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Monday, 31 August 2015

Magic and not-so-magic mushrooms; Foragers Diary

Got you with that title didn't I...

This post obviously isn't about those magic mushrooms but I do love mushrooms, they are one of my favorite wild foods, except perhaps pigeon, and searching for them and finding them is very satisfying. 

I'm going to look at some of the less obvious dangers of fungi foraging today, not the poisonous ones but the dangers of unwanted 'insect based protein'. 

You wouldn't be so enthusiastic about these particular specimens would you;

The brown/red staining where the stem of this mushroom has been cut gives it away as a horse mushroom, but can you see the problem with it, those holes are made by the dozens of fly larvae that have eaten their way through this particular specimen.  

It's not just the stems either, the cap of this field mushroom was full of larvae too.

These ones don't look so magic do they!

I'm not normally squeamish about the odd bug in my food but when the whole cap of one of the mushrooms you were planning to have for breakfast is crawling with little fly larvae it puts you off. To get around that you should always select the youngest specimens you find, if the cap of the mushrooms you find are still closed they tend to have less larvae in them, but do be aware that fungi can be harder to identify when their caps are still closed. 

Some fungi tend to be effected less by fly larvae in my experience, I have never had a problem with them in fairy ring champignon, and I spotted a big ring of them this evening as I walked back home from feeding my pheasants but I had already eaten mushrooms for lunch so I might pick them tomorrow.    

Todays mushroom lunch, mostly horse mushroom, one shaggy parasol and a field mushroom. 

The staining in the picture above, red on the field mushrooms and orange/brown on the shaggy parasol is one of the features you can use to help your efforts to ID your lunch. But what if that beautiful field mushroom you have just found stains yellow when you cut it?

If it does it's a yellow staining mushroom and should be avoided, it's not one of the most seriously poisonous mushrooms but it will make you ill. Just make sure you pay attention to all the features that you can use to identify the fungi you pick.

 enjoy your foraging

Geoff 

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