Mud and mushrooms trail at Polesden Lacey

Fungi growing on a tree trunk

The mushroom kingdom is full of peculiar caps, quirky growths and bizarre names. Get your wellies on, wrap up warm and check out our brand new fungi walk.

Download the 'Mud and mushrooms' activity sheet and map here.

Below, you can find fascinating facts about fungi before your visit, or even bring this article along with you.

Where can you find fungi?

Mushrooms (or toadstools) can be found almost anywhere, but they love to grow in damp and dark places best. Look for them on dead tree stumps, fallen wood, hollows in living trees and around the base of tree trunks.

The estate is full of fungi in autumn
Autumn fungi on the estate
The estate is full of fungi in autumn

Weird or wonderful?

When out on a fungi hunt, you'll come across some really cool varieties with spectacular colours and unusual shapes. Can you imagine what Polesden Lacey's Magpie Inkcap might look like? 

Some kinds of fungi are completely safe and delicious when cooked, while others can be extremely poisonous to humans and animals. You don’t get names like Death Cap for being the friendliest mushroom in the forest. Remember, never touch or taste any of the fungi as lots are poisonous.

Where fairies fly

On your fungi adventures, you may be lucky enough to find a circle of mushrooms.

Through the ages, people have called these ‘fairy rings’ and have told stories of the mythical creatures dancing around the toadstools. It is believed that you can walk through the door to the fairy world if you step inside the circle. Do you dare to enter?

The iconic red and white fairy tale fungi Fly agaric
Red and white Fly agaric fungi growing among fallen leaves
The iconic red and white fairy tale fungi Fly agaric

What mushrooms can you spot at Polesden Lacey?

Chicken of the Woods

This bold, creamy yellow and orange fungus grows from the trunks of oak, cherry, sweet chestnut and poisonous yew trees. As the name suggests, some people find its taste oddly familiar, a little like chicken!

Chicken of the woods fungus
Chicken of the woods fungus
Chicken of the woods fungus

King Alfred's Cakes

What a perculiar name. Look for black, hard globular growths on dead wood. It was traditionally used as kindling to light fires many years ago.

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

 

Sulphur Tuft

A very common autumn mushroom that you're bound to see in every foray into the woods. A yellow to pale-brown colour, they can be found growing in tight clusters, often horizontally outwards from the tree trunk.

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

Fly agaric

A beautiful red mushroom with white spots, perhaps the most iconic of the toadstool species suggestive of bewitched woods, far away castles and, of course, fairies.

Close up of a Fly agaric toadstool in the woods
Close up of a Fly agaric toadstool in the woods
Close up of a Fly agaric toadstool in the woods

You can download our fungi foray map and activity sheet here. for lots more mushrooms you can spot at Polesden Lacey.