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
Agaricus campestris
Field Mushroom
Agaricus campestris
Shaggy Inkcap Coprinus comatus
Shaggy Inkcap
Coprinus comatus
Parasol Macrolepiota procera
Macrolepiota procera

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

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
Mycena pseudocorticola
Mycena pseudocorticola
Iodine Bonnet (Mycena filopes)
Iodine Bonnet
Mycena filopes

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
Firerug Inkcap Coprinus domesticus
Firerug Inkcap
Coprinus domesticus
Fairy Inkcap Coprinus disseminatus
Fairy Inkcap
Coprinus disseminatus
Pleated Inkcap (Parasola plicatilis)
Pleated Inkcap
(Parasola plicatilis

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
Funeral Bell Galerina marginata
Funeral Bell
Galerina marginata
Golden Scalycap
Pholiota aurivella
Sheathed Woodtuft Kuehneromyces mutabilis
Sheathed Woodtuft
Kuehneromyces mutabilis
Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius
Spectacular Rustgill
Gymnopilus junonius
Sticky Scalycap (Pholiota gummosa)
Sticky Scalycap
Pholiota gummosa
Common Rustgill Gymnopilus penetrans
Common Rustgill
Gymnopilus penetrans

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
Dryad's Saddle Polyporus squamosus
Dryad’s Saddle
Polyporus squamosus
Chicken of The Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Chicken of The Woods
Laetiporus sulphureus

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

Family Pucciniaceae

Juniper Rust
Gymnosporangium sp.
Pear Rust
Gymnosporangium sabinae

Family Melampsoraceae

Melampsora caprearum