Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hunting mushrooms

The wood

Hanningfield Reservoir
Yesterday we went on a mushroom foray, lecture perhaps would be a better term.  The weather was beautiful, and the woods almost had a magical air to them.  The unseasonal hot weather is a boon, though tomorrow winds from the west will arrive but we have had a few classical Indian summer September days.  We wandered round the edges of fields, bullocks and sheep grazed calmly, the grass in many places was still covered in  dew and was thick and rich. Our guide was an expert, and of course did not talk about which was an edible mushroom, its just too tricky in this quick trigger world of compensation.  One man did collect the Amethyst Deceiver for the stew pot, these were my favourite coloured mushrooms, delicate hues of lavender buried deep in the coppery-brown undergrowth.  We came across one of the stink horns, a rather small example but there was also a creamy 'egg' from which they emerge, this was found by a small girl called Fern, who happily hunted and tackled the brambles to bring out the mushrooms buried deep in the woodland floor.
Bracket fungi, common earth balls (got excited about these), apparently though they are poisonous, very inconspicuously buried in the leaves.
We eventually made our way back to the centre, it was a three hour session, and he laid all our trophies out must have been about 60 or 70 different species on the table, and we wandered round looking at them.  The ones I remembered are the spindle mushroom (being a spinner of course), the milk cap, apparently as there are so many of them, if you nibble them gently and the lactose is extruded (the ones you are sure about of course) the different tastes will tell of their potency, there is a peppery one out much fancied by gormandising mushroomers!  Shaggy parasol is another I can now identify but to be honest it would take a whole lifetime to really learn about these strange creatures called fungi, I think he said they are fauna more than flora, because they eat everything, in microscopic form anyway. 

LS took a photo of our guide dressed in his green camouflage jacket, he was an expert in his subject and if he could not identify something he would say so.  Pottering around old woods looking for fungi is not a bad occupation my only worry about it all was the actual picking of them. were they rare....

Bracket fungus and the black blobs above are 'King Alfred's Cakes' fungi

Closer view

Not sure

Spindle mushroom

Shaggy parasol

half full

earth balls

Amethyst deceiver

Another one


  1. Great post. Synchronicity too as I have a Fungi post waiting in the wings, having just been down to the New Forest to house- and animal-sit for a friend. The Amethyst Deceiver has long been one of my favourites.

  2. Hi Jennie, Just been to read your blog glad you had a good time, the Wells photos brings back memories.
    Look forward to your fungi post. Still can't comment on quite a few blogs it's to do with "Cookie value is null for FormRestoration"
    so it says!

  3. I recall that once two strangers came to my Grampa Mac's door and asked if they could go into his woods to hunt mushrooms. I beleive he said they could, although he wasn't inclined to be very trusting of those he didn't know. His comment to me was that they were "Eye-talians"---at any rate, people whose ethnic cuisine gave them a knowledge of good fungi.

  4. Hi MM,
    There are a few restauranteers in London who go out hunting for mushrooms in the autumn, and you have to pay a good price for them in their restaurants. But mushroom picking is not really welcome in many woods, because people over pick and reduce the numbers, think it happened in the New Forest.