October is a great time to be walking in the forest. The trees have pulled on their autumn coats, the leaves have started to carpet the forest floor and the air is a little damp – in fact, all the right conditions for fungus to appear.
If you’re looking for something to do with the family this October, pull on your wellies and join us in celebrating UK Fungus Day. Use our bingo checklist below to see how many varieties you can tick off in the forest this autumn.
Ready? Come on then, we’re going on a fungi hunt!
Remember – fungi are lovely to look at, but aren’t always safe to touch. Please take photos, but leave the fungi where you find them.
A simple one to spot, lichen grows on tree bark and exposed rock. It’s not just one simple plant – lichen comes in many colours and varieties, so you’ll see plenty of examples of this as you walk through the woodland.
Some are bushy while others lie flatter, forming crusts. However, we’re sure you’ll spot some common orange lichen through the woods.
Ink cap mushrooms
As these species mature they dissolve into a puddle of black liquid – hence the name. Until that point you’ll find them near to rotting tree stumps.
Dead man’s fingers
An interesting name for this one, and it’s easy to see why. This dark fungus grows on dead and decaying wood, and the body varies from round to long and finger-like.
A common mushroom in the UK, this delicate looking specimen grows well on trunks and the branches of broadleaf trees that have been uprooted. It grows up to about 2.5 cm across the cap.
Stag’s horn fungus
Also known as the candlestick fungus, the branched antlers of this fungus are often either yellow, or black with a white tip.
Ask any child to draw a fairy toadstool and they will, more than likely, create something like a fly agaric, with its characteristic red cap and white spots.
Puffballs are one of the easiest mushrooms to spot. Instead of a cap, they have a round fruit and spread their spores by puffing them out in a cloud of brown smoke. Although edible, it’s easy to confuse these with earthballs, which are poisonous. So, it’s best to look but not touch.
This particularly beautiful fungus contains an array of stripes that mimic a turkey’s tail feathers. It’s been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and researchers have found that it helps boost the immune system. You’ll find plenty of these in the forest.
While a fairy ring is not related to a single type of mushroom, we think it’s worth a bonus point on any fungi hunt. Fairy rings are created where a dense layer of fungal strands have formed below the topsoil, causing mushrooms to grow on the outer edge where there are more nutrients in the soil. However, we prefer to think they are completely magical spots where the fairies come to dance. See how many you can find in the forest, and send us your pictures. But remember, you mustn’t step into the ring, or you might be carried off…
There are thousands of varieties of fungi, and we’ve only touched on some of the many you’ll see as you walk the woodland trails. You might not get the full house but while you’re out and about on your fungi hunt, see just how many you can identify and share your pictures with us.
Join us for an autumn getaway and find out more intriguing fungi facts on a Forest Ranger adventure. Discover too, a whole host of other great family activities to do in the forest.