Cool for Kids

If you go down to the woods today …

… take some time to look for wild mushrooms and toadstools!

toadstools in Belgium

October is a great month to go on a fungus foray in your local woodland. Especially after some rain, the forest floor is likely to hold a wide variety of all sorts of mushrooms and toadstools.

Fungus Foray Belgium

Fungi are in a kingdom of their own but are closer to animals than plants.

fungi fact #1

I love photographing fungi; partly because they don’t fly away like insects and birds! Snapping pictures of mushrooms and toadstools might also be of interest to a child. Encourage them to crouch down on the woodland floor and take photos at “fungi level”: probably easier for younger people than us oldies!

Photographing fungi in the forests

However, “top down” photos can also be interesting, especially when they make such interesting patterns and symmetries.

Fungi photographs

Fungi have chemicals in their cell walls that they share with lobsters and crabs.

fungi fact #2

I mention woodlands, but the good news is you can find fungi literally anywhere. You can find them shooting up in city centre parks, on roadside verges and canal banks. You could search for them on your back lawn, along farm tracks, or in pastures and meadows.

Photographs of toadstools

Wherever you find them, take a moment to marvel at their incredibly diversity of shapes, sizes, textures and colours.

Fly agaric

It is estimated that there are at least 1.5 million different species of fungi.

fungi fact #3

The more you look, the more you’ll find. It’s often profitable to examine the forest floor really closely, because some are tiny, like this one I found, growing out of a nut:

Small fungi in the forest

Others are exceptionally fragile and look so delicate that you wonder how they’ll last for more than an hour or two:

The fragility of fungi

The best places to look for fungi in the autumn are forests and woodlands. They don’t have to be big forests; any small copse might prove fruitful.

Fungus foray Belgium

216 species of fungi are thought to be hallucinogenic.

fungi fact #4

You can walk along the footpaths and see what’s visible on either side of you. Or you could strike out into the forest itself.

Looking for toadstools

I personally make a beeline for areas where the soil has recently been disturbed, for example by some forestry work, horses’ hooves, or by a tree falling over and exposing the soil. It’s also good to check out rotting tree trunks, sawn off tree stumps, and piles of logs.

fungi growing on tree trunk

I would recommend not touching the fungi you come across nor picking them, and definitely not eating them, as some are poisonous. Unless of course you are proficient at identifying edible fungi.

Some fungi are so toxic that they can cause instant death in animals and humans

fungi fact #5
Magpie inkcap

Send me your fungi foto!

If you or your children have taken a photo of a wild mushroom or toadstool that you are especially proud of, send it to me in an email and I will be delighted to add it to this post.

photographs of toadstools and mushrooms

Where can I go to forage for fungi?

Wild toadstool

Literally anywhere. However, here are some recommendations of forests I’ve enjoyed walking through and discovering all sorts of nature, not just fungi. They are listed by province:

What’s your own favourite woodland walk or forest in Belgium? Feel free to mention it in the comments below.

Happy Foraging!

28 replies »

  1. This was a fun post. Your fungi are fabulous. Washington State forests are famous for the ‘Shrooms that people forage there (and some of them may also be used for food. 🙂

    Like

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