Tag Archives: Leccinum scabrum

Hazel Boletes going nuts

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
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Hazel Boletes, early September 2015

Hazel Boletes, early September 2015

Mushroom season is now well underway, at least in more open areas. I came across my first Penny Bun of the autumn today, as well as my first Fly Agaric. Plenty of other stuff is also just starting to appear. And one species in particular is going bonkers, at least in my corner of the south-east.

Every year is different for fungi – some species do well, others do poorly, and its usually not obvious why. This year, at least at this early point in the season, it is the turn of a mushroom

Brown Birch Bolete

Brown Birch Bolete

that’s normally rather scarce and very frequently misidentified by foragers, even though a big clue in the name ought to make it easier to get right.

One of the first edible species most mushroom foragers learn and go looking for is a rather squidgy and tasteless brown bolete called Leccinum scabrum – the Brown Birch Bolete. It is popular with beginners not because it is any sort of delicacy, but because it is widespread, common and completely impossible to confuse with anything poisonous. I haven’t seen any of

Hazel Bolete - mature specimen from 2014

Hazel Bolete – mature specimen from 2014

them at all so far this year, but I have seen a vast number of one of its relatives. There are several similar species, all of them brown-capped members of the same genus, and for many years I just called all of them “brown birch boletes” and paid little attention to the fact that not all of them were growing with birch trees (in fact, not even all of the brown Leccinums found under birch trees are actually L. scabrum, but let’s keep this simple…)

The species that’s going bonkers is called a Hazel Bolete (Leccinum pseudoscabrum), and it

Hazel Bolete, final colour after 20 minutes exposed to the air

Hazel Bolete, final colour after 20 minutes exposed to the air

grows under (you guessed it) Hazels, and also Hornbeam. It differs from the Brown Birch Bolete in two other obvious ways – firstly it has a cap that is noticeably dented or wrinkled when young, and eventually darkens and cracks. And secondly when you cut it open and expose the flesh to air it slowly turns brown, then dark purple, ending up almost black.

From a foraging point of view it’s not a delicacy either, although it is better than the Brown Birch Bolete when young and firm. Can be rescued with a bit of butter, garlic and parsley, and right now there’s so many of them about that you needn’t feel guilty about picking them for the pot.

Happy hunting and keep safe,


Autumn arrives in Britain – It’s Mushroomtime…


As anyone in rural areas of the north will not need to be told, yesterday autumn arrived in Britain, with a splash. The temperature dropped by about ten degrees in most places, and nearly everywhere had a very welcome downpour. We’ve just had the best summer since 2006, but it does now look as if it’s over. Hopefully (from my point of view anyway) there will be no repeats of the misplaced October heatwave we were subjected to in 2011.

7th September 2013, Sussex.

7th September 2013, Sussex.

It’s also perfect timing in terms of fungi. The first big flush of autumn species had just started poking their heads above ground in the last few days, and the change in the weather means they won’t get dried out and with a bit of luck they will start fruiting in abundance. Today was my first (advertised as) peak session with a group of foraging students, and it produced my first decent basketful of English wild mushrooms of 2013 (we are about 3 or 4 weeks behind northern Scotland down here on the south coast).

We found in excess of forty species altogether, and if I include a couple I found before the session officially started, the list of edible species found today is as follows:

Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera), ruby bolete (Xerocomus rubellus), larch bolete (Suillus grevellei), bay bolete (Boletus badius), the blusher (Amanita rubescens), tawny grisette (Amanita fulva), brown birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum), blackening russula (Russula nigricans), rooting shank (Oudemansiella radicata), orange oak bolete (Leccinum aurantiacum), velvet russula (Russula violiepes), the miller (Clitopilus prunulus), blushing wood mushroom (Agaricus silvaticus), honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) and chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus).

Now is the time to book if you want to go mushrooming with an expert this autumn! 🙂



Welcome to my new website

Posted 23/03/2013.

Peak of the mushroom season 2011:

Late November 2011, as the mushroom season peaked.  Normally its earlier, but October 2011 was far too hot and dry for fungi.

Late November 2011, as the mushroom season peaked. Normally it’s earlier, but October 2011 was far too hot and dry for fungi.

These fungi, all of which are edible, were all collected in one afternoon at various locations throughout Sussex.  It’s not a normal day’s haul, either in terms of variety or quantity.  Days like this only come around once in a couple of years, when the conditions are just right.  It also helped that the peak of the season was late in 2011, and I already knew where to go to find a lot of this stuff.  I also ought to admit that some of them were picked more for their aesthetic qualities (I wanted a good picture!) than their desirability for eating.  I should also assure people that I did not strip the locations concerned of all the edible fungi.  No more than 50% of the fruting bodies were taken.  There just happened to be fungi all over the place that day, and the situation was also helped by the fact that the peak was late that year, and that many would-be foragers had given up on the mushrooms that year after the worst October for fungi that I can remember.

Roughly left-to-right, and top-to-bottom:

Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)
Cauliflower fungus (Sparassis crispa)
Trooping funnel (Clitocybe geotropa)
Boletus luridiformis
Penny bun (Boletus edulis)
Shaggy inkcap (Coprinus comatus)
Common puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)
Macrolepiota konradii
Slippery jack (Suillus luteus)
Jersey cow colete (Suillus bovinus)
Wood blewit (Clitocybe nuda)
Porcelain fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)
Meadow puffball (Lycoperdon pratense)
Amethyst deceiver (Laccaria amethystea)
The miller (Clitopilus prunulus)
Peppery bolete (Chalciporus piperatus)
Brown birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum)
Tawny funnel (Clitocybe flaccida)
Field mushroom (Agaricus campestris)
Clitocybe sordida
Agaricus lanipes