Anyone wishing to find mushrooms or embark on a fungal foray in October may have been disappointed as the month was so dry.

Conditions have improved somewhat as rain has fallen and woodlands are now damp enough to show off their seasonal display in a vast array of colours, shapes and sizes.

What we see on the surface is really only the tip of the iceberg so to speak as they are just the fruiting bodies containing billions of spores. The root systems called mycelium are a mass of tiny threads spread out for many metres underground or within tree trunks and may have been in place for many decades.

Fungi play a crucial role in the ecosystem as it is through their action that dead plant material in converted back into humus, thus fertilising the soil.

If fungi did not exist, our woods would be knee deep in dead leaves, trees and branches.

Sometimes fungi in grassland grow outwards from the centre forming a circle or  'fairy ring'. One of the most familiar species is the classic toadstool or fly agaric  seen in birch woods and often depicted in children's books with a fairy or elf perched on top.

As the fly agaric emerges from the soil its red cap is covered in a translucent veil which rapidly shrinks, fragments and forms the well known white spots on the cap (pictured)

Although some species are edible like the aptly-named parasol mushroom, others are definitely inedible and often downright dangerous so extreme caution must be exercised if picking for the table and we must be one hundred percent certain that our identification is correct.