Posted 9th October
Image courtesy of © Philip Precey
Did you know there are more than 15,000 species of fungi that are believed to exist in the United Kingdom?
That's five times as many species as there are vascular plants, ensuring fungi make up an entire kingdom of their own, separate from both plants and animals. Their diversity is stupendous, with every habitat home to a great variety of fungi, the majority of which will have truly wonderful names – for instance Chickens of the woods and King Alfred's cakes, pink ballerinas and scarlet elf cups, blewits and boletes.
Fungi not only include many delicious wild mushrooms, but also some of our most poisonous varieties, which are aptly named species as the sickener, poison pie, death cap and the destroying angel.
Autumn is the best time to explore this little-visited world - you could be surprised by just how many species you find.
How to do it
One thing you should never do it eat any fungi unless you are 100 per cent certain about their identity. Unless you are with an expert, it's best to leave mushrooms where you find them - that way others can appreciate their beauty. There will be many local Wildlife Trusts that run 'fungal foray' events, during the year. V
If you can't get to the special places listed below, fungi will grow in every habitat, and you won't have to go to a nature reserve to find your first toadstool. There are likely to be several species in your garden as it is. Encourage the fungi to grow by leaving logs and branches to rot, and then wait to see what arrives - in the process you'll help beetles too.
Slimy, but colourful, the beautiful waxcap fungi adorn grasslands every autumn at Burfa Bog near Presteigne, Powys. Around 20 species of this group of fungi have been recorded here, making it one of the most important places in Europe for this group of organisms.
Powys, Dolforwyn Woods
Suffolk, Knettishall Heath
Yorkshire, Grass Wood
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts
Win! A set three pocket squares worth £50!