On All Hallow’s Eve what better way to celebrate the cycle of death and renewal than go looking for fungi? They are nature’s great recyclers; many of them are saprophytes that feed on dying plants and animals, making their nutrients available for next generation of life.
Last week I joined the autumn fungi walk led by by Micheal ‘Ziggy’ Senkans, Biodiversity Officer at Sheffield City Council around the fields and woodland of Waterthorpe Meadow in Beighton. Fungi are their most visible later in the year as herbaceous plants die back and deciduous trees lose their leaves.
As a whole different order of life from plants and trees, it has taken me years to develop an eye for identifying fungi. It is still a work in process but as my confidence grows I have been able to forage a few edible mushrooms this year, which feels like an achievement.
Caution is needed at all times. Start with the assumption that all fungi are poisonous. Especially if they are red, have a wavy collar or ‘skirt’ at the top of the stem or feature an egg sac at the base.
All the fungi featured on this page have been identified by an expert. Please do not use this article as the sole means of identifying any fungi you may find, especially if you intend to eat them. People die each year after mistaking edible mushrooms for deadly ones. Be safe!