OUR wildflowers may have stopped blooming but the countryside is still bursting with colour, from deep scarlet rowan berries to the ever-changing tints and tones of autumn leaves, there is vibrancy all around.

But it was not a red berry or an ochre-coloured leaf that captured my attention last week when walking by the River Devon, but rather the jellified mass of yellow brain fungus growing on the branch of an ash.

It is so named because the intricate folds and tucks resemble the structure of an animal's brain.

Fungi often have complex life histories and yellow brain fungus is certainly true in this respect.

This specimen by the Devon was not gaining sustenance from the branch as one might expect, but instead was feeding upon wood-rotting crust fungi that also lived on the tree.

I find it difficult to comprehend how such a complex interaction could have ever evolved.

Why specialise in being a parasite upon a specific type of fungus? But then again, I suppose such questions on evolution apply to virtually every part of nature.

In recent days I've been looking out for two of my favourite fungi – honey and porcelain fungi.

Honey fungus often grows on tree stumps and displays the most wonderful buff-coloured cap sprinkled with darker chocolate-like flecks

Porcelain fungus is equally stunning and sports a white translucence that shines like a beacon.

Autumn leaves have been spectacular too, and by the river I have found several Norway maples that are adorned with stunning scarlet leaves.

Also putting on a grand display is the gean or wild cherry, which is common throughout Clackmannanshire. Their elongated leaves take on a mix of peach, yellow and crimson at this time of year.

Birds just love to feast upon their fruits that ripen in the summer, although I've always found them rather bitter to the taste.

Our other native cherry is the bird cherry, but its autumn colour is bland in comparison.

However, it more than makes up for this shortfall in spring when the blossom transforms the tree into a pyramid of shimmering white.