Fabulous fungi in the Surrey Hills
Fungi appear miraculously pushing up through soil and leaf litter in our woodlands in autumn, especially after rain. There’s a whole array of different colours and shapes and they add interest to any walk at this time of year.
Here we have highlighted some of our favourite mushrooms and toadstools that can be found across the Surrey Hills. Which is the great survivor, which one looks like a potato? See if you can spot any (or even all) of the species listed here. Also go out on your own photographic fungi safari - snap what you can and then check out identification details on the web.
Remember - some mushrooms are edible but some are poisonous - do not eat unless you are absolutely sure. Also it’s always best to wash your hands after you have been handling fungi.
This is the classic toadstool - red or orange with white sport on top with white gills underneath. Look for them among birch, pine or spruce trees on light sandy soils. Be aware that these are poisonous, so do not eat.
Very small, sometimes tiny, whitish-grey growths, looking like antlers or snuffed-out candlewick. It can be found on dead and rotting wood, ofen seen emerging through moss in a damp deciduous woodland.
Tallish, shaggy bell-shaped and whitish toadstool which appears in pasture and grassland. They particularly like disturbed soil, so look along bridle and footpaths. Many historic documents and legal contracts were written in the ink from these toadstools as it doesn't fade.
It looks like a warty potato, round and dirty brown. It likes acidic and mossy or peaty ground on heaths and woodlands. As it ripens, a hole forms at the top and when raindrops fall on on the skin, thousands of spores will be thrown out of the top. Be careful about handling it as it is poisonous.
King Alfred's cakes
There are black, hard and rounded lumps growing on the dead or dying wood of deciduous trees, such as birch, beech and ash. They can survive for years since, unlike most fungi, they don't rot away. In the past they were used as tinder for lighting fires.
Chicken in the woods
This bright creamy yellow fungus has a very distinctive crinkly shape. It is a bracket fungus that grows out from the tree trunks of hard woods such as oak, yew, cherry, sweet chestnut and willow.
One of the prettiest fungi to be found, these are bright scarlet cups with a white outer edge. Although they are tiny - only a few centimeters in diameter, they can form large colonies with a standout colour. They appear in late winter and early spring among damp areas of decaying wood, especially hazel, beech and willow. They are more likely to be found at woodland edges rather than the centre.