Quick facts

Common name: hazel gloves fungus

Scientific name: Hypocreopsis rhododendri

Family: Hypocreaceae 

Fruiting season: August to December

Habitat: temperate Atlantic rainforest

What does hazel gloves fungus look like?

The finger-like structures this fungus produces lends the species its name. They are often often compared to the look and feel of fawn kid gloves and can measure up to 8cm across.

Fruiting bodies: the tiny black dots on the surface of these orange lobes are the sac openings which release the spores. Once the fruiting bodies are past their best they may remain on the tree surface as dried-up, black crusts.

Not to be confused with: the even rarer willow gloves (Hypocreopsis lichenoides) which looks very similar but which grows on willow trees.

Credit: Jan Hamilton / Lorn Natural History Group

Where to find hazel gloves fungus

Hazel gloves fungus is a globally rare and threatened species found exclusively in temperate rainforest. This special habitat is itself restricted in the UK to the Atlantic coastline, including the Western Isles and west coast of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Devon. The fungus is almost always found growing on old hazel trees. Dunollie Wood in Scotland is just one of our woods it calls home.

Did you know?

The fungus gained its scientific name H. rhododendri after being described growing on rhododendron in the USA.

Value to wildlife

Hazel gloves does not actually feed on its host tree, but in fact is a parasite of another fungus - the glue crust fungus - which it often entirely covers. 

The glue crust fungus (Hymenochaete corrugata) engulfs the twigs and branches of its host tree and sticks them together, allowing it to move from branch to branch (and even tree to tree). It then feeds off the decaying wood beneath its gluey pads.   

Threats and conservation

Hazel gloves fungus is a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and Scottish Biodiversity List.

Its presence in a wood is a clear indicator of good air quality and Atlantic rainforest conditions, making it a flagship species for this important habitat. We're working to protect these woodlands and the wildlife they support across the UK. 

Blog

Rainforests in the UK: where to find them

Alastair Hotchkiss  •  29 Jul 2020

Rainforest in the UK is part of a globally rare and threatened habitat. Discover why it's important, where to find it and how you can help protect it.

Discover the UK's rainforest