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.

 

 

Fly agaric

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.

Step into a wood and you'll be surrounded by fungi
Step into a wood and you'll be surrounded by fungi
Step into a wood and you'll be surrounded by fungi

Where to find it:  Headley Heath, Abinger Roughs, Frensham Litle Pond, Limpsfield Common

 

Candlesnuff

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.

The delicate fingers of the candle snuff fungi
delicate black and white wispy fingers of the candle snuff fungi sticking up out of a piece of rotten wood
The delicate fingers of the candle snuff fungi

Where to find it: Box Hill, Headley Heath, Abinger Roughs, Limpsfield Common, Bookham Commons, Holmwood Common.

 

Shaggy inkcap

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.   

Ink from the Shaggy inkcap was used for legal contracts in the past
Ink from the Shaggy inkcap was used for legal contracts in the past
Ink from the Shaggy inkcap was used for legal contracts in the past

Where to find it: Bookham Commons, Headley Heath, Holmwood Common, Abinger Roughs and Denbies Hillside.

 

Earthball

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.

Look out for the earthball in our woods
Look out for the earthball in our woods
Look out for the earthball in our woods

Where to find it: Headley Heath, Witley and Milford Commons, Abinger Roughs, Limpsfield Common

 

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.

Blackened bumps of the King Alfred's Cake fungi on dead wood
Blackened bumps of the King Alfred's Cake fungi on dead wood
Blackened bumps of the King Alfred's Cake fungi on dead wood

Where to find them: Abinger Roughs, Headley Heath, Holmwood Common, Denbies Hillside, Limpsfield Common, Witley and Milford Commons 

 

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.  

Look out for chicken in the woods fungi in our woodlands
Look out for chicken in the woods fungi in our woodlands
Look out for chicken in the woods fungi in our woodlands

Where to find it: Bookham Commons, Box Hill, Witley and Milford Commons, Headley Heath, Limpsfield Common 

 

Scarlet elfcap

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.

Vivid red colour of Scarlet Elf Cup fungi on rotting wood

Where to find them: Holmwood Common, Witley and Milford Commons, Bookham Common and Outwood Common

 

Sulphur Tuft

Bright yellow groups of small toadstools which pop up as large colonies on stumps, logs and diseased trees. They look very soft like bright natural cushions.

Colonies of sulphur tuft pop up in damp woodland
Colonies of sulphur tuft pop up in damp woodland
Colonies of sulphur tuft pop up in damp woodland