Surveying Fungi

Fly agaric photo by Peter Dent 1/3
Common earthball photo by Peter Read 2/3
Parasol mushroom photo by Bob Greef 3/3

Fungi are intriguing and many people who delve into their world become quite passionate about this mysterious group. Flick through a book on fungi and names such as tawny grisette, amethyst deceiver, skullcap dapperling and slippery jack will jump off the pages. In Britain there may be as many as 10,000 different fungi, of which approximately 3,000 can be found in Norfolk. The key to fungi identification is not to become overwhelmed and to start with the basics.

Have you got a real passion fungi? 

Reg and Lil Evans were mycologists who retired to Norfolk in 1978. Their passion for fungi inspired many people and their recording keeping was particularly impressive.

Reg Evans collected over 35,000 fungi records. He recorded each species he found in the county on a separate card – 1,700 of them in total. Sadly Reg died in 2002, but his passion and enthusiasm for fungi lives on through the Fungus Study Group which hed helped establish.

Food for thought…

Death cap, fly agaric and destroying angel are just three poisonous fungi. There are more out there and for this reason it cannot be stressed enough how important it is not to eat fungi unless you are 100% certain you have identified it correctly as an edible species.

Have you got a fungus-rich grassland in your back garden?

‘Good’ fungus grassland is likely to be:
  • Unfertilised so that plants other than grasses are abundant, and it does not look ‘lush’
  • Regularly mown (for example domestic lawns, churchyards) or rabbit-grazed
  • Well-established (but some fungus-rich grasslands are surprisingly young)

Please flag-up potentially interesting sites if you record two or more of the following species:

  1. Any waxcap species (count one for each species)
  2. Any yellow or white spindle fungi not on wood (count one for each species)
  3. Any earthtongue species
  4. Either of the pinkgill fungi – big blue pinkgill or blue edge pinkgill (count one for each species)

Email Norfolk Wildlife Trust at or telephone us on 01603 598333.

Why not start a simple survey today?

Initially fungus identification does not need any specialist equipment (as you learn more about fungi you will find that some species can only be identified to species level using a microscope), so for someone starting out who would like to delve into fungus identification you may find the following equipment useful.



Identification book – See this link for some books we would recommend.

A notebook – To help with later identification you may want to record details in a notebook. Ask yourself these questions:
  • What is it growing near or on?
  • What size is the fungus?
  • Is it growing on its own or in a cluster?
  • Does the fungus have a particular smell?
  • Are there liquid droplets on gills or pores?
  • Does it ooze latex (milk) when the cap or gills are broken?
Basket or plastic/cardboard tray – Fungi can become a mushy mess very quickly in a plastic bag, so you should use a basket or tray if you are collect them to identify back at home. Fungi can usually be stored for 24 hours or more in a sealed container in a fridge, but to find out how to dry fungi for later examination by an expert contact NWT's Wildlife Information Service.

Knife – If you need to remove fungi from a site so you can identify them at a later date use a knife, but make sure you include the base (which may be important for identification).

Digital camera – A good image can help you identify the species later and you can also use the pictures to seek confirmation and advice from experts.


A little goes a long way…

Take an identification guide out with you, so you can try and identify the fungi in situ, but if you do need to take the fungi home to identify remember…

Never collect more specimens than you need – over collecting may have a damaging impact.

Be aware that you may not be allowed to collect fungi from certain places without asking permission.


Need some inspiration?

Discover just some of the fungus surveys people have been carrying out in Norfolk.   

Would you like to tell us about your fungus survey? Click here.

Download Fungus Survey Forms here.

Fungus Survey Form (Survey Form I)

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
Microsoft Word document

Please remember to send your completed survey forms to Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS)– make your records count!
Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service
Planning and Transportation Department
County Hall
Martineau Lane

Email :
Website: NBIS

How to photograph fungi for identification


Many people take photographs of fungi from above looking down – a bird’s eye view – which may create an interesting image, but unfortunately it does not capture the information needed to identify the fungus. Instead:

  • Pick the fungus
  • Place it on a plain background (preferably not black or white as this may cause the photograph to be over or under exposed)
  • Take a photograph of the underside, so you can see the gills
  • Take a photograph showing the cap
  • Take a photograph showing the cap and stem
  • If there is more than one specimen take a photograph of a few of them
Once you have taken your images upload them here or email them to along with the following information:
  • Approximate size
  • Where it was found
  • A description of the habitat
  • Nearest tree species (if nearby)
  • Grouping (was it on its own or in a cluster?)
  • Did any latex (milk) appear when the flesh was broken?
  • Smell (if distinctive)

Need to brush up on your fungi

To get details of fungus workshops and walks in Norfolk check out our event section.

Would you like to arrange a fungus identification workshop in your parish? You can always contact NWT's Wildlife Information Service on 01603 598333 for recommendations of an expert who, for a small fee, would be willing to run a workshop or a fungus foray.