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This autumn, help us find the Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
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They are generally found in unimproved grassland (favouring acid or neutral grassland) and in leaf litter on woodland edges and clearings. In the summer and autumn, they can be found on road verges, in cropped grassland and in churchyards.
After years of low-nutrient management, they can also appear on lawns.
This autumn, help Plantlife find Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
A very common fruticose lichen on trees, which is easy for beginners to recognise.
As its evocative English name suggests, this lichen is relatively easy to spot once you have seen its ‘trumpets’. These are the apothecia (fruiting bodies) that stand out at the tips of many of the branches. They vary in size, but collectively make a visual impact.
Widespread and common across the British Isles with concentrations in southern England and coastal areas.
One of the most common fruticose species on trees with acidic bark such as alder, birch and oak. It is fairly pollution tolerant.
Could be confused with Evernia prunastri but that lacks the oval soralia on the edges of the branches and has distinctly paler undersides to the branches. When first becoming familiar with lichens you may also confuse R. fastigiata for an Usnea species as first glance, but if you look carefully you will notice that R. farinacea has flattened branches rather than cylindrical branches.
Similar to other Ramalina species such as R. calicaris, R. fastigiata, and R. fraxinea, but they have rounded apothecia (fruiting bodies) and they lack the oval soralia.
Widespread and common across the whole British Isles.
It is most common in the south west’s temperate rainforest zone.
Favouring well-lit conditions and dry, open situations, it is most often found in tree canopies or on lower branches where trees are well-lit, in woodland or on scattered trees in open moorland. You can also find it on the ground after stormy weather.
Other large, bearded lichens include Usnea ceratina, Usnea dasopoga and Usnea hirta but these lack the sausage-like lobes.
Largely restricted to south-western parts of the UK with most records in south-west England.
This evergreen plant has long, tongue shaped leaves with a pointy end.
Widespread across Britain, except in the far north.
Can be found in sheltered moist habitats such as woods, on hedge banks, in walls and in ditches.
A evergreen woody climbing wild plant, commonly seen on old walls and tree trunks.
Ivy is often found carpeting the ground or growing up walls and trees.
Its flowers bloom in an umbrella-like spread. In fact the term for such a bloom – an ‘umbel’ – derives from the same source as umbrella – umbra, the Latin word for shade.
It’s leaves are dark green glossy above, paler below. On flowering shoots leaves are pointed oval.
Widespread throughout the UK.
Woods, hedgerows, rocks and walls. Very commonly found on tree trunks.
Flowers September to November.
Found on Hazel trees in Britain, it is actually parasitic on the Glue Crust fungus Hymenochaete corrugate not living off the Hazel tree. It is not always possible to see the host crust fungus due to the presence of the Hazel Glove fungus and mosses.
Hazel Glove Fungus’ common name comes from the finger-like projections of the stromata (cushion-like plate of solid mycelium). It is a type of ascomycete fungus. When mature, the central area of a stroma becomes pinkish brown, and individual perithecia (tiny black dots on the surface of these orange lobes which are sac openings which release the spores) become visible.
Most likely to find in either west coast of Scotland in Atlantic Hazel woodland or temperate rainforest sites or in the south west of England, in North Devon and Cornwall, again in temperate rainforest habitat.
Temperate rainforest, parasitic on Glue Crust fungus Hymenochaete corrugata on Hazel trees.
Hazel Glove fungus is an indicator of good air quality and temperate rainforest conditions, making it a flagship species for this threatened habitat.
Temperate rainforests are found in areas that are influenced by the sea, with high rainfall and humidity and damp climate. They are home to some intriguing and sometimes rare bryophytes, plants and fungi.
Plantlife are working in many ways to protect and restore this globally threatened habitat.
Image by Sarah Shuttleworth
Violet Coral (Clavaria zollingeri) is a rare species in Britain found in unimproved grassland. It is usually solitary, but can occur in small groups.
It is listed as vulnerable across Europe on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Snowy Waxcaps (Cuphophyllus virgineus) can be found in parkland, garden lawns, churchyards and pastures around autumn time.
One of the most widely recorded waxcaps in unfertilised grassland. A variable species which includes varieties having pale buff-brown colours on the cap. Snowy waxcaps are a little more hardy than other waxcap species.
The Cedarwood Waxcap (similar white colour with distinctive smell of woof chippings).
With a preference for unfertilised land, the Scarlet Waxcap (Hygrocybe coccinea) can be found on cropped grassland and woodland clearings. They often appear in large troops (a group).
Hygrocybe means ‘watery head’, these waxcaps are always very moist. Coccinea means bright red (as in the food colouring cochineal) . The image above shows the justification of the name.
The Crimson Waxcap
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