Although this stunning fungus is apparently found in my native New Zealand – as well as in much of Europe, North America and some countries in Asia, I had never seen it until a few weeks ago. This is the appropriately named Cobalt crust (Terana caerulea), a fungus many books and websites report as a rare sight in England and Wales yet many of my fungi friends have seen it. We assume it is not actually rare but rather rarely reported or, perhaps, not recognised, as it is often to be found lurking on the undersides of fallen branches and dead trees, and it turns almost black when past its best.
When it’s young and fresh, its vibrant cobalt colour is instantly recognisable and a real highlight of any woodland wander. With a soft, almost waxy feel when moist, it’s no wonder it’s been described as ‘blue velvet on a stick’. As its name implies, this fungus is a member of the corticiord group of fungi – that’s crust fungi in layman’s terms, a fungus that adheres to something, rather than growing on a stem like a normal mushroom.