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Rare fungus was carried to Scotland from France on WWI soldiers' bootsPhoto story (Clockwise from top let): (1) The rare fungus Clavulinopsis cinereoides was carried to Scotland from mainland Europe on WWI soldiers boots. (2) Soldiers in an Australian advanced dressing station near Ypres in 1917 with a soldier with symptom of “Shell shock” (3) Soldiers being treated and Staffs in March 1917 in front of the Craiglockhart military hospital

The rare coral fungus Clavulinopsis cinereoides which is foreign to Scotland but comparatively common in mainland Europe, has been found growing on a lawn at Craiglockhart Campus of Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland. The discovery was made by ecologist Abbie Patterson while working on a contract to catalogue the biodiversity amongst birds, plants, lichens, mammals and invertebrates for the University, the BBC reports.

Abbie said that he had figured out a bizarre theory that the WWI soldiers’ boots may have carried the spores while tramping the Flanders fields. The University campus grounds were used as Craiglockhart military hospital where Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, the two war poets, met in 1917. He believes that the British soldiers who visited the hospital for the treatment of shell shock brought the rare fungus spores to Scotland after picking those up on their boots. Shell shock is the inability of some WWI soldiers to reason, walk, talk or sleep because of the trauma of intense bombardment and fighting.

Abbie said that the group photographs taken during the Great War showed nurses and soldiers had been lined up on the very grassy bank where he discovered the fungus. ‘It’s hard not to make a direct link between the foreign fungus growing in Scotland and these soldiers’ he added.

Poet Owen described in his poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ (1917) that the soldiers during the WWI “cursed through the sludge”.


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