Tag Archives: craterellus tubaeformis

November foraging: beauty in a basket

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
Phone: 07964 569715


November collection

November collection

After a stupidly dry September and a stupidly warm October, the weather has finally returned to something resembling normal, and the fungi are now also back to something resembling normal. And in November, that means a riot of spectacular colour. It’s as if the fungi are competing with the deciduous trees: “So you think you’re putting on a bit of a show, do you? Well, see what we can do!” With the exception of some very large and rather ancient (but still edible) chanterelles and hedgehogs, all the species in this basket are typical November species. Well, the prince and the blusher can appear at any time from late summer right through until now, but the rest are late season specialists. The winter chanterelles were a couple of weeks later than normal and are only just coming through strongly in the last few days, those are the first decent crop of blewits I’ve seen south of Northamptonshire this year, there’s a solitary trooping funnel in there and a couple of bay boletes (not a good year for either of those two species, which are both normally abundant in November). The pistachio-coloured orange and green things are saffron milkcaps, but even their rather striking colour scheme cannot compete with the most beautiful of all the edible fungi: the waxcaps (snowy, crimson, scarlet and golden).

I am expecting the next fortnight to be very good for fungi, after the main part of the season was disappointing at best, and largely dismal.

Scarlet Waxcaps

Late autumn messes with the mushrooms

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
Phone: 07964 569715


I have been putting off blogging, waiting for the autumn that still hasn’t come. We are now two days away from November, and I am still walking around in not much more than a T-shirt. And it has been a weird year for fungi.

Penny Bun, Larch Bolete and masses of The Miller, bucking the general trend for this autumn.

Penny Bun, Larch Bolete and masses of The Miller, bucking the general trend for this autumn.

The end of August and start of September were superb – plenty of boletes around, including some rare ones, as well as russulas and amanitas and all manner of late summer and early autumn species. Then it all went wrong. After the driest September on record, by early October there was very little in the way of fungi to be found, and I was praying for rain. But the rains, when they finally came at the start of October, did not bring a glut of fungi. In fact for two weeks it seemed to make no difference at all – still no mushrooms, just a bit more mud. Then finally, a couple of weeks ago, there was some sort of recovery, although it is incredibly patchy, both in terms of locations and selection of species. This photo of one small area where several species were fruiting in abundance was the exception to the rule, and may have been partly caused by the fact the nearby larch trees were dying – apparently sometimes symbiotic fungi go a bit crazy if they their partner trees are dying.  (Although The Miller (Clitopilus prunulus) is one of the few species that has been doing better than normal.)  Anyway, as things stand, with temperatures still considerably higher than normal for this time of year, there are still great swathes of woodland where there are almost no fungi at all. In some other locations there is quite a lot of stuff to be found, but even in those places there are all sorts of things that are still missing, or doing very badly indeed.

Macrolepiota konradii, fruiting abundantly in October 2014

Macrolepiota konradii, fruiting abundantly in October 2014

One group that is doing very well indeed are the parasols – all of them. There has been a second flush of “normal” parasol mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera), including some very large specimens, the shaggy parasols (Chlorophyllum rhacodes) are doing well, and their more obscure relatives such as Macrolepiota konradii, with its distinctive star-patterned cap, are all having their best year in a long time. Other exceptions to the general malaise are the Suillus species, especially the Larch Bolete (S. grevellei).

Only in the last two days have I begun to see a more general improvement, although I say these words with trepidation and wouldn’t be remotely surprised if it’s just another blip. I have, however, seen winter chanterelles (Craterellus tubaeformis) and Jersey Cow Boletes (Suillus bovinus) starting to come through in some places. These are later-season fruiters.

What is going to happen next? I wish I knew. I’m hoping that once the temperature drops – as it must surely do some time very soon – we are going to have a massive glut of fungi, as loads of species that have been waiting for their moment all go for it at the same time. But since predicting what the fungi are going to do is a mug’s game, I’m not going to predict that. 2014 might yet just turn out to be a poor year for fungi. We will see. Soon, hopefully…

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.


Winter Chanterelles: what would I do in November without them?

