We report the first successful culturing and confirmation of identity (via sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, SDS–PAGE) of Serpula lacrymans (the dry rot fungus) derived from basidiomes and mycelia growing in the ‘wild’. The fungus was found growing on well decayed coniferous wood within the Narkanda region of the Western Himalayas at between 2800 and 3100 m above sea level (a.s.l.). The ‘wild’ habitat of the fungus is described, as is the isolation of Serpula himantioides also found in these regions. Temperature, osmotic potential, initial pH and air-current influenced the average colony extension rate of ‘wild’ and a selection of building isolates on 2% malt extract agar. The ‘wild’ and building isolates behaved as two separate cohorts; the ‘wild’ isolates appeared to be less affected by extremes of temperature, whereas building isolates extended more rapidly at the moderate microenvironmental regimes.