Tag Archives: cantherellus cibarius

Mushroom Season 2014 starts with a bang

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
Phone: 07964 569715


Or more accurately, a splash.

27/09/2014 It's not just humans that like chanterelles.

27/08/2014 It’s not just humans that like chanterelles.

Some years the main mushroom season ramps up slowly into September. In others, drought and high temperatures keep things quite until sometime in September the weather breaks, followed by a sudden burst of fungal activity. This year we’ve had both. It’s been a pretty good August for fungi, without being spectacular, but the recent drop in temperatures and abundant rainfall have combined to trigger all sorts of things into fruiting in the last few days. It’s mushroom mayhem out there.

There’s not much sign of the wood-munchers – there’s a few common and shaggy inkcaps about (both of which are associated with buried, decaying wood), but it’s too early for the majority of the

27/08/2014 One of the brown leccinums, and would be mis-identified by most foragers as a brown birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum).  It's probably actually a mottled bolete (Leccinum variicolor).  L. scrabrum doesn't stain blue like this.

27/08/2014 One of the brown leccinums, and would be mis-identified by most foragers as a brown birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum). It’s probably actually Leccinum cyaneobasileucum. L. scrabrum doesn’t stain blue like this.

species that break down wood, and the ground-dwelling saprophytes (the species that break down dead organic matter in soil) are just poking their heads up, but not yet in vast numbers. It’s the symbiotic fungi that are really going for it, especially the boletes, russulas, milkcaps and amanitas.

Today’s finds included: chanterelles, giant puffball, upwards of ten types of russulas, plenty of blushers, some deathcaps, several Agaricuses, Inocybes, Entolomas, and representatives of all the main groups of bolete. Particularly abundant in my local area right now is Boletus luridus – a technicolour fungus that

27/08/2014 A pair of young yellow stainers (Agaricus xanthodermus).  These are responsible for more poisonings in the UK than any other wild mushroom.

27/08/2014 A pair of young yellow stainers (Agaricus xanthodermus). These are responsible for more poisonings in the UK than any other wild mushroom.

most people assume to be poisonous, but is actually edible.

Anyway…it’s still too early to say whether 2014 is going to be a bumper year for wild mushrooms, but the start has been glorious.  I’m very much looking forward to next week, when I’ll be out and about looking for stuff to take to Brighton Food Festival for the Masterclass on the 6th of September.

2013: a vintage year for fungi

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
Phone: 07964 569715


Horn of Plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides).  October 2013.

Horn of Plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides). October 2013.

All good things come to an end, and mushroom season 2013 has been one to remember; certainly the best since 2010, after the drought of 2011 and the washout of 2012, and better than 2010 for many species. I took my 35th and final group of the season out last Sunday (December 1st), and we were still finding winter chanterelles (Craterellus tubaeformis) in their thousands, along with a few other bits and pieces. And it is that family, the Cantherellaceae, that I’ll especially remember 2013 for. They’ve all done brilliantly – not just the chanterelles (Cantherellus cibarius) that I’ve been finding since August, the Horns of Plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides) that I’d never found in serious quantities before this year but in 2013 seemed to

turn up all over the place, the aforementioned winter chanterelles that have been even more

abundant than usual this year as well as arriving about a month early, but also the much rarer members of this family. There are quite a few of these, several of which I’ve still never seen, but this year more of them than not turned up either in people’s posts on various websites.

It has also been the best year I can remember for beefsteak fungus (Fistulina hepatica) and in late spring and early summer it was an absolute stormer for chicken of the woods (Laetiporus

Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica).  October 2013.

Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica). October 2013.

sulphureus). The boletes did OK but that’s all, which was a little disappointing given their poor showing the last two years, and most species put on at least a reasonable display relative to their average frequency. It’s always a poor year for something though, and 2013 was a fallow year for the shaggy parasols, which took a rest after their stellar performance in 2012. It was also notably bad for the usually-prolific wood blewit (Clitocybe nuda), as well as many of their relatives. I didn’t see a single specimen of the deadly fool’s funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa), for example.

