Fungi, or mushrooms, are neither animals nor plants, but represent their very own kingdom. Most of the time, they live underground or in rotting wood, unseen; they only come to light as fruiting bodies, in the form of mushrooms.
This normally happens in autumn, which is the best time of year to see all manner of mushrooms growing on trees (both dead and alive), as well as the soil. Dartmoor’s woodlands are internationally important for their communities of lichens. A lichen is a special association between a fungus and an alga. The fungus forms the main body of the lichen, providing the upper surface that protects the alga underneath, while the alga manufactures food through photosynthesis. A large number of rare lichen species are also found on the exposed granite outcrops. Characteristic Dartmoor lichens range from the widespread and dramatic String of Sausages to the tiny but globally rare Graphina pauciloculata.