Photos and text Arne Ader
Altnurga ash grove, autumn month of 2014
When the Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve was created in 1994 a wonderful grove near Puurman was left just out of its boundaries: the Altnurga ash grove with powerful ashes and elms and white elms.
I remember the heart of summer of 1997 when my friend Einar Tammur talked about the wondrous forest at Altnurga. I remember too that the grand old man of fungi, Erast Parmasto, found new and rare species of fungi there some of which were completely absent in the nearby protected area. And when in August in the same summer a fairy ring of some twenty giant puffballs (Lasiosphaera gigantea) appeared beneath the majestic trees of Altnurga the place became famous thanks to the journalists who came to see the giant fungi. But it still took some ten years before the ash grove was incorporated in the Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve.
The giant puffballs of Altnurga in August 1997
In the mushroom autumn of this year I again remembered the famous mushrooms of Altnurga and so I decided to take a look at the familiar grove.
The renewed meeting surprised: from far away ashes with dried crowns were visible. Part of them were still standing, others lying on the ground. The ash death that in many places in Estonia has killed large ash trees had arrived here too.
Pattern on a some hundred years old ash giant’s bark
An old tree remained standing among its dried co-specifics. Its happily green crown inspires an optimism that maybe some ashes in good health would not become diseased! The tree giant in front of me deserved, besides admiration, also being measured – I got its circumference to about 4 ½ meters!
In the ash grove a deer mushroom (Pluteus cervinus) grew
Keeping classical mushroom caps in mind the ash grove this time was rather dry and poor in mushrooms. At the foot of a large ash I noticed a lonely deer mushroom and on a elm trunk lying on the ground a fungal rarity grew whose species name the law does not allow me to mention here.
But keeping in mind the diversity of the whole realm of fungi I am all the same in a true fungus forest: the ash dieback felling trees belongs to the sac fungi, Ascomycota, class! Curious – while the head forester of Kursi, Esko Krinal, managed to ward off the latest planned clear felling in the ash grove none of us has any effective remedy against the ash dieback pest.
In the beginning of autumn an arrival from Central Asia, the small balsam (Impatiens parviflora) has started flowering
The Alam-Pedja stories of Looduskalender are supported by the Environmental Investment Centre (Keskkonnainvesteeringute Keskus): www.kik.ee