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
Phone: 07964 569715


When the days have got shorter and the wind and rain have chased the fair-weather foragers back to their cosy living rooms, when the chanterelles have all been picked and any penny buns still standing are just hollow, grub-filled shells, when the deciduous trees have dropped most of their leaves and the mainstream modern world has turned the central heating on and is looking forward to Christmas…is mushroom season over? Hell, no it isn’t!

White Saddle (Helvella crispa) having a storming 2013.  These usually turn up as singletons, but have been trooping in large numbers this year.

White Saddle (Helvella crispa) having a storming 2013. These usually turn up as singletons, but have been trooping in large numbers this year.

I nearly didn’t post this. I sat in the bath for a while and mulled it over. Do I really want to tell people this? Wouldn’t it be better just to keep quiet about it and post something about what an extraordinary year it has been for the strange, recently-declared-toxic White Saddle (Helvella crispa) instead? But then I concluded that not enough people read my blog to make any significant impact on the greatest fungal bounty the British countryside has to offer, especially since it involves people trudging around in the mud in search of something that most of them probably wouldn’t notice if it was right in front of them. And yet it ranks right up there among the best of the edible wild fungi and in a good year it fruits in such wild abundance that it would take an army of foragers to pick even half of them.

Now that mushroom foraging has really taken off in the UK it is not so easy to find Chanterelles (Cantherellus cibarius). They are, after all, bright yellow-orange and can be spotted from 40 metres if your vision is any good. I mean…there’s not that many brightly coloured objects scattered around on the woodland floor and everybody who has ever taken an interest in wild fungi knows what a chanterelle looks like. Plus they grow when you can still go mushrooming in a T-shirt. Far fewer people ever go looking for their late-season cousins, regardless of the fact that they outnumber the apricot-scented chanterelle by a factor of at least a thousand.

Winter Chanterelle (Craterellus tubaeformis). Early November 2013.

Winter Chanterelle (Craterellus tubaeformis). Early November 2013.

I am talking, of course, about Craterellus tubaeformis, otherwise known as the Winter Chanterelle, Trumpet Chanterelle or Yellowleg (or unhelpfully and confusingly called a Chanterelle, as it is in France, by people who also call Chanterelles by the French name “Girolle”). They are the sort of thing you probably wouldn’t notice at all unless you were looking for them. They are grey-brown, rather ragged and very well camouflaged. They also like to grow under bracken in inaccessible places. However, if you do happen to spot one then you stand a very good chance of finding as many more of them as you have the time and inclination to pick, and that is especially true right now. 2013 has been a vintage year for the whole of the Cantherellaceae family, so it comes as no surprise that it is proving to be a vintage year for C. tubaeformis.

What do you do with them? Well, first you have to take them home and carefully clean them. This requires the removal of the stem bases (if you weren’t sensible/patient enough to do that before you put them in your basket), then the use of a brush or nimble fingers to get rid of pine needles and bits of bracken. You’ll also need to tear open the bigger ones because they tend to accumulate debris and small animals inside their tubular stems. They have a taste which is both strong and delicate. Not overpowering, but enough to impart a lovely flavour to anything you might cook them with which isn’t already overpoweringly strong-tasting.  They make a great addition to spaghetti bolognese, but if you want to try something a bit more adventurous then I can heartily recommend the wild mushroom and leek tart posted on our sister site Charmed Pot, which would work perfectly well with 100% Winter Chanterelles, although there are still Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum) about.

Winter chanterelles in abundance. These were picked on the first day I had a customer fail to turn up for a foraging session.  And it was at a location chosen by himself! Bad move.

Winter chanterelles in abundance. These were picked on the first day I had a customer fail to turn up for a foraging session. And it was at a location chosen by himself! Bad move.

As for identification problems, there isn’t much you could get these mixed up with. Maybe some of the small milkcaps, which don’t taste nice but won’t do you any harm. They are rather variable, both in size and shape, but they occur in such prodigious numbers that it shouldn’t take you long to familiarise yourself with all the variation they have to offer. All you’ve got to is find that first one.

Provided it doesn’t get really cold (serious frosts) before then, I expect to keep finding this species right through until the end of November and beyond. They will run out of steam before Christmas even if it hasn’t got seriously cold by then.