Old, unused forests with lots of deadwood like in Hainich National Park are heaven for mushrooms and toadstools.
When beeches age, they lose their power of resistance and bracket fungi start their work: They slowly penetrate the wood with their mycelium roots and colonise the trees. It is not rare for trunks and crowns of dying beeches to be host to by 20 different kinds of fungi at the same time, especially tinder fungus.
Over 1,600 fungi species have been identified in the national park so far, far more than plant species. Experts estimate a total of more than 3,000 species. An impressive comparison: 6,000 mushroom and toadstool species are native to Germany. Around 300 fungi species that can be found in Hainich are endangered or even threatened by extinction. A number of species are found nowhere else in Thuringia or are extremely rare in Germany as a whole. Thus, the national park has a high responsibility for preserving biodiversity.
Among the many different species of mushroom in Hainich there are also important indicator species for primeval woodland. One species that was first identified in Hainich in 1999 was thought to be extinct. The very rare Mycoacia nothofagi grows on beech deadwood and is thus an indicator for natural beech forests.
Like the beech, the tinder fungus is a symbol of our national park. On old beeches, its fruiting body can grow to an enormous size and up to ten years or even older. The white-rot fungus can fatally weaken mighty big trees. It was given its name at a time, when people still collected their fuel in the forest – "it burns like tinder".
The fruiting body of this particularly rare and beautiful species is reminiscent of a delicate white coral. With a bit of luck, you might be able to see it in Hainich in the autumn on upright old beeches that are mostly rotten rotting or broken. The highly endangered mushroom hardly ever occurs outside natural forests nowadays.
Collecting mushrooms in small quantities for personal (non-commercial) use is permitted in Zone 2 of the national park from 1 July until 15 November. We are appealing to visitors though to support a 'no-picking' code in the interest of an undisturbed development of forest life.
We appeal to you to look at the beauty and diversity of mushrooms and other fungi in the national park, but don't pick.