AS the mushroom-picking season begins, the City of London Corporation is warning fungi-lovers not to indulge their practice in Epping Forest.

The Forest is home to over 1,000 species of fungi, including many rare species such as the deadly Devil’s Bolete, and since 2004 it has been illegal to pick it under local bye-laws.

In April this year, a man from Waltham Abbey was successfully prosecuted by the City of London for picking fungi and fined £100 and £140 costs.

The Forest Keepers, who are charged with policing the area, are continually on the look out for mushroom thieves.

Epping Forest senior keeper Jonathan Preston said: “The removal of fungi can have a detrimental effect on the ecology of the forest. It is dangerous for the public to pick mushrooms from the wild as poisonous mushrooms can be commonly confused as edible ones.

“Mushroom picking also prevents other forest users from enjoying the beauty of living fungi and threatens the survival of important insect populations.”

Licenses are available for fungi research or organised educational fungi courses, but no longer for mushroom picking.