Tag Archives: boletus aereus

Dark Penny Bun Bonanza!

Email: geoff@geoffdann.co.uk

30/08/2018

An update is required! Having blogged a couple of days ago about finding lots of large boletes but no Dark Penny Buns (Boletus aereus), today I came across a bonanza of them. I also saw quite a lot of the other things I described as “missing” in that post – plenty of Brittlegills and Milkcaps, Leccinums and Suillus coming through, as well as a lot of poisonous Livid Pinkgills (Entoloma sinuatum). And gazillions of Blushers.

I had originally tried a spot I’ve seen them before. I found one specimen, rolling around loose having been knocked over by an animal. So I decided to check somewhere else that I’ve previously seen Chestnut Boletes. There were none (but quite a lot of other stuff). Then I headed off home via a different route and was really excited to find about 15 Dark Penny Buns – more than I’d ever found in one place before, and in good enough condition to get a much better ID photo than my existing best one. I was very happy with my afternoon’s work.

Pretty good ID shot

Then about 50 metres away I came across the motherlode. Well over 200 of them growing under a row of oaks I have passed countless times before, but never seen any of this species. I do sometimes criticise people for irresponsible “over-picking”, but this was one of those situations where this was almost impossible. Firstly, there was no shortage of large, old specimens which weren’t worth picking, because they were too soft and grub-infested.

Not worth taking these. Much better left to spread their spores around.

So I was only interested in the youngsters, and most of these were at the early stages of infection with “Bolete Eater” mould, which means that within a day or two they were destined to become both inedible and infertile.

Dark Penny Buns being attacked by “Bolete Eater” mould, but still edible at this point

And since nobody else forages in this location (almost nobody else even goes there – it is rather inaccessible, the footpath into it is poorly marked and doesn’t go anywhere sensible. I’ve never even seen a dog-walker there, just the occasional horse rider) I figured I’d take as many as I could carry!

Dark Penny Bun Bonanza

This is the biggest mass-fruiting of one of the big edible prized boletes I have ever seen in one place at one time.

It’s looking good. Let’s hope it stays this way, and 2018 could be a classic mushroom year.

Edit: I found another huge flush a few days later, video here.

Fungi and Climate Change

Phone: 07964 569715 Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
18/11/2016

A typically spectacular fruiting of Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea)

A typically spectacular fruiting of Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea)

Mushroom season 2016 is nearly over. Not quite over yet (I found some lovely Penny Buns today), but I am not expecting much new stuff to appear before the winter. It has not been a vintage year. Not the total wipeout of the second half of last autumn, but a lot of species either didn’t fruit at all this year or fruited very patchily and unenthusiastically. On the other hand, it was a memorable year for a few species, including a couple of the most spectacular: Fly Agarics and Honey Fungus.

The poor showing of most species has prompted more than one person to ask me whether it has anything to do with climate change, and what it is likely to mean for the future. 2016 is without doubt an important year in terms of climate change. We are on target for yet another record-breaking year in terms of average global temperatures, and there is something very scary going on in the Arctic right now. The deviation from historically-normal concentration of sea ice, which had been in steady decline for several years, has just fallen off a cliff. Some sort of tipping point has been reached, whereby the sea has gone from pretty much frozen in November, to pretty much not frozen.

arctic sea ice disappearance

Arctic sea ice disappearance

Among other side-effects, this disappearance of the sea ice has led to the starvation of 80,000 reindeer. The reindeer usually feed on lichens beneath soft snow, but the changing climate has caused the snow to melt and then refreeze, covering their food in a thick layer of ice they cannot penetrate.

Fungi are less directly affected by climate; they are more at the mercy of weather, which is not the same thing. It is highly unlikely that the British Isles, which sits under a moving junction of several different climate systems, will experience a radical change –  we are destined to continue getting random and unpredictable weather, even if on average it gets a bit warmer. We’ll still have extended spells of dry, wet, warm or cold weather, at unpredictable times of year, as the competing climate systems move about.  It was the extended dry spell in late summer and early autumn that caused the problems this year – drainage ditches and ponds that are normally 1ft deep in water were empty until the end of October, and are only starting to fill up now.

Ruddy Bolete (Boletus rhodoxanthus)

Ruddy Bolete (Rubroboletus rhodoxanthus)

A lot of fungi have extensive ranges that are determined by average temperatures.  Their spores travel far and wide, but they are specialised in terms of at what temperature they can compete successfully with other fungi.  They therefore tend to be common in the centre of their range, and rare at the edges, where the temperature doesn’t suit them so well. This is likely to be relevant to fungi foraging in the longer term, because quite a few species of interest to foragers are much more common further south in Europe. This includes quite a few boletes (mushrooms with tubes and pores rather than gills). British foragers are not accustomed to watching out for poisonous boletes because the only poisonous British boletes are so rare that most people will never find them. This is exactly the sort of thing that is likely to change, because at least five poisonous boletes are considerably more common further south and are likely to become more common in the British Isles as the climate warms up.  They are the Devil’s Bolete (Rubroboletus satanus), the Bilious Bolete (Rubroboletus legaliae), the Ruddy Bolete (Rubroboletus rhodoxanthus), the Oldrose Bolete (Imperator rhodopurpureus) and the Brawny Bolete (Imperator torosus).

