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Did you play pick-up sticks as a child? Do you still play it, perhaps with your own children or your grandies? Well, I play pick-up sticks quite often too, but not quite the way you might imagine. You see I pick up sticks sometimes to find out what’s scurrying around underneath them or, especially at this rather moist time of year, to see what might be growing on them.

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You might’ve looked at this first stick lying on the ground in my local woodland and thought, ‘Nah! Nothing on that’ but you would’ve been wrong …

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… because if you had looked closer …

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… a little bit closer, you would’ve seen this! Isn’t it gorgeous? This oozing mass of loveliness is a fungus, the Bleeding broadleaf crust fungus (Stereum rugosum) to be precise.

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I admit that I can sometimes spend an hour or more, bending down and examining stick after stick and finding nothing but, when I discover little gems like this, they make the effort totally worthwhile. So, next time you go to the woods, try playing a little game of pick-up sticks. You might get a pleasant surprise! (Oh, and take tissues or wet wipes, as you’ll almost certainly get a bit dirty, as well.)

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