Fabulous fungi

Autumn wildlife

Fabulous fungi

© Chris Lawrence

Mushrooms and toadstools

Autumn is the best time to go in search of fungi and you may well be surprised at just how many you find!

Neither plant nor animal, the 15,000 fungi species in the UK make up an entire kingdom of their own. Some are delicious, whilst others are poisonous and every habitat is home to this adaptive organism.

Fungi and trees

The fruiting body that we see above ground is only one small part of a fungi. Underground hides mycelium, a vegetative mass made up of hundreds or even thousands of fine threads that can spread over long distances.

In fact, a honey fungus species with a mycelium network measuring 2.4 miles across in the Blue Mountains in Oregon is thought to be the largest living organism on Earth!

Many fungi species have a symbiotic relationship with plants and trees. Fungi mycelium can capture water and nutrients that are out of reach of plants and trees, bringing them close to their roots. The roots take water and nutrients from the fungi and in return give sugars made during photosynthesis.

Top sites for fungi

Food for though

Whilst some are edible, many fungi species are extremely poisonous and can be hard to tell apart. 

NEVER eat a fungi you find unless you are absolutely sure of its identity. Unless you are with an expert, it is best to leave mushrooms where you find them - that way they will be able to release their spoors and reproduce so others can enjoy their beauty in years to come.

Picking fungi on our reserves

Surrey Wildlife Trust does not allow the picking of fungi on any of our reserves. Many of these sites are ecologically sensitive and have environmental protections in place prohibiting the removal of plants and animals. The removal of mushrooms is particularly damaging as they are the reproductive parts of a fungi, meaning species can be lost if they are over-harvested.