Dark Penny Bun (Boletus aereus)

Dark Penny Bun (Boletus aereus)

It is not all bad news though! Also in this category of likely-to-move-northwards is the best edible bolete of them all: the Dark Penny Bun (Boletus aereus). I’ve only ever seen this species on a handful of occasions, and always near the south coast. It is the only bolete tastier than a Penny Bun, and it is very welcome if it chooses to launch a serious invasion!

In other news, I have now been given the go-ahead by the Forestry Commission to run public sessions in Hemsted Forest next year, which means vouchers are available for Christmas presents. Details of this and other events in 2017, including my first dedicated coastal foraging sessions are here.

Finally, just a reminder that I am still selling signed copies of my book at the RRP of £20, including packing and postage.

Dark Penny Bun, Take Two

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
Phone: 07964 569715

25/09/2014

I have a confession to make. I had to remove my previous blog entry because it contained an error – and those can be serious in this line of business. However, there’s some lessons here. The first is that not all fungi foraging mistakes are equal – if you’re going to get something wrong then the difference between mistaking a delicacy for another delicacy and mistaking a poisonous species for a delicacy is also the difference between a tasty dinner and your last dinner. It was not good fortune that my mistake was the former rather than the latter, but the result of knowing that even if I got something in this region of fungal taxonomy wrong, I wasn’t going to end up being poisoned. It was a mistake nonetheless, and so this blog post will retrace the steps that led me astray.

I’ve long been aware of the existence of three mushrooms very similar to a penny bun (Boletus edulis, cep, porcino). All three are much rarer, at least in southern England, and all of them highly prized – at least as much as their more famous relative, and one case even more so. The three in question are the Summer Bolete (B. reticulatus), the Dark Penny Bun (or Dark Cep, B. aereus) and the Pine Bolete (B. pinophilus). As the years marched on and I continued to never find any of them, I started to wonder whether maybe I’d seen them many times and had been mistaking them for a Penny Bun. I mean…exactly how similar where they?

Penny Bun (Boletus edulis)

Penny Bun (Boletus edulis)

Then two things led to my first mistake. The Summer Bolete does not always fruit in the summer, and its name comes from the reticulations on its stem – a network of raised lines. I came across a couple of pictures on the internet claiming to be B. reticulatus, showing a clear, white network of lines on a mushroom that otherwise looked exactly like a bog-standard penny bun. “Ah”, I thought, “so I’ve been picking these up and just not realising what they were. Now I know what a Summer Bolete is.” Except I didn’t. My picture (left) is not of B. reticulatus. It’s just a penny bun with a particularly noticeable network of reticulations on its stem.

And when you’re working by a process of elimination – which is sometimes a legitimate strategy when identifying fungi – then one mistake can lead to another. When, two weeks ago, I found a mushroom with a light brown, suede-like cap, and white pores, I ended up concluding that it had to be B. aereus – it didn’t look dark enough, but then again some of the pictures I could find of that species had caps as light, especially when they were quite small. So I blogged about Dark Penny Buns.

Summer Bolete (Boletus reticulatus)

Summer Bolete (Boletus reticulatus)

Then a few days later I found lots more of them – outside a pub where the landlord had taken a dislike and dumped a load of earth on them, in a futile attempt to stop them popping up on his land. At this point, with more specimens as examples, it dawned on me what had happened. These couldn’t be B. aereus because they were the wrong colour. Dark Penny Buns have to be Dark. So they had to be B. reticulatus, and what I’d thought was that species were Penny Buns. The network on their stems is much finer, and brown rather white.

Dark Penny Bun, or Dark Cep (Boletus aereus)

Dark Penny Bun, or Dark Cep (Boletus aereus)

Then, in a twist so typical of mushroom foraging, something else turned up. Yesterday I visited a site where hedgehog fungi grow in great profusion every year, collecting for two foraging workshops in Northamptonshire. They were there as usual, but this time they had a friend – a solitary, dark-capped mushroom that otherwise looked remarkably like a penny bun. And by now you will have guessed where this story is going: this really was a dark penny bun. And it really was delicious.

As for the fourth member of this quartet – the Pine Bolete? That remains on the “to find” list, but the way this autumn is going, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns up next week.

27/11/2015: UPDATE

The fourth member of the quartet has turned up. Where? On the banner at the top of my main page, of course! I’ve been mistaking Pine Boletes for Penny Buns, it seems.