The good, the bad and the pretty – from a walk last week:

Good

Cauliflower Fungus
Cauliflower Fungus

One of my favourites, a Cauliflower fungus. Always found at the base of a coniferous tree. Compared to many mushrooms the preparation is hard work with woodlice, pine needles and leaf litter all found inside. Breaking into smaller pieces and washing under a running tap is the way to clean them. They have a lovely nutty flavour, the portion of this one that came home made a great curry.

Bad

Death Cap
Death Cap

I usually see Death Caps about 2 or 3 times each year. These are responsible for most mushroom deaths in Europe. It is a member of the Amanita genus with their characteristic ring and (not shown) the swollen base (Volva). Other family members include the Destroying Angel, Fly Agaric and Blusher. While one or two of the family can be eaten, the advice of many including me is to avoid all Amanitas. If you have any interest in eating mushrooms you should learn to recognise an Amanita. The Death Cap is found with a pretty wide range of trees including Oak, Beech, Birch and Pine. The toxic component damages the liver and kidneys and can be fatal.

Pretty

Stinking Dapperling / stinking parasol (Lepiota cristata)
Stinking Dapperling / stinking parasol (Lepiota cristata)

I wished I smelt this at the time – it apparently smells of burnt rubber. “Edibility suspect – avoid”.

If this post interests you, we have some places available on our full day fungus forays and our 3-4 hour fungus walks in The New Forest (by kind permission of The Forestry Commission) in October.

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