Fungi are one of Nature's important recycling agents. When a tree dies and falls down, it is usually fairly quickly colonized by one or more species of fungi. These reduce it, eventually to a crumbly mass which is then taken back into the soil by earthworms and micro-organisms to provide food for the generations of trees to follow.
Fairy Ring Champignons
Marasmius oreades. Fairy Ring Champignons grow in an ever increasing ring formations in grass as the mycellium ("root"- system) spreads outwards. The grass where the fruiting bodies are to be found is of a much darker colour than the rest! Delicious when cooked but beware not to confuse with a number of fungi which have similar characteristics.
Coprinus comatus. As you can see these fungi grow in rings like the Fairy Ring Champignon. The Shaggy Inkcap is delicious when cooked and tastes just like chicken but only when the gills are pink! When the fruiting body starts to auto digest and goes black at the edges with the ink-like mass of spores, it becomes rather unsavoury!!! Also known as Lawyer's Wigs.
Amanita muscaria. Highly poisonous.
Psilocybe semilanceata (Magic Mushrooms). Hallucinogenic, expands perception and enhances colour sense.
Piptoporus betulinus, a very common bracket fungus which infests dead or dying Birch trees. It is inedible.
You will recognize the Stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus, and with it, the Witch's Egg, which is what the Stinkhorn emerges from. The fungus gives off a rather unappetizing smell which permeates the woodlands to such an extent that you can tell stinkhorns are around even if you can't see them. They attract flies which carry the spores away to new sites. You can eat this fungus in the egg stage, but we've never really fancied it!! There is a story of a Victorian gentlewoman who had her gardener destroy all these fungi in her woodland so that her servants 'didn't get ideas'.
These Oyster fungi are common in the woods around us, and are delicious
to eat. Do be careful though, to be sure of your identification before trying
them - take an expert with you! Once you have positively identified these, you should have
no trouble on future occasions.