Fun with fungi

The National Forest. Close-up of group of mushrooms. Fungi species unsure. Autumn. Leicestershire, UK. November 2010. -

Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Hertfordshire and Middlesex are full of fungi if you know where to look, and now is the best time to get out and investigate. Find out where to find them in our reserves.

Please do not pick fungi in our nature reserves; they are valuable to wildlife and can be deadly when misidentified and eaten.

Fungi are natural ‘recyclers’: by feeding on dead organic matter, they release nutrients back into the environment. They also support plant life on poor soils by aiding nutrient absorption through plant roots. This role is vital in the food chain of many different habitats – without fungi, the natural world could not function.

Fungi fun facts

  • Before trees, Earth was home to fungi that grew 26 feet tall.
  • Estimates of the world’s number of fungal species run into the millions, outnumbering all other known living organisms put together - in the UK, there are over 4,000 larger fungi species.
  • Orchids cannot germinate without the help of fungi.
  • Mushrooms can release up to 2.7 billion spores a day.
  • It is possible for some mushroom spores to be dormant for a hundred years and then grow successfully into mushrooms.
  • A fungus known as the honey fungus is the largest living organism on the planet. It is believed to be about 2,400 years old and covers over 2,000 acres.

 

Where to find fungi 

Old Park Wood in autumn

Old Park Wood © Frieda Rummenhohl

Old Park Wood

Possibly the most varied piece of woodland in Middlesex, Old Park Wood is a fantastic place to discover fungi in peace and quiet.

Look out for Jelly Ear and King Alfred's Cake. 

Where is it?
Harefield, Middlesex
UB9 6UX

Visit Old Park Wood
Gobions Wood Nature Reserve

Gobions Wood Nature Reserve © Amy Lewis

Gobions Wood

A fungus haven! 558 species have been found - over 100 of which are rare or scarce in Hertfordshire.

Look out for - or sniff out for - the stinkhorn or the oyster mushroom. 

Where is it?
Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
AL9 7AF

Visit Gobions Wood
Danemead Nature Reserve

© Charlotte Hussey

Danemead

Surrounded by rich history, this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) contains important oak hornbeam woodland and a damp meadow in its centre - making it valuable for wildlife.

Look out for the Hairy curtain crust or chicken of the woods.

Where is it?
Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire
EN11 8GG

Visit Danemead
Hertford Heath

© Josh Kubale

Hertford Heath

A nature reserve split into two sites – The Roundings, a rare Hertfordshire open heathland, and Goldingtons, an area of mixed secondary woodland.

Look out for Wood woolyfoot or the tiny twig parachute

Where is it?
Hertford, Hertfordshire
SG13 7PW

Visit Hertford Heath
Frogmore Meadow Nature Reserve

Frogmore Meadow

A rare lowland meadow, set in the beautiful Chess Valley, Frogmore Meadow is a beautiful open grassland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), supporting a variety of species.

Look out for waxcap.

Where is it?
Chenies, Hertfordshire
WD3 6ER

Visit Frogmore Meadow