UK Fungus Days – 10th/11th October
This is the perfect time of year to get out into your local woodlands and go mushroom hunting…and the weather is creating the ideal conditions!
This years’ UK Fungus Day is on 11th October but there are events organised throughout the month for you to go along to.
October is the best month to see fungi of all shapes and sizes – we’re still having warm late summer days, a bit of rain here and there and most importantly, the nights are getting colder (this is what causes fungi to send up their fruiting bodies, or the ‘mushroom’ bit that we recognise)
So whilst the weather’s good, get out there with the kids and/or the dog and go on a fungi foray. Before you set off though, there are a few things you need to know:
- Where to look – damp woodland areas are the best places to look. Most fungi have what is called a ‘symbiotic’ relationship with trees whereby their root system (mycelium) are in contact with the roots of trees. So the base of trees, patches of old leaf litter on the woodland floor and any fallen trees or branches in the process of rotting down are all good places to start looking. Don’t forget to look upwards as well though – some fungi grow on the trunk and branches of living trees.
- What to wear – considering that the best places to look are damp woodlands, you need to dress sensibly! Wear a good pair of walking boots (preferably waterproof), wellies for the kids, some kind of implement for pushing brambles and nettles aside, such as an umbrella, walking stick or even a stick from the woodland floor and maybe consider investing in some latex or rubber gloves if you’re going to be touching the mushrooms. (See the next point).
- How to stay safe – NEVER eat mushrooms you find in a woodland, even if you’ve got a mushroom identification book with you, even if you’re convinced you know what it is – they can be sneaky little blighters and there’s a reason lots of the common names start with the word “False” as they are masters of disguise! The safest way to mushroom hunt is to remember what your mum told you: “You look with your eyes, not your hands”! Take photographs, roll them over with a stick to see the underside, wear gloves if you really want to touch or hold one, take hand wipes or hand cleaning gel in case you’ve touched them by accident, but mostly – be sensible!
- How to stay legal – The Theft Act 1968, for England and Wales, states that:“A person who picks mushrooms growing wild on any land, or who picks flowers, fruit or foliage from a plant growing wild on any land, does not (although not in possession of the land) steal what he picks, unless he does it for reward or for sale or other commercial purpose.”
So as long as you’re not trespassing on private land, you can pick mushrooms, as long as you’re not going to sell them. However, there could be local bye-laws preventing foraging put in place by agencies such as English Heritage, National Trust or local councils – they have to display signs to notify you of this so keep your eyes open.
There’s also the issue of endangered species or threatened habitat covered by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as some fungi are protected because they are rare.
However, the whole point of this is to encourage you to go out and look at fungi, safely and legally, so the best way is to leave them where you find them and just appreciate nature in its setting!
If you want to get more involved, there are events up and down the country aimed at revealing the secret world of fungi to you and the best place to look for information is on the UK Fungus Day website so click on the following link to find organised events in your area: UK Fungus Day