The Nail fungus, Poronia punctata, is possibly the rarest fungus in Europe and receives many classifications to highlight this including being classified as endangered in the UK. There is very limited distribution of the fungus in the UK and the current stronghold is in the New Forest.
The fungus is distinct from other species of fungus, having a roughly circular upper disc which is off-white in colour with tiny black pores and a dark brown, cylindrical stipe which is attached to the dung,giving its distinctive 'nail' shape. The fungus can be found at any time of year, but it is most often observed from September to February.
It is a very specialized species, only being found on the dung of horses and ponies that have been feeding on unimproved acidic grassland and heath vegetation, highlighting why it is found in the New Forest.
Surveys were originally undertaken in 2003-04, and repeated in 2010-11 on a project led by the Trust. As 10 years have now passed since this coordinated survey, we would like to check that the fungus is still present. Unfortunately this time it won't be a targetted survey, but any records confirming its presence are still very valuable. And this is where you can help. If you are out on a walk in the forest this winter, please keep your eyes peeled for the fungus on piles on horse and pony dung. If you see the fungus, please submit your record using Living Record (www.livingrecord.net). If you want confirmation of ID, please geotag a photo with your record submission.
Monitoring Survey for the Nail Fungus, Poronia punctata, in the New Forest report: