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Identifying fungi is probably more complicated than naming flowers or trees because often proper identification relies on a combination of features that single out one species from more than 6,000 other mushrooms and toadstools in the British Isles. In other words field mycology involves a much larger body of species than in other areas of natural history and many of these species can look confusingly similar.

Wandering around the woods and fields, often in changeable autumnal weather conditions, is not always the best moment to discuss finer features! One of the most constructive learning tools is when a workshop can be organised after the foray. Everyone gets warm and dry and the specimens can be laid out for inspection. It's then much easier to separate them into genera and families and to get the hang of why a species belongs in Amanita, Russula, Mycena or some other genus. When a microscope is also available, a fungus workshop really comes to life because many of the tiny features, too small to be visible to the naked eye can be demonstrated and perhaps someone new on the group gets that first hankering to take their interest one stage further.

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