Bruce has been the President of the North West Fungus Group for the last 6 years and I tracked him down to his home in Mold on 8th March 2005 to carry out the following interview.

Looking at your collection of mugs I remember that you had a stall at Fungus 100 (to mark the BMS Centenary Celebrations in 1996) full of fungal memorabilia.

I started collecting in 1963 and have a dozen scrapbooks containing greeting cards and postcards with illustrations of fungi. I also have several albums containing most of the postage stamps that have been issued worldwide depicting fungi.

Where did you grow up?

My family moved from a farm in Cambridge to London just before the outbreak of war while I was still a baby and I grew up in the East End at Hackney. I used to escape from the inner city environment by going out into the countryside. I remember coming across my first puffball in 1953 at Epping Forest.

Is this when you became interested in slime moulds?

I have always been interested in the beauty of nature and first became interested in Myxomycetes as an undergraduate at Cambridge where I majored in botany. I found my first slime mould in the first week at Cambridge and have not looked back since.

Do you recall its name?

Yes, it was Leocarpus fragilis.

What about fungi?

As an undergraduate we had forays provided for us. My first fungus foray was led by Professor E. J. H. Corner who pointed out a specimen of Amanita phalloides and asked if I would like to taste it. Not being quite as green as the fungus I replied “after you sir”. The first BMS residential foray that I attended was in 1965 at Manchester although I had previously been on BMS day forays. Grace Waterhouse spotted me at one of the BMS forays looking for Myxomycetes and gave me the job of recording them for the BMS.

While searching the Internet I came across a reference to an article that you had written on centipedes and millipedes. Is this another interest?

As a child I suffered from arachnophobia and to overcome this fear I started to study insects. I have also written about ants, false scorpions, harvestmen and spiders. In addition, I have a long standing interest in plant galls.

What was your first job after graduation?

I worked on conservation for the Council for Nature and was based in London. In 1964 I left the Council for Nature and became Warden at the Kindrogan Field Centre. I initiated the famous Kindrogan fungus study courses with Roy Watling. Following this I spent 6 months teaching in Perth and then got an appointment as the first Conservation Officer to Hertfordshire and Middlesex. In 1971 I came to work at Chester College and have been here ever since.

What was your role in the BMS?

I have met and become close friends with many people through the Society. For example, John Ramsbottom, Keeper of Botany at the National History Museum, and Professor Terence Ingold with whom I still correspond regularly. I was the first Conservation Officer appointed in 1985 and held the post for 7 years. In fact I advised Council to stop the annual truffle hunts because of the conservation issues and the last one was actually held near Mold in 1993. I have also been the Foray Secretary for 6 years and have held posts on the Council and Foray Committee several times.

Oh and I forgot to add that I received the Benefactors’ Medal for services to mycology.

What about the book on Myxomycetes (see Reference)?

I took early retirement in 1994 to complete the book. A major problem was finding a publisher. The National History Museum said they were not interested and negotiations with Kew fell through. However, I spoke to someone from Richmond Publishing at Fungus 100 and they agreed to publish a limited edition of 1000 copies. People were bringing me copies to sign during my recent tour in America so it has got around.

So what is the next project, any more books?

I am working on a second edition of the identification handbook to include 30 new species. In addition, I plan to produce a volume on ‘Myxomycetes of Switzerland’. I am also producing a ‘Fungus Flora of Flintshire’ to be published by the County Council. A booklet on how to study powdery mildews with keys is being put together for the BMS and I am writing a Chapter on the same topic for the forthcoming ‘Handbook of Ascomycetes’. I have started writing children’s books based on animal stories and have also had my first poem recently published.

Children’s books on animals bring up thoughts of Beatrice Potter.

Not really since I am not able to do any illustrations. I have also started work on my autobiography ‘Not such a Mouldy Life’.

Are you going to include pictures in the second edition of the Myxomycetes handbook?

Yes, it will have coloured pictures of all the species. I already have the pictures on film but the main problem is scanning them all to convert the photographs to digital format.

You are certainly keeping yourself very busy in your retirement.

I like to think that I am putting something back into an area that I have got so much out of myself.

You recently did a lecture tour of America and met Taylor Lockwood the author of ‘Treasures from the Kingdom of Fungi’.

Yes, I was there for three weeks last November based at UC Berkeley (University of California) where I ran a workshop on Myxomycetes. The Americans find it most amusing that I am a mycologist from Mold. Taylor is an adventurer looking a bit like Crocodile Dundee who travels the world to photograph fungi. He used to be a pop singer, knows a lot about fungi and is an excellent photographer.

Any similar trips planned for this year?

I organised the ‘First International Congress on Myxomycetes’ held at Chester College in 1993 and plan to attend the fifth one in Mexico later this year where I shall present at least 2 papers.

What is your most important piece of advice for beginners?

Finding even small fungi and Myxomycetes is an easily learned skill. Keep your eyes open and do not be afraid to ask questions.


The Myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland. An Identification Book. Bruce Ing. 1999. The Richmond Publishing Co. Ltd., Slough, England.

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