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Fungi facts

Updated 19th September 2019

Fungi are in a kingdom all of their own, they are often thought of as being plants, but some experts say they are closer to being animals. There are at least 70,000 species worldwide, approximately 12,000 in the UK and over 2,700 in the New Forest.

  1. Fungi cannot make their own food using energy from sunlight, but grow by absorbing food and water from their surroundings – most importantly from living and dead plants, and animals.
  2. Many fungi live on the roots of trees and other plants. This is known as a mycorrhizal association (from the Greek ‘myco’, meaning fungus, and ‘rhiza’, root). The fungi help the plant take up more nutrients by increasing the effective surface area of the roots and in turn take sugars from the plant.
  3. Woodland fungi such as types of Amanita, Boletus, Lactarius and Russula will only grow with certain trees (a helpful guide when identifying the fungi). It may surprise you to know that many trees grow less well without fungi.
  4. Some fungi are poisonous or rare. Please look but don't pick.