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.
Autumn is one of the best seasons to go in search of fungi and this season we would love you to share your sightings of three fungi in particular with us: giant puffball, hoof fungus and the snowy waxcap.
How to spot a giant puffball:
If the fungus is large, white and more or less spherical it is almost certainly a giant puffball. Although much larger specimens have been recorded, most are about the size of a football. The inside is initially white but darkens to become a mass of spores which are liberated when the skin splits.
How to spot a snowy waxcap:
The cap of this waxcap, which measure 2 to 6cm in diameter, is ivory-white, but can be tinged very slightly yellow. The gills are thick and waxy and are widely spaced, and the stipe (stalk) is wavy.
How to spot a hoof fungus:
The hoof fungus can be found growing as a bracket on the trunks of birch trees, and occasionally on other trees. Its fruiting body is hard and shaped like a horse’s hoof, generally no more than 12 cm wide and often almost as deep. The upper surface is normally silvery grey, but can also be brown or almost black. It can be seen on living trees but eventually kills them and persists on their dead trunks.