometimes alongside the Equestrian tricholome, the Bidaou, surprisingly olive-yellow to golden yellow. This poisonous mycorrhizal fungus is particularly fond of pines.

That they feed by their symbiosis along with other plants, by searching for rare organic materials, Dune fungi have been able to adapt to an unstable environment with multiple constraints. They contribute to the balance of these fragile ecosystems, and are to be protected, just as much as the flora and fauna of the dune coast.

Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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