Guide to Foraying

What is a Foray?

A fungus foray is the term used to describe the hunt for fungi (mushrooms and toadstools) at a particular venue.

What happens at a Foray?
The group gathers at the designated meeting point and time (generally 10.00 or 10.30). Any hazards associated with the site will be brought to your attention. The Foray Leader will direct the group, although generally most decisions are mutually agreed. Members of the group spread about to search for fungi. It is important that you remain within sight and hearing of the Leader. Forays can last until 1 - 2pm so usually a small packed lunch is useful to take with you if you wish to stay on. You can leave at any time, but we request that you inform the Foray Leader when you do so.

What to take on a foray
Wear sturdy shoes/boots and take weatherproof clothing.
Take with you :

  • Some refreshments/packed lunch.
  • A basket or similar container for specimens.
  • A small knife or similar tool (to remove the whole of the fungus).
  • A pencil and small notebook.
  • A small fungus identification handbook for use in the field.
  • A hand lens, if you have one.

Recording on Forays
Any finds are reported to the Foray Leader who records them. Specimens must be whole and not broken off, and include all the base, and their location noted. The important features of the fungus can be discussed with the members present and the species named where possible.

It is extremely important that the substrate (what the fungus is growing in or on) for example: beech stump, woodland litter or grassland, is also noted when the fungus is picked, along with any nearby trees which may be critical to that species. The Foray Leader will need to include this in the records.

A provisional list of species is thus recorded at the site, which can be added to or changed later as identifications are made with further study. This then becomes the final list of the species recorded for that site. This is collated by the Foray Leader.

Where we foray

We usually foray at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves, but we also visit other sites such as Country Parks, or occasionally and with permission, private land. The sites may be deciduous, evergreen or mixed woodland, moorland or heath, grassland, parkland or forest plantations. Staffordshire offers many different habitats and thus a variety of fungi are to be discovered. Within each site, pathsides, verges, disturbed ground and fallen wood etc. also offer potential habitats for fungi.

Picking Fungi
It is acceptable to pick fungi for identification purposes. The fruiting bodies of fungi disperse many millions of their spores as they mature, so unless they are picked very young, then the fungus will have distributed a good proportion of the spores which enable the fungus to spread. As we understand it at the moment, picking fungi does not harm their growth. It is damage to the habitat that threatens fungal life. Mycologists are careful to pick only what they need for identification purposes and respect unusual or rare fungi.

Except for very common fungi, it is often necessary for at least one or two specimens of each find be retained for recording purposes, for confirmation later or to be studied further at home under a microscope and where more books can be at hand.

You are encouraged to take some examples home with you to look at again if you wish.

Further guidance on picking fungi can be found in the 'Wild Mushroom Pickers Code of Conduct', produced by the British Mycological Society.

Edible Fungi
The Staffordshire Fungus Group does not foray with the purpose of finding edible fungi. Fungi which are regarded as edible may be found, and whilst edibility may possibly be commented upon, the SFG take no responsibility for the consumption of fungi, by any person, anywhere, at any time.

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