The earth tongue fruiting bodies of this species are produced between August and December (2). This fungus obtains its nutrients from the soil (2). Fungi are an enormous group of organisms that are so distinctive from both plants and animals that they are placed in their own kingdom. The main body of the fungus is composed of a multitude of microscopic threads (known as 'hyphae') which are located within the substrate (5). The fruiting body (such as the more familiar mushroom or toadstool) is produced to release spores and thus allows reproduction to occur. Fungi feed by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings.
Earth tongues are highly distinctive fungi; the ridged and leathery fruiting body above the stem does indeed resemble a tongue. In this species, the head of the fungus is reddish-brown or purplish-black in colour, and it is not separated from the non-fertile stem (or ¿stipe¿) (2).
Rare in central, northern and western Europe, the dark purple earth tongue is also found in parts of Asia and North America (2).
Dark purple earth tongue inhabits old grasslands and heathlands, associated with sandy soils (2).
Short-listed for inclusion in the Bern Convention by the European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF), and included on the Red Lists of 9 European countries (3).
Dark purple earth tongue is under threat from the destruction of its habitat, mainly from agricultural expansion or from the afforestation of grasslands (2).
Careful management of existing habitat will help to secure the future of the dark purple earth tongue. In addition, this species is a candidate for listing in Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, otherwise known as the Bern Convention (3)(4).