Beautiful Blewits! Although these Blewits were found on the fringes of a field, they are in fact Wood Blewits (Lepista nuda) and not Field Blewits (Lepista saeva). Blewits are saprophytes, which means they live on decaying matter. As such, these tasty mushrooms are to be found in nutrient rich habitats such as compost or thick woodland litter, which is often still attached to the base of the mushroom after picking. Blewits are a wonderful mushroom to find, although in deep leaf litter they can prove very elusive, so a good old rummage with your trusty stick may be necessary.
Once found, photographed and checked for resident critters, Blewits make a hearty meal. Most books will tell you that they need to be cooked prior to consumption because of a compound they contain which can cause tummy upsets, so beware.
Good luck and happy Blewit hunting.
Now appearing in a field near you, wonderful Waxcaps! These colourful chaps are Scarlet Waxcaps (Hygrocybe coccinea) and were found in a field near the local church.
Waxcaps are among the most beautiful mushrooms found here in Wales, a fantastic splash of Autumn colour. The vivid colours of Waxcaps may, to many, shout out danger! However, many species of Waxcaps are entirely edible and can be used to brighten up otherwise dull dishes.
A great excuse to get out into your local fields and go hunting, don’t forget your camera.
Wonderfully vibrant autumnal mushrooms, probably the most colourful basket of the season so far!
A good day today picking Yellow Legs in a local woodland just outside Chepstow. Also known as Winter Chanterelle or Trumpet Chanterelle, Yellow Legs (Cantharellus tubaeformis) is a wonderful little mushroom to track down. Gregarious in nature, where found they often grow in great profusion, so a bumper haul is a real possibility.
As with all mushroom hunting it pays to know your habitats; locally, Yellow legs are usually found growing under Beech (Fagus sylvatica) although I’ve also found them growing under Larch (Larix decidua) and Norway Spruce (Picea abies). Today I visited a lovely local Beechwood which, although only small, is a prolific mushroom producing spot. Every year these little fellas appear in their thousands, they vary greatly in colour and size so there may be more than one variety present. For example, individuals growing in the Billberry bushes tend to be a lot bigger than those growing in the open (as seen in the one photo).
Yellow Legs are masters of camouflage, especially when hiding amongst autumn leaf fall. A good tip is to get as low as possible and scan the floor to look for individuals or groups that stand out against the skyline. A word of warning, once your quarry has been spotted, don’t go rushing straight in to claim your prize. Instead, approach with caution checking carefully where you put your feet, for every yellow legs spotted ten more go undetected until it is too late!
The fantastic variety of fungi and their ethereal nature never fails to amaze and delight me. Welcome to all my new followers, I hope you find as much enjoyment viewing my pictures as I did taking and editing them, fun times!
What is in your basket? Probably the question I get asked the most whilst out hunting mushrooms. Often followed by expressions which betray a range of emotions, from surprise and wonderment to fear and despair, as I go on to explain exactly what is in my basket (or at least what I hope is in my basket).
So, the basket, the food foragers constant companion. There are three universal truths in a mushroom fanciers life (actually there are four but as this is a family blog the fourth will not be spoken of here). Firstly, women will come and go (often citing mushrooms as a major factor in their departing) secondly, you will lose you favourite walking stick; I often call to mind old favourites of yesteryear and imagine them lying forlorn and decaying on some forest floor, consumed by the very fungi they once helped to hunt (sticks, not the women, lets be clear). I wonder if they harbour resentment towards me and my carelessness or are happy to be liberated, resting well amongst old friends? I guess I will never know.
Alas, I digress, let’s get back to baskets and universal truths. Thirdly, a forager will have a cherished basket, which will mean as much to them as their Dear Old Ma! The basket is the ideal way to transport mushrooms without damaging them. The weave of the basket allows the dropping of spores as you travel through the woodland, thus spreading the future generations of tasty treats. Rain and moisture can also pass through the weave which can prevent your mushrooms from becoming too soggy and spoilt. A forager may possess many baskets but they will have a favourite and that will generally be their first. Tattered and weather beaten it may be but the handle fits snugly in calloused hand providing reassurance.
So, next time you bump into somebody carrying a basket in your local woodland feel free to enquire as to its content. Also, spare a moment to compliment the basket and watch the spark in the eye of the bearer as he (or she) basks in the glow of the glory of an old friend and companion.
It’s a very busy time for mushroom hunters here in Wales. Lots going on and a great variety of species to be found. Here is a small selection of some treats found in the last few days, all edible and tasty (to various degrees, dependant upon personal taste of course).
Fried Chicken Mushroom (Lyophyllum decastes)
Penny Bun (Boletus edulis)
Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum)
Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica)
May your baskets runneth over!
Sparassis crispa or Cauliflower Fungus. This little fella was a bonus today because I wasn’t on the lookout for it. I was hoping for a few Penny Buns or Chanterelles, both of which I failed to find, so this was nice.
The Cauliflower is a very tasty mushroom, it has a kind of nutty/mushroomy smell and flavour. It is found on old stumps or at the base of pines, late summer to autumn, and can grow to a fair old size. The only downside is that it can be a bit of a bugger to clean all the needles out before eating. This one was found at a local woodland called the Fedw, it wasn’t very big but he still has plenty of eating on him, lovely jubbly!
The Glory of Gills.
Lately, I have been looking under the caps of mushrooms, there is great beauty to discover and admire
My first Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) of the year. Fly Agaric is the quintessential toadstool of myth and legend. No childhood fairytale is complete without an appearance from this iconic mushroom. The crimson red cap, often covered in white flecks which are the remnants of the universal veil, positively screams out danger! Although consumption is best avoided, in reality Fly Agaric is seldom fatal if consumed on its own. Countless articles have been written regarding its use in ritual and religion, particularly during Shamanic practices, when it is eaten to help induce a transcendental state.
In woodlands, Fly Agaric is typically found growing in association with Birch, with which it forms a symbiotic relationship called a mycorrhiza. Searching around Birches is the best place to start if you are looking to find them. To me, its appearance is an indication that Autumn is just around the corner. It is certainly one of the most striking mushrooms, a real pleasure to find and photograph. Hopefully this will be the first of many.