How boots of first world war troops brought a foreign invader to Scotland

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Scientists have discovered an unexpected leftover of the first world war on a Scottish university campus. A fungus, foreign to Scotland but relatively common in Europe, has been found growing in the grounds of the former Craiglockhart hospital where war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen met in 1917.

Its discoverer, ecologist Abbie Patterson, believes British troops who visited Craiglockhart for treatment for shell shock brought Clavulinopsis cinereoides to Scotland after picking up spores on their boots while tramping through the mud of Flanders.

"Group photographs taken during the Great War show soldiers and nurses lined up on the very grassy bank where I discovered the fungus," said Patterson. "It is hard not to make a direct link between these soldiers and the fact that this fungus – which is completely foreign to Scotland but not to Europe – was growing there. Its spores may have been brought over to this country after being picked up by soldiers in the trenches."...

Read entire article at The Guardian

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