Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

ID Guide

October - Autumn Woodland Fungi

Fungi in Wiltshire are most common in ancient deciduous woodlands, where you may see a rich variety of common and rare species. Although some species of fungi appear in spring and a few can be found all year round, October and November are the best months to go on a fungal foray. Download our ID guide to woodland fungi; don't forget to submit your sightings.

Parasol Mushroom, WSBRC/ Roger Feltham
Parasol Mushroom - Macrolepiota procera
This large fungus is fairly common and is named parasol mushroom as it resembles a lady’s parasol. It can be found on well drained soils, either singly or in groups and fairy rings. It can reach a large size reaching a height of 25cm and the cap can reach 20cm. The cap is egg shaped when immature with the margin around the stem making a chamber inside the cap; as it matures the margin breaks off leaving a fleshy moveable ring around the stem. Once the cap is mature it is circular shaped and flat with a little bump in the centre, grey to beige in colour with concentric rings of dark brown scales. 
Fly Agaric, Tony Coultiss/ WWT
Fly Agaric - Amanita muscaria
The name Fly Agaric derives from the fact that since medieval times it was commonly used as a fly killer. It is an attractive, brightly coloured toadstool that has a bright red cap, which fades to an orange or orange-yellowish colour with age, which makes it instantly recognisable. The fluffy white spots on the cap often take on a yellowish tinge as they grow old, and may occasionally be washed away by rain. The Fly Agaric is found from August to November and grows solitarily or in scattered groups.


Common Earth Ball, WWT/ John Notman
Common Earth Ball - Scleroderma citrinum
This poisonous and very common fungus is the most common species of Earth Ball in the UK. Seen from late autumn to winter in woodlands on forest tracks and shaded banks. One of the most noticeable features is that the Common Earth Ball has no stem, but is attached to the soils below by coarse mycelial threads. Its outer skin is thick, tough and leathery and covered in rough brown scales; its colour is initially white or cream and turns darker and browner as it ages. Typically they grow 1.5 to 4cm across and 3 to 4cm tall and have an unpleasant odour of gas.


Common Puffball, John Notman/ WSBRC
Common puffball - Lycoperdon perlatum
This common and widespread fungi can be found mainly from September to November in groups in woodlands throughout Wiltshire. It Latin name Perlatum means "widespread". They are usually 3-8 cm tall, 2-4 cm wide, and whitish at first, becoming cream to pale brown. The cap of the common puffball is large, rounded, and whitish in colour. It is covered in prominent white spines, each of which is surrounded by a ring of tiny warts. These spines are easily rubbed off, or fall away when mature, leaving a network of the small warts covering the cap surface.


King Alfreds Cakes, John Notman/ WSBRC
King Alfred's Cakes - Daldinia concentrica
King Alfred’s cake is a well known, and it received its name because of its blackened appearance. It’s a common species found on dead and dying branches of broadleaved trees, particularly on ash. King Alfred's cakes, also known as 'cramp balls' is a hard, ball-shaped fungus that is initially reddish-brown in colour, but becomes black and shiny as it ages. There is no stalk; the fruitbody is attached to the wood by a broad, flat area underneath the cushion-shaped fruitbody.





Common Stinkhorn, John Notman/ WSBRC
Stinkhorn - Phallus impudicus
Its very strong smell as well as an unmistakable appearance makes the stinkhorn one of the most easily recognised species of fungi. It can be found from July to November, either solitary or in groups, in woodlands where it is associated with rotten wood. Young fruit bodies have the appearance of eggs. The phallic mature fruit body grows extremely rapidly from the egg and the cap is olive green in colour and rapidly becomes slimy giving off the unmistakable smell.



Yello Brain fungus, John Notman/ WSBRC
Yellow Brain -  Tremella mesenterica
Also known as The Golden Jelly Fungus, the Yellow Trembler, and Witches' Butter due to it's bright yellow colour, it can be seen throughout the year but it fruits mainly in late summer and autumn. This golden yellow, gelatinous bodied fungus is usually solitary, or in small groups, on dead and rotting branches and twigs of broadleaf trees.





Jews Ear, John Notman/ WSBRC
Jew's Ear - Auricularia auricula-judae
This brown, ear-shaped fungus has a gelatinous fruting body and is found in small or large groups on dying branches and trunks of broadleaf trees, in particular Elder. Its Latin name is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder tree; the common name "Judas's ear" eventually became "Jew's ear", while today "jelly ear" or other names are sometimes used.
Dead Mans Fingers at Langley Wood, John Notman/ WWT
Dead Man's Fingers - Xylaria polymorpha
This aptly named fungus is a common inhabitant of forest and woodland areas, usually growing from the bases of rotting or injured tree stumps and decaying wood throughout summer and autumn. The dark, irregularly shaped fruiting body (often black or brown, but sometimes shades of blue/green) is surprisingly white on the inside, and grows in small tufts and favour Beech trees. The spore distribution is a lengthy process, sometimes taking several months to complete this part of the life cycle, this is not a common trait amongst fungi, as is normally a much swifter process.
Scarlet Elf Cup, John Notman/ WSBRC
Scarlet Elf Cup - Sarcoscypha coccinea
This small fungus (it only grows to 1.5 cm tall!) grows on decaying sticks and branches in damp spots on forest floors, generally buried under leaf litter or in the soil. The cup-shaped fruit bodies are usually produced during the cooler months of winter. The brilliant red interior of the cups—from which both the common and scientific names are derived—contrasts with the lighter-coloured exterior, and makes this species easily identifiable. 
Common Rustgill, John Notman/ WSBRC
Common Rustgill - Gymnopilus penetrans
This common fungus can be spotted from late summer through to the end of November. It can be found on stumps in both coniferous and broadleaf woodlands; very occasionally on hardwoods. This species is becoming increasingly common because it grows on wood-chip mulch that is now so popular with gardeners as a means of controlling weeds in shrubberies. 
Horn of Plenty, John Notman/ WSBRC
Horn of Plenty - Craterellus conucopioides
Also known as trumpet of death, black chanterelle and black trumpet, this medium-sized, greyish, wrinkled and funnel-shaped fungus can be found in the soil amongst leaf litter in broadleaf woodlands throughout summer and autumn. Due to it's dark colour is can be hard to spot as it blends in with the leaf litter on the forest floor.