Meadow Waxcaps - fungi can be beautiful, too!
Wales has a great variety of wildlife habitats, and some of these are particularly good for seeing a huge range of mushrooms, toadstools, brackets, puffballs and many other fungi.
Fungi do not necessarily find that a world managed for the convenience of Man is a good place to live, and some of our most valuable sites do need to be managed sensitively if their fungi are to continue to thrive.
Throughout the country there are ancient woodlands that are managed to make them favourable places for fungi to grow. Lleaving fallen wood in situ, for instance, encourages the growth of saprophytic fungi, which are nature's own waste-disposal team. Tidying up dead wood may be pleasing to our eyes and make it easier to get around, but it is not good for mushrooms.
Where waxcap fungi grow on our nature reserves, a managed grazing regime or even regular mowing enables them to continue to thrive and fruit. Rare waxcaps don't like the tall lush ryegrass so loved by farmers; nor can they cope with the highly-concentrated fertilisers and other chemicals that are spread on the land to encourage grass to grow more quickly.
Whilst we may not relish the appearance of fungi in our walls or elsewhere in our homes, seeing them and the many other kinds of wildlife in our countryside is a sign that the environment is in good shape, and what's good news for plants, insects and animals is good news for us, too.
With a few exceptions the best time to see lots of fungi is in late summer and autumn, and some of our nature reserves are particularly rich in colourful mushrooms, toadstools and many other kinds of fungi at that time of year.
Certain kinds of fungi - brackets and crusts, for example, persist well into winter here in the relatively mild climate of Wales, but once there are heavy frosts, most of the displays iof cap-and-stem mushrooms and troadstools are pretty much over for the year.
Waun Las National Nature Reserve
Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve - both the dunes and the forest.
Meirionydd Oakwoods National Nature Reserves
Pengelli Forest National Nature Reserve
Roundton Hill National Nature Reserve
Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve
Ty Canol National Nature Reserve - Lichens
Morfa Dyffryn National Nature Reserve
Cwm Clydach National Nature Reserve
Gregynog National Nature Reserve
If you are interested in getting to know more about fungi in Wales, and would like to get involved in species recording you can join one of the local groups:
Pembrokeshire Fungus Recording Network – www.pembsfungi.org.uk
North West Fungus Group – covers Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside, and the vice-counties of Denbighshire and Flintshire fungus.org.uk/nwfg.htm
Swansea Fungus group - Blogspot: http://swanseafungi.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/glamorgan-fungi-groupafan-argoed-foray.html - currently inactive (2013)
Gwent Wildlife Trust - Fungi
National Botanic Garden of Wales - focus for those interested in fungi in the Carmarthenshire area and holds many fungi events and forays in and around the Garden - http://www.gardenofwales.org.uk/