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The National Trust, mushrooms and toadstools ~ by Chris

The National Trust, mushrooms and toadstools

Mushrooms and toadstools are common at this time of year.  They are the visible evidence of fungi; the fruiting (spore-producing) bodies of fungi growing in the soil, leaf litter, or bark of trees. Nature’s ‘recycling depot’, bacteria and fungi are essential to the decomposition of plant and animal remains. Many local natural history societies organise fungal forays at this time of year, as do a number of the National Trust properties.

At the National Trust web site, there is an excellent guide to the fungi¹ known as Waxcaps. These often appear in lawns and their shiny caps vary considerably in colour – from green to pink! Their colour may change as they age and mature – thus, dry weather seems to make them a bit paler. The pink wax cap (or ballerina) is quite distinctive and is the only bright pink toadstool found in the UK.  There are some 40 different species of Waxcaps in the UK belonging to the genus Hygrocybe. To download the National Trust guide to Waxcaps, go to http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-waxcap_leaflet.pdf . Waxcaps tend to grow best in lawns or grassy areas, where the turf is short, so the surroundings of historic houses and churches are a good place to look, as are cemeteries and parks. It is thought that Waxcaps are in decline (like so much of our flora and fauna) as much of their habitat is being disturbed or being lost through lack of care. The National Trust would appreciate your help in mapping the Waxcaps at their many properties, so if you are visiting a National Trust property consider taking a notebook and pencil to record :-

  • the colour of the toadstool
  • where you saw it
  • when you saw it

And then send them your findings . The results will be used to determine where there are large numbers of waxcaps at National Trust properties, and then these will be targeted by in depth surveys in Autumn 2008. If you’re stuck for ideas for Christmas presents, then have a look at their online shop.

For more detailed information about waxcaps, visit http://www.aber.ac.uk/waxcap/what/index.shtml

For background information on fungi http://www.naturegrid.org.uk/biodiversity/crypfungi.html

¹ What is the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool?

For an answer, have a look at this page on the BBC site where it says “There is no scientific difference between a mushroom and a toadstool; an edible fungus is usually referred to as a mushroom, whereas an inedible one is usually referred to as a toadstool. As with so many aspects of the study of these amazing organisms, however, even this is not always the case.”

Note: there is no simple way to determine which are poisonous and which are edible; knowledge and training are required.

Posted in: Flora & Fauna ~ On: 9 November, 2007

21 comments so far

4 July, 2013

Hi, I used to pick a lot of edible mushrooms when i lived in west sussex, (ceps, horn of plenty, chanterelles, morilles etc…) with the season fast approaching i will be looking for spots around London. Anyone one wanting to join in please get in touch. Thank you.

30 October, 2012

SLBI , Norwood Road, between Tulse Hill and Herne Hill (http://www.slbi.org.uk/ ) often runs a fungal foray, but usually in early / mid October.

Anna Martin
30 October, 2012

Are there any edible mushroom forays in Bromley or Beckenham this Autumn (2012)

16 September, 2012

As it says above
Note: there is no simple way to determine which are poisonous and which are edible; knowledge and training are required.
It is better to be safe than sorry.

see also http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19637611

16 September, 2012

i have a red n white toadstool mushroom on my back garden n have children do i remove it, is it poisonous?

5 October, 2011

Hi, my house backs onto Hankley Common near Farnham and the woods and our garden are full of mushrooms. I’ve bought a book but am too nervous to try them. Does anyone know of any foraging events coming up in this area?

4 September, 2011

4 September, 2011

Hi, I live in Bromley, Kent. Looking for woodland where I could find mushroom and enjoy walking.
Please advise.

14 July, 2011

… hey there
im very interested to know what this mushroom is called.. and is it poisonous or edible.. if there is anyone out there who could help me i would greatly appreciate their knowledge.

or if anyone could point me in the right direction.. eg.. books, websites, ect..
many thanks

7 October, 2010

I found a small green coloured mushroom while out walking my dog on the hills. but I can seem to find out what it is called, anyone know

1 March, 2010

I too am looking for a mushroom foraging course in East Sussex. I live near Lewes and am keen, but really not sure what I am looking for.
Thanks Chris for the FSC link above, however all their courses are a fair distance away.

27 November, 2009

I love the whole expearience of wild fungi. not only is there the eating, but the fun finding and identifying as well. ive been doing it for the last 2 years and i must say its my new passion. anyone got tips on finding the king bolete(pocini,cep,penny bun)

25 September, 2008

Have you had a look to see what the Field Studies Council has on offer ?

22 September, 2008

I am looking for a one day course, in woodlands, on identifying mushrooms.
I live near Tunbridge Wells on the Kent/East Sussex border. Can anyone tell me of where to go please?

22 March, 2008

I am doing a project for my Botany class, i want to film Toadstools/mushrooms popping up out of the ground.. the thing is i dont know how to grow my own, or how long it takes. All I know is that one day they are not here and the next they are.. If some one could help me i would really appericate it. Rook at [email protected] I need to know how to grow them, how long it takes, and how long the life span are.

Tracy Pepler
8 December, 2007

Would someone very clever please look here


My friends forum, and see if you can id the mushrooms?


14 November, 2007

i think tom you need to get to know them and in time you more than likely will build up a trust but be patient. First try them with a good fry up and then experiment with them in other ways and hey youll be saying what have i been doing for the last 19 years of my life !

14 November, 2007


13 November, 2007

Yeah, I don’t trust mushrooms myself…

Tracy Pepler
13 November, 2007

I went on a Woodland mushroom course and apparently one of the most important things, is that you must cook mushrooms, even the shop ones. We can’t digest them.
The shop ones are not very good for us, but woodland ones like Oyster and Shittake are. They are high in Nova Statins (which lower cholestoral) and vitamin B12 which is otherwise only found in animals…..

11 November, 2007

Many people are afraid of eating wild mushrooms – but simply by teaching yourself a couple of edible sorts that don’t resemble any dangerous ones you can eat mushrooms quite safely.

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