As the leaves drop and days get shorter, what better way to spend an autumn afternoon than looking for fantastic fungi in your local wood.
With names like Slippery Jack, Elf cup, Angel’s bonnet, Dead man’s fingers or Amethyst deceiver you would be forgiven for thinking you were looking for something out of a story book.
According to the Woodland Trust there are over 15,000 types of fungi in the UK, these also include yeasts, moulds and even human infections such as athlete’s foot, but it is mushrooms or toadstools that come into their own in autumn woodlands or grassland.
With the recent wet weather there are many different species of fungi pushing up from the red, orange and brown leaves on the ground, growing out of dead bark or sprouting out at right angles from tree trunks.
Mushrooms (or toadstools) is a term given to the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting bodies that certain fungi produce. These are linked underground by mycelia.
Fungi doesn’t use chlorophyll to convert the sun’s energy into food, it uses enzymes to dissolve plant and animal material.
Fungi (mushrooms) come in all shapes, colours and sizes. Some are edible, some are poisonous, while the rest are inedible or tasteless.
The best way to learn about fungi is on an organised fungi forage, where an expert can show you where to look, how to identify them and which ones are edible.
Take the time to look closely as many are tiny and difficult to spot, but once you start looking, you’ll notice that fungi pop up everywhere.
Just remember not to eat any that you are not 100% sure are not poisonous.