Autumn means morning dew, bejewelled spider webs, ruby and gold leaves, smoky breath on the air and wild mushrooms.
There is no real difference between mushrooms and toadstools. Both can be delicious and both can be poisonous.
Great care must be taken when gathering mushrooms for the kitchen.
Personally there are a handful of species I like to pick if there are enough to spare a few. Parasols, such as these Shaggy Parasols and Ink Caps, also known as Lawyers’ Wigs, are both safe enough if you are confident of their identification.
However, a deal of study or tutoring is required before anyone should pick and eat wild fungi, as many edible species have poisonous lookalikes.
I am usually content to admire fungi in situ, maybe photograph them for later identification, but then leave them to spore and spread. However, finding fungi in the first place is not always so easy. Many types love to grow beneath leaf litter or under the impenetrable protection of bramble bowers .
Unlike green plants they have no need of sunlight. Indeed dull and damp habitats suit them very well.
Hidden or not, fungi are well worth seeking out just for the sake of their great variety of form and colour.
I photograph them for the natural pictures they create alongside black brambles, fallen red or gold leaves, or simply the way they stand out pale in some dark ivy bower.
There is, of course, no need to name them if you have no intention of eating them. Simply seek them out to admire them. But beware of getting hooked. There are the weird and wonderful, the rare and the puzzling, all of them hiding and challenging you to find them.
Fungi can be fun, but they can also be frustrating!
George Hogg, Hogg Estate Services, Wildlife Management