A MONMOUTHSHIRE forager has made the fungi "find of a lifetime" after spotting one of the rarest specimens in the whole of the UK while out mushroom hunting.

CHLOE Newcomb Hodgetts runs Gourmet Gatherings, a guided foraging business through which she also supplies Michelin-starred restaurants, distilleries and speciality clients throughout the country.

The Argus was lucky enough to join her on a forage a few years ago on the Severn Estuary - read more here.

However, recently Ms Newcomb Hodgetts made what she has dubbed a "once in a lifetime find".

Speaking to the Argus last week, she said: "Yesterday (Wednesday, September 13) I found one of the most rare fungi recorded in the UK, and not only one, but three on the same fallen tree trunk.

"The location is easily accessible but thankfully hidden away, but it will deteriorate quickly."

She explained that it was best to keep the location a secret, "otherwise I risk revealing one of my best spots".

"People keen on fungi will flock there and decimate the area," she said, noting that it was actually "illegal to destroy the fuiting body" of what she had found.

"I would like to protect it as far as possible," she said.

Ms Newcomb Hodgetts explained that the rare species she had discoverd was called the Tiered Tooth Fungus, Hericium cirrhatum, a "prize edible in some countries but on the Red Data list and protected in the UK due to its extreme rarity".

Due to its rarity, she explained it "must be admired rather than gathered".

"It has legal protection in Britain under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981," she said.

The Tiered Tooth Fungus is very closely related to the Lion's Mane mushroom which is incredibly value medicinally, Ms Newcomb Hodgetts explained, "for a whole host of applications from heart disease and nerve damage to dementia, stress and anxiety".

Nearby were examples of other fungi known as Ganoderma and Turkey Tails, "also both prized medicinal mushrooms with incredible medicinal value, particularly in cancer treatments", Ms Newcomb Hodgetts said.

"All have been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine, we are very slow to bioprospect from fungi in Western culture, but these magical mushrooms are finally slowly beginning to be given the reverence they deserve in modern medicine."

Find out more about Ms Newcomb Hodgetts’ guided foraging expeditions at gourmetgatherings.co.uk

Take care not to pick and eat anything if you are not 100 per cent sure it is safe.