Tag Archives: Parasol mushroom

New foraging camp at Mill Wood up and running. Extra date added.

Email: geoff@geoffdann.co.uk

22/08/2018

Basecamp at Mill Wood, brand new kettle on the fire

We’ve spent the last couple of days setting up the basecamp for some foraging events in a new location, the first time we’ve run anything like this. If today was anything to go by, these are going to be very interesting sessions. This secluded, and rather overgrown, private woodland in East Sussex has a rather strange history, having been turned from ancient woodland into a pig farm which apparently wasn’t a success, before being left for nature to reclaim it for a few years. It was purchased by an old friend of mine last autumn, and the first thing he told me about it was that it looked really good for fungi. And it seems he was right.

Basecamp at Mill Wood, Chicken of the Woods in the foreground

Yesterday, after 3 hours of messing around with different trees and ropes, we finally managed to get an 8x6m tarpaulin set up to our satisfaction, and today we set up a smaller tarp to protect the fire in wet weather, and had a first go at using our new cooking equipment. I also spent some time looking around the woodland for fungi, and ended up finding so much within 200 metres of the base camp that I had no need (or time) to foray further afield. The area I was looking in is mainly oak, birch and hazel, but there’s plenty of sweet chestnut and other trees which probably had an even greater selection of fungi. There were several edible species within a few metres of the tarp, including a Penny Bun (Boletus edulis) which one us unfortunately trod on, two Chicken of the Woods, several edible Brittlegills and some other edible boletes. A large flush of Weeping Widow (Lacrymaria lacrymabunda) wasn’t much further away.

Weeping Widow (Lacrymaria lacrymabunda)

I also came across a real oddity. I was looking around in the immediate area of the base for logs suitable to be used as seating. There are a lot of logs round there that look like stumps, because they’ve been there for so long, so anything that looks like an attached stump was worth wobbling, to see if it was loose. One of these I turned over, and to my great surprise there were some fungi fruiting underneath it. Without my reading glasses to hand, it was not at all obvious what they were, especially as this is a very strange habitat for any fungi to be fruiting in. I guessed they might be some sort of earthstar, took a photo, and continued searching for seating.

Something mysterious no longer lurking under a log.

Only when I got home and looked at the hi-res photos did it become clear what they are. These are very young Blushers (Amanita rubescens), just emerging from their universal veil. You can tell this by the pink discolouration, and the veil remnants on their emerging caps. But this is still a mystery, because it is not at all clear why they’d be fruiting under a log that looked like it had been there for several years. Fungi normally fruit where the mycelium detects lights (so if you have an infected damp beam in your loft, the fungi will grow down into your bedroom rather than up into the dark loft). So why would an Amanita mycelium try to fruit under a log? If the mycelium was only under the log, and not the surrounding area, how did it get there?

Soft Puffballs (Lycoperdon molle), looking very much like Meadow Puffballs (L. pratense), but this is the wrong habitat for that species.

Amanita at this stage have been confused for puffballs in the past, and in some cases this has led to serious poisonings when the Amanita in question was a Deathcap. It is easy to see how somebody might have made such a mistake. There were some puffballs around today too,  growing on a thin layer of soil that had accumulated on what looked like hardboard covering some sort of pit. These are Soft Puffball (Lycoperdon molle).

The Blusher (Amanita rubescens)

Anyway, I am now very much looking forwards to these sessions, and I have now added a new one to the original two (see below for details). They will be approximately 4 hours long, starting at 10.30. We’ll start by exploring the area nearest the basecamp, which I’ll have scouted out beforehand. We’ll then take our finds back to the base to have a good look at them and make sure everybody knows how they were identified, and then have a wild-mushroom-based lunch. After that we will head out for a second forage, this time going further afield into areas I will have not scouted beforehand, so I won’t know what we’re going to find, or where. Finally we will return to the base, go through what we found, and we will cook up all the finds on the campfire.

These sessions are an introductory price of £45 this year (they will be £65 next year). At the time of writing, there’s only one place left on Saturday September 22nd, and 5 places on Sunday October 21st. I have now added a midweek date on Thursday October 4th.

Fungi season 2018 is now up and running and it is looking good. Have fun and stay safe!

Geoff

Parasol (Macrolepiota procera)

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), one of many.

Late autumn messes with the mushrooms

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
Phone: 07964 569715

29/10/2014

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…

Autumn arrives in Britain – It’s Mushroomtime…

07/09/2013

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! 🙂

Geoff

 

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