Most folk think that you may only be able to see a mushroom or a toadstool in the autumn months, but in fact they may be observed all year round. The fungi are always there even if you cannot see the fruiting body; a large portion of it remains underground or within the growth mass, rotting wood for example. Environmentally fungi are of great importance for they are nature’s recyclers, breaking down the dead and dying, and releasing their nutrients back into the earth so that others species may thrive.

Fungi are recognised as completely different to animals and plants, and are scientifically classified having their own separate kingdom simply named ‘Fungi’. Unlike plants, fungi do not manufacture their food via photosynthesis, and cellulose is replaced in them with chitin. They digest their food externally and absorb it. Fungi reproduce by releasing tiny spores into the atmosphere via fruiting bodies. Some fungi reproduce asexually, by simple cell division, whilst others have asexual and sexual stages. Sexual reproduction involves the fusion of hyphae, the long white mass of tendrils which penetrates the feeding mass and is hidden from everyday view.

We as humans consume fungi in the yeast in our breads, beers and wines, in cheeses, and also in the form of penicillin.

Wood & Woodland Fungi

Here we have species commonly found growing on dead or living wood in woodland, forests, parks, and basically where there are any number of trees, whether deciduous, or coniferous. Some of these species are parasites, which feed off the living tree, some of which do not harm the tree, but others may kill it. Those that feed off their host without harming it are but weak parasites which only consume the nutrients they require, and are biotrophic species, most of which are unable to feed on dead, decaying wood. Those fungi that do harm and kill the host tree can usually feed off the dead wood also, and these are called necrotrophic fungi. Saprophytic fungi feed off the dead wood of trees, whether standing, fallen or buried, or used in man-made constructions. Some may appear parasitic, but may be just feeding off the dead parts of a tree.

Despite this talk of parasitism, these are few compared to the many that mutually benefit the well-being of the woodland environment. To put it simply, trees and fungi rely on each other for their healthy survival, and this symbiont relationship is important for all life species of the woodland habitat.

Grass & Grassland Fungi

Our areas of grass and  grassland, whether they are pastures, meadows, moors, hills and mountains, parkland, road verges, or even our own garden lawns, are a rich environment for many species of fungi to thrive in. In fact, each species of grass cannot live without fungi, and vice-versa. It is the same symbiotic partnership as woodland fungi has with the trees. Even on our coasts, fungi grow amid the clifftop grasses and those of the sand dunes.

Bracket & Crust Fungi

Bracket and crust fungi come in various shapes, patterns and colours, and can be quite magnificent to see. Most feed on dead or dying trees, or rotting stumps, but some are also parasitic.

Before you begin to look through these colourful and fantastic forms of fungi, I would like to state I am no expert on identification and will not be making any reference to their edibility or inedibility, so please, if you see any of these out in the wild do not pick them or eat them without consulting a specialist, ideally a mycologist, an expert in the field. Some species of fungi can be extremely poisonous, and even deadly, especially as some people may be allergic to some forms. So hey, do not touch but enjoy their beauty and their wonder!

Family Agaricaceae (Parasols, Mushrooms, etc.)

Shaggy Parasol Chlorophyllum rhacodes

Shaggy Parasol
(Chlorophyllum rhacodes)

Shaggy Inkcap Coprinus comatus

Shaggy Inkcap
(Coprinus comatus)

Parasol Macrolepiota procera

(Macrolepiota procera)

Agaricus campestris

Field Mushroom
(Agaricus campestris)

Family Amanitaceae (Amanitas)

Grey Spotted Amanita (Amanita excelsa var. spissa)

Grey Spotted Amanita
(Amanita excelsa var. spissa)

Family Bolbitiaceae (Fieldcaps & Conecaps)

Common Conecap Conocybe tenera

Common Conecap
(Conocybe tenera)

Family Cortinariaceae

Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius

Spectacular Rustgill
(Gymnopilus junonius)

Veiled Poisonpie (Hebeloma mesophaeum)

Veiled Poisonpie
(Hebeloma mesophaeum)

Family Hydnangiaceae

The Deceiver (Laccaria laccata)

The Deciever
(Laccaria laccata)

Family Inocybaceae

Variable Oysterling Crepidotus variabilis

Variable Oysterling
(Crepidotus variabilis)

Family Mycenaceae: Bonnets

Rosy Bonnet Mycena rosea
Rosy Bonnet
(Mycena rosea)
Clustered Bonnet Mycena inclinata

Clustered Bonnet
(Mycena inclinata)

Angel's Bonnet Mycena arcangeliana
Angel’s Bonnet
(Mycena arcangeliana)
Iodine Bonnet (Mycena filopes)
Iodine Bonnet
(Mycena filopes)
Mycena pseudocorticola
Mycena pseudocorticola

