A RARE and elusive fungus, believed by some to possess mysterious medicinal properties, has been spotted in Malvern by a local woman enjoying a leisurely afternoon stroll.

Ganoderma resinaceum, or the Lacquered Bracket, had not been seen in Worcestershire since 1987 before it was found in Malvern Wells two years ago.

Sheila Spence, a keen amateur mycologist from Ledbury, was surprised to find it had recently returned when she found it nestled at the base of the same towering oak tree.

Mrs Spence was taking her lunch from working at the Three Counties Showground when she made her discovery and can only attribute its sudden appearance to the wet weather currently masquerading as summer.

She said: “I am presently involved in surveying the fungi of the Malvern Hills and Commons for the Malvern Hills Conservators and whilst this particular site is just outside of their area when you see something as exciting as this you record it anyway.

“It has been a strange summer and now fungi which generally emerge much later in the autumn are already starting to be found, several weeks before I would normally expect to see them.”

The Fungal Records Database of the British Isles, managed by the British Mycological Society, holds records from all over the country of all species of fungi both rare and common which helps fungi recorders like Mrs Spence find out whether individual species have been found in any particular area before.

This particular species usually grows on mature oak trees and is presently being studied by university researchers to determine its medicinal properties.

Many fungi, including the Ganodermas which are large bracket fungi, have been used in the Far East for medicinal purposes for centuries and today work continues to see if this rare fungus can be propagated for use in our modern day medicines.

Anyone finding unusual fungi on the Malvern Hills and Commons over the next few weeks can get in touch with Sheila either via the Conservators office or email marchesfungi@btinternet.com.

The BMS Roadshow will be exhibiting at the forthcoming Malvern Autumn Show on Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, September 28.

They hope to have a display of fresh fungi and lots of information about this fascinating but little understood subject.

Sheila and her husband George Spence will be hosting the roadshow and will be pleased to welcome members of the public onto the stand which can be found in the Harvest Pavilion.

THE discovery of Lacquered Bracket is the latest in a long line of elusive wildlife found living around Malvern.

In 1996 schoolgirl Katie Whipp stumbled upon a fungus known as Berkeley’s Earth Star (Geastrum berkleyii) while on a family nature hunt in Cradley.

Her mother, and member of the Worcestershire Fungus Group, was overjoyed when the species popped up again four years later at the same spot.

In November 2001 amateur naturalist Rev Edward Cox found a mystery mushroom while walking around St Wulstan’s nature reserve.

Despite consulting friends on its name, it could not be identified, leaving him to consider sending it to the experts at Royal Kew Gardens.

Keen-eyed Mr Cox was not a stranger to rare finds having found a spider never before seen in the county in his wife’s potting shed just two years earlier and then an unusual type of ladybird on a rose bush in his garden.