Fascinating New Forest fungi

Fly agaric fungi on the forest floor

In autumn the ancient woodlands and grassy lawns of our New Forest commons are transformed with amazing displays of fungi. The Forest is one of the richest sources of fungi in Europe, which create unique landscapes filled with exotic shapes and colours. Although these fragile fruiting bodies have the highest levels of national and international protection, they are under more risk than ever before.

The New Forest is one of the best places in Europe to see fungi during autumn. It's a stronghold for many rare species, and has over 2,700 different varieties. They form part of the unique ecosystem that makes the Forest a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Thousands of species of insect and invertebrate lay their eggs in the fruiting toadstool of fungi, meaning they form an important role the food chain in the Forest. Fungi also play an important role in delivering minerals and nutrient to plants and trees, forming an amazing symbiotic relationship.

What can be seen above ground is just a hint of what’s happening beneath the surface. The fungal organism comprises of miles of thin white hairs, known as mycelium. These spread out underground within the layers of humus and soil, and work their way up through tree trunks.

The mycelium break down organic matter in the environment, providing food for the fungi and contributing to the recycling of nutrients in woodland ecosystems.

Fungi also make up part of the beautiful and fascinating New Forest environment that millions of people come to see every year. You can experience these incredible fungi landscapes for yourself on one of our downloadable walking trails.

View of autumn heath dotted with silver birch and gorse

Autumn colour walks in the New Forest 

Discover a wealth of autumn colour with a walk in the New Forest: golden leaves, purple heather and fascinating fungi. We've got three very different downloadable trails for you to try, drawing you into some of the Forest's fascinating history, and magnificent ancient landscapes. We encourage everyone to observe social distancing measures while they visit, and follow the Countryside Code to help protect this precious landscape.

Sadly though, there has been an increasing trend of foraging for fungi in the New Forest, which could lead to a negative impact on fungi populations, and the organisms they support. Therefore we don't support or allow fungi picking on any of our New Forest commons. This is in line with our Wild Food Foraging position and the Forestry Commissions policy on fungi picking in the New Forest.

Commercial picking is illegal, so if you suspect or see commercial picking please call our New Forest team on 01425 650035.