Fungi foray

Autumn means fallen leaves, flamboyant colours, fresh cool air – and fungi! Here are some of the most brilliant and bizarre mushrooms to look out for on your next woodland walk.

Did you know?

There are two main groups of fungi: spore droppers and spore shooters. Spore droppers usually have gills or tubes underneath, where they let their spores fall to the ground to be carried by the wind - they’re more likely to be a typical mushroom shape. Spore shooters on the other hand – you guessed it – release their spores by shooting them into the air!
 

Scarlet elf cup (c) Sally Henderson

Scarlet elf cup

This is a small species, that can be easily overlooked; but its bright red colour means that if you look for it, you will see it in most places.
 

Ochre brittlegill

Ochre brittlegill

This lovely yellow fungus is just one from the rainbow brittlegill family; you can see brittlegills in a variety of colours from bright yellow, to red and burgundy.
 

Honey fungus (c) Sally Henderson

Honey fungus

This fungus is much maligned by gardeners, as it is associated with killing trees. However, it actually performs an important job in woodlands by killing off weak trees and creating deadwood – a vital habitat for insects and other fungi.
 

Brown birch bolete (c) Sally Henderson

Brown birch bolete

As the name suggests this fungus is often found growing on or around birch trees. It is edible, but take extreme caution and only forage with a trained professional’s supervision.
 

Artist's bracket (c) Sally Henderson

Artist’s bracket

These large flat fungi are common on dead trees, and are so named as they are used by artists to draw on - like a natural canvas!
 

Puffball (c) Sally Henderson

Common puffball

This cute little mushroom is also known as the warted puffball, gem-studded puffball, wolf farts and the devil’s snuff-box.
 

Fly agaric (c) Sally Henderson

Fly agaric

This beautiful fairy-tale mushroom may look as pretty as a pixie’s toadstool, but it’s actually poisonous – so look but don’t touch!
 

Brown rollrim (c) Sally Henderson

Brown rollrim

This delicate mushroom is named after its distinctive rolled rim. Though it was regularly eaten up until the Second World War, it is now considered toxic so look but don’t touch!
 

Jelly ear (c) Sally Henderson

Jelly ear

As the name suggests, these strange fungi look like little ears growing on decaying branches. They’re popular in Chinese cuisine where they’re referred to as ‘wood ear’ mushrooms.
 

Blackening waxcap (c) Sally Henderson

Blackening waxcap

Also known as the witch’s hat due to its conical shape, this fungus is a colourful species that grows in grassland and turns black with age.
 

All illustrations by Sally Henderson, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Design Studio.