Family Physalacriaceae

Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)
Porcelain Fungus
(Oudemansiella mucida)

Family Pleurotaceae

Branching Oyster (Pleurotus cornucopiae)
Branching Oyster
(Pleurotus cornucopiae)

Family Psathyrellaceae: Brittlestems & Inkcaps

Glistening Inkcap (Coprinellus micaceus)
Glistening Inkcap
(Coprinellus micaceus)
Fairy Inkcap Coprinus disseminatus
Fairy Inkcap
(Coprinus disseminatus)
Pleated Inkcap (Parasola plicatilis)
Pleated Inkcap
(Parasola plicatilis)
Firerug Inkcap Coprinus domesticus
Firerug Inkcap
(Coprinus domesticus)

Family Russulaceae: Milkcaps & Brittlegills

Birch Milkcap (Lactarius tabidus)
Birch Milkcap
(Lactarius tabidus)
Ochre Brittlegill (Russula ochroleuca)
Ochre Brittlegill
(Russula ochroleuca)

Family Strophariaceae: Roundheads, Tufts & Scalycaps

Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare
Sulphur Tuft
(Hypholoma fasciculare)
Blue Roundhead Stropharia caerulea
Blue Roundhead
(Stropharia caerulea)
Golden Scalycap
(Pholiota aurivella)
Sheathed Woodtuft Kuehneromyces mutabilis

Sheathed Woodtuft
(Kuehneromyces mutabilis)

Sticky Scalycap (Pholiota gummosa)
Sticky Scalycap
(Pholiota gummosa)
Common Rustgill Gymnopilus penetrans

Common Rustgill
(Gymnopilus penetrans)

Funeral Bell Galerina marginata
Funeral Bell
(Galerina marginata)

Family Hydnaceae

Terracotta Hedgehog (Hydnum rufescens)
Terracotta Hedgehog
(Hydnum rufescens)

Family Tricholomataceae

Clouded Funnel Clitocybe nebularis

Clouded Funnel
Clitocybe nebularis)

Family Boletaceae

Oak Bolete (Boletus appendiculatus)
Oak Bolete
(Boletus appendiculatus)

Family Lycoperdaceae: Puffballs

Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)
Common Puffball
(Lycoperdon perlatum)
Stump Puffball Lycoperdon pyriforme
Stump Puffball
(Lycoperdon pyriforme)

Family Sclerodermataceae: Earthballs

Common Earthball – Scleroderma citrinum
Common Earthball
(Scleroderma citrinum)

Family Fomitopsidaceae

Birch Polypore – Piptoporus betulinus
Birch Polypore
(Piptoporus betulinus)

Family Fomitopsidaceae

Oak Mazegill (Daedalea quercina)
Oak Mazegill
(Daedalea quercina)

Family Ganodermataceae: Brackets

Southern Bracket (Ganoderma australe)
Southern Bracket
(Ganoderma australe)
Artist's Bracket Ganoderma applanatum
Artist’s Bracket
(Ganoderma applanatum)

Family Hymenochaetaceae: Brackets

Rusty Porecrust Phellinus ferruginosus
Rusty Porecrust
(Phellinus ferruginosus)
Willow Bracket (Phellinus igniarius)
Willow Bracket
(Phellinus igniarius)

Family Meruliaceae (Resupinates & Brackets)

Mycoacia fuscoatra

Mycoacia fuscoatra

Family Polyporaceae: Brackets

Lumpy Bracket (Trametes gibbosa)
Lumpy Bracket
(Trametes gibbosa)
White-rot Fungus (Trametes ochracea)
White-rot Fungus
(Trametes ochracea)
Turkeytail Trametes versicolor
(Trametes versicolor)
Chicken of The Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Chicken of The Woods
(Laetiporus sulphureus)
Dryad's Saddle Polyporus squamosus
Dryad’s Saddle
(Polyporus squamosus)

Family Coniophoraceae

Wet Rot (Coniophora puteana)
Wet Rot
(Coniophora puteana)

Family Stereaceae: Crusts

Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)
Hairy Curtain Crust
(Stereum hirsutum)

Family Auriculariaceae

Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae)
Jelly Ear
(Auricularia auricula-judae)
Crystal Brain Fungus Exidia nucleata
Crystal Brain Fungus (Exidia nucleata)

Family Dermateaceae

Rose Blackspot Diplocarpon rosae
Rose Blackspot
(Diplocarpon rosae)

Family Xylariaceae

Candlesnuff Fungus Xylaria hypoxylon
Stag’s Horn Fungus
(Xylaria hypoxylon)
King Alfred’s Cakes (Daldinia concentrica)
King Alfred’s Cakes
(Daldinia concentrica)