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New Forest Fungi - look but please don't pickA SPECIES OF MYCENA FUNGUS ON ROTTING WOOD. NEW FOREST FP.

Fungi are essential to the New Forest ecosystem, so we are appealing to people to look, but please don’t pick.

The New Forest National Park is internationally important for wildlife and is covered by local, national and international designations. The New Forest Crown lands, managed by the Forestry Commission make up about half of the area of the National Park and the majority of the New Forest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).The SSSI is designated in part for its’ interesting fungi and is a stronghold for many rare and endangered species.

They are often thought of as being plants, but some experts say they are closer to being animals.

In fact fungi are in a kingdom all of their own. There are at least 70,000 species world wide, approximately 12,000 in the UK and 2,700 in the New Forest.

Most fungi have the same basic structure - thread like hyphae, which form a web or mycelium - these webs are present in the soil and in the trees around us all the time - then the fruiting body (the ‘mushroom’ or ‘toadstool’) - which is the bit we see - when conditions are right.  Autumn is usually the time to see the fruiting bodies, when a mixture of wet but mild weather will provide ideal conditions.

What do fungi do?

Fungi cannot make their own food using energyFLY AGARIC (Amanita muscaria). BUCHAN FD from sunlight, but grow by absorbing food and water from their surroundings – most importantly from living and dead plants and animals.

They are nature’s recyclers - without saprophytic fungi the world would be covered in dead plants and animals.

Many fungi live with trees and other plants. This is known as a mycorhizal association (from the Greek myco – fungus, rhiza – root). The fungi help the plant take up more nutrients by increasing the effective surface area of the roots, and in turn take some sugars from the plant.

This relationship is common in the woodland fungi such as the amanitas, russulas, boletus and lactarius. Certain species will only grow with certain trees (a useful help in identifying the fungi). Trees certainly grow less well without fungi.

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Amethyst deceiver Laccaria amethysteaFungi Code for the New Forest:

The New Forest is a wonderful place to see fungi, a stronghold for many rare species and even some still being discovered that are new to science.

Fungi are essential to the New Forest’s ecosystem and ‘web of life’ – which is why we are asking you not to pick fungi from this special place. Besides being essential rotters and recyclers, they provide food for some animals and vital to many invertebrates to enable them to complete their life cycles. Also, fungi are great to just admire and they are marvellously photogenic too.

Look, but please don’t pick.

Commercial harvesting is not permitted and foray leaders must obtain a licence.

Find out more about the incredible fungi found here by joining one of
the many educational fungi events that have permission to take place on Forestry Commission land. These events allow a limited, small amount of fungi to be picked to help identify their features and discover more about the many species of fungi.

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Last updated: 25th August 2018

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.