Details of next year’s sessions/prices, including a series of suppers/talks in the evenings, are now available from the menu above.

This will be my last blog post for a little while, because I’ve recently bought a new house and I have a lot of work to do sorting out a vegetable plot and building a pond and rockery. Enjoy your Christmas and New Year.


Honey Fungus: Armillaria on the march

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
Phone: 07964 569715


Temperatures across the UK have plunged several degrees. It was T-shirt weather just two days ago, but I needed a coat this morning. The first major fall of leaves is also underway in the deep south, and there has been a changing of the mushroom guard as the late summer species fade away and the mid-autumn species make their first appearance.

I saw clouded funnel (Clitocybe nebularis) for the first time yesterday, which generally marks the halfway point in the progression of autumn-fruiting fungi. This species likes growing right next to roads and is recognisable as you drive past at 60mph, which leaves little doubt about just how common it is. It never has an off-year. Shame it smells of vomit! Anyway…it reliably turns up at the mid-point of the mushroom season and that is right now.

A wide selection of Tricholomas have also appeared in the last few days, along with another species which never has an off-year: honey fungus (Armillaria) is so super-abundant as to make even the displays of Clouded Funnel look sparse. Combined with the fact it is a virulent parasite and serious forestry/horticultural pest, this means that unlike so many other good edible fungi, foragers can eat Honey Fungus to their heart’s content with absolutely no worries about sustainability or the ethics of taking lots of stuff. The only problem with taking too much of this one is that you might end up with more than you can consume, and you absolutely do not want to be putting any on your compost heap – not if you value the trees and shrubs in your garden, anyway.

Armillaria mellea ("true" Honey Fungus) on the march. Mid-October 2013

Armillaria mellea (“true” Honey Fungus) on the march. Mid-October 2013

I can’t help but associate the word “army” with “Armillaria”; the fruit bodies seem to march across some logs and stumps just like an army on the move. In many cases this fungus will have been the cause of death of those trees – it is one of the few organisms which is both parasitic and saprophytic – capable of killing a living tree and then continuing to feast on its corpse. If you fancy feasting in turn on it then make sure you cook it well and be aware that some people suffer gastric problems after consuming it. My favourite way to cook it is in the roasting dish with a fatty joint of meat, or fried for ten minutes in bacon fat. Long cooking reduces the chance of a reaction, apparently. Either way, it is very tasty.

“Armillaria” does not have any connection with armies, by the way. It derives from the latin “armilla”, meaning “bracelet” and refering to the bracelet-like ring on the stem (see picture). This is one of the identifying features of the species (although there is a ringless form). It’s not the easiest fungi to identify, owing to there being so many other species which grow in great tufts from decaying logs. The pattern on the cap is probably the most helpful indicator, but my advice is just to look at quite a few pictures on the internet and keep your eyes peeled for the next couple of weeks. You will soon learn how to recognise it, and once it is familiar then the only thing you might get it mixed up with is one of the Pholiota species, none of which are seriously poisonous, although some of them don’t mix well with alcohol.

Geoff at a fungi talk and tasting session at The Garden House, Brighton.  October 2013.

The author at a fungi talk and tasting session at The Garden House, Brighton. October 2013.

2013 is also (apparently) turning out to be a vintage year for the chanterelle family.  I’ve been seeing considerably more chanterelles (Cantherellus cibarius) than normal, winter chanterelles (Craterellus tubaeformis) have appeared earlier than normal, yesterday’s group of foraging students happened across a the largest fruiting of horns of plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides) I’ve ever seen and we also found the very rare velvet chanterelle (Cantherellus friesii). To top it all, somebody posted a picture yesterday at Wild Mushrooms Online of the even rarer ashen chanterelle (Cantherellus cinereus).

As a final note I’d just like to thank The Garden House for hosting a highly enjoyable fungi talk last Friday, a review of which can be found here.