Mycena pura

Photographs and Text by Peter Comber


FLY AGARIC Amanita muscaria

DEATH'S CAP Amanita phalloides

FALSE DEATH'S CAP Amanita citrina

Of the many hundreds of different fungus fruit bodies that can be found in Hainault Forest in the Autumn, the one you are most likely to notice is the Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria. Some years it is very common and always appears under Birch. It is one of many that have a mycorrhizal attachment with specific native trees. Both the tree and the fungus benefit from this symbiotic relationship. The Fly Agaric is closely related to the deadly poisonous Death's Cap Amanita phalloides which fortunately for us is rather rare. The False Death's Cap Amanita citrina is common but not poisonous. It is a solitary species and grows in the older parts of the woodland.

BUTTER CAP Collybia butyracea


Laccaria amethystea

CLOUDED AGARIC Clitocybe nebularis

The Butter Cap Collybia butyracea, with its 'greasy' cap is common throughout the woodland. Another colourful species is the Amethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystea, the deep violet colour is most intense in wet weather. The Deceiver Laccaria laccata is similar but reddish-brown in colour, both are common. Later in the season the Clouded Agaric Clitocybe nebularis will appear. It can be quite large, up to 10" (25cm.) across, and can often be seen in a large ring.


Xerocomus chrysenteron


Leccinum scabrum

The colourful Xerocamus versicolor

Most ground growing species have gills under their caps, but some have pores. The most common of these is the Red Cracking Boletus Xerocomus chrysenteron. Growing under Birch is the Brown Birch Bolete Leccinum scabrum, an edible species. One of the best edible 'boletes' is the Penny Bun or Cep Boletus edulis. It is associated with young oaks in Hainault, but is not very common. Some are quite colourful, such as Xerocomus versicolor, but it is rare and found in the older woodland.


Lycoperdon perlatum


Phallus impudicus

'Egg' of Stinkhorn. Vertical section.

Photo: Brian Ecott.

The Common Puffball Lycoperdon perlatum lives up to its name. It is one puffball most likely to be found growing in a group. When ripe, the spore discharge is very visible when it is disturbed. (See foot of page). Fungus fruit bodies are very diverse, none more so than the Common Stinkhorn Phallus impudicus. Its distinctive foetid smell is smelled before it is found. It expands quickly from an 'egg' and is loved by flies, the method by which its spores are distributed. The Common Helvella Helvella crispa (see foot of page) was quite common in 1992.

SULPHUR TUFT Hypholoma fasciculare

Delicate Mycena filopes

Bracket  Bjerkandera adusta

Many fungi are saprophytic, and inhabit dead wood - it's natures way of disposing of dead organic debris. The Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare is an attractive species growing in large numbers, often completely covering a stump. With a similar habitat the more delicate Mycena's such as Mycena filopes are common. Small bracket fungi abound on fallen timber etc. Typical is Bjerkandera adusta, a common one, as is the orange coloured Hairy Stereum Stereum hirsutum just two of many similar species.

JEW'S EAR Auricularia auricula-judae

BEEFSTEAK FUNGUS Fistulina hepatica


Xylaria polymorpha

The 'rubbery' Jew's Ear fungus Auricularia auricula-judae is edible and occurs on Hornbeam or Elder. Larger brackets include the Beefsteak fungus Fistulina hepatica which feeds on the heartwood of Oak trees. It is edible but definitely an acquired taste! All the old Birch trees eventually succumb to the very common Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus (see foot of page). It is also known as the Razor Strop Fungus. Dead Man's Fingers Xylaria polymorpha grows on stumps. It is easy to see where it gets its name.

CLUB FUNGUS Clavulinopsis helvola


Marasmius oreades

Fairy ring in the grassland

Grassland species occur in the open areas, particularly in wet spells. Club fungi such as Clavulinopsis helvola can appear in large numbers. The Fairy Ring Fungus Marasmius oreades is common and grows in distinctive rings in the meadow east of the lake. The rings are up to 60 years old, and are mostly about 2 metres in diameter. They increase in size every year by a few centimetres.

Coprinus atramentarius

Coprinus lagopides

HONEY FUNGUS Armillaria mellea

Common Ink Cap Coprinus atramentarius grows clustered on the ground in woods etc. from buried wood. It gets its name because it deliquesces into an inky mess. Edible when young but can cause alarming symptoms when eaten with alcohol. Another ink cap Coprinus lagopides, is found on burnt wood and bonfire sites. It does not fully deliquesce. There are several short lived delicate species of ink caps closely resembling this one.  Honey fungus Armillaria mellea, so dreaded by gardeners, is common and very aggressive in nature. It can attack any tree with fatal consequences.

Hericium cirrhatus on beech trunk

Cortinarius puniceus in ancient woodland

Stropharia aurantiaca on horse ride

With some of Hainault being ancient woodland, rare species are bound to turn up from time to time. A few that have been identified are: Hericium cirrhatus with soft spines, growing on a beech trunk brought down in the 1987 gales. Cortinarius puniceus is an all crimson ground species that grows in ancient woodland. Stropharia aurantica was found growing on a horse ride..

EARTH STAR Geastrum triplex

Podoscypha multizonata

Very rare Leucoagaricus meleagris

Earth Star Geastrum triplex is unusual in Hainault. Podoscypha multizonata looks anything but a fungus! Found in Hainault Lodge, it has since been found elsewhere. The very rare Leucoagaricus meleagris found growing on wood chip animal bedding is a species normally found in much warmer climates. It requires a high temperature to grow and produce fruit bodies.

COMMON HELVELLA Helvella crispa Photo: Iris Newbery

BIRCH POLYPORE Piptoporus betulinus

Spore discharge of Common Puffball