Thursday, 4 September 2008

First fungal foray

I paid a visit to Drumboe wood, which is usually quite good for fungi. (If you're looking for good fungi, then choose the oldest deciduous woodand you can find, the older the better: some fungi are successional, and it can take centuries for those down the dependency chain to grace a woodland with their presence.)

One of the most elegant fungi is the Porcelain Fungus - Oudemansiella mucida. The cap is so thin it transmits light through the pearly flesh. Pictures hardly do them justice:

These only grow on dead Beech branches, and usually a metre or so above ground level. They make a wonderful undershot with light behind them:

I find these Cortinarius sp. in the same place every year (this is a common experience with fungi, since their mycelium is static, and they often pop up the same spot year after year.) No id, yet (Corts are a notoriously difficult group). The cap is extremely viscid:

The Common Earthball - Scleroderma citrinum - is easier to identify:

One of the most common Russulas is Russula ochroleuca: I find it on virtually every foray. It's a broadleaf associate.

A record shot of the Blusher - Amanita rubescens. There were quite a few of these, all knocked over by hungry slugs or snails. This fungus is poisonous, as are most of the Amanitas, and some are deadly.

Talking about deadly fungi, you might have seen in the press that a well known writer was poisoned (and how!.....serious - perhaps permanent - kidney damage) by the deadly fungus Cortinarius speciosus. He is apparently a regular mushroom hunter and was on holiday in the north of Scotland when the incident happened. I found the best pictures on the web to be:


Now I simply wouldn't eat that regardless of what I thought it was (it shouts out Cort to me), so it must have been confused with something else. The Chanterelle has been suggested as a possible confusion species. Not to my eyes! I suppose it just might have been taken along with a batch of Lactarius sp, some of which are edible, or maybe Brown Roll Rim (which has recently been reclassified as deadly, anyway!).

The bottom line is: don't eat wild fungi unless you absolutely know what you're doing. I play safe with fungi that can't reasonably be confused with anything else...Chanterelle, Horn of Plenty, Cep, Hedgehog. I have also taken a few Millers (the best of all fungi) in my time. But that's one where you have to be absolutely absolutely sure, because Clitocybe dealbata looks very like it and grows in the same sort of environments, and is deadly. Smell is the clue with the smells of meal, although I reckon I can get notes of metallic fish oil, too.


Gill said...

Nice pics, especially that porcelain one - must look for that.

I've got lots of yellow russulas too, which are probably the smae one, but I'm not confident enough to go beyond Russula sp.

And, no, I wouldn't dream of eating anything I wasn't absolutely sure of - though I would add wood blewit, parasol and giant puffball to your list of safe ones, along with field and horse mushrooms so long as you're 100% certain of the id. I just wish I could find chanterelles round me....

[incidentally the jumps to those pics didn't work for me.]

Stuart said...

There are 2 possibilites for the bright yellow Russula. The cuticle peels to 66% for R. Ochroleuca (and the edge of the cap is striate - just visible in my pic). Cuticle peels to 50% for R. claroflava.

Wood blewit is safe and (mostly) identifiable (there is a purple/pink poisonous Cort that looks just like it, but the spores are brown, as in all Corts). I just don't like the taste.

Giant puffball is safe when young and white. I don't see too many of those, although a gentleman brought one to me yesterday. When I told him it was edible, he took it away with him..:(

Parasol yes...those should also have been on my list.

Field and Horse mushrooms require careful testing just in case they're wrong (I brought home a whole bag of 'field mushrooms'a couple of years ago, only to find the stem bases went yellow when cut, making them the poisonous Agaricus xanthodermus.)

Links to pics work fine for me. (Firefox 3.0.1)

Gill said...

not for me they don't, in IE or FF. The line

...and the other one...

just show as black text, no link. (Try logging out and visiting 'cold').

Stuart said...

Ah..I hadn't actually made them hyperlinks. (I have now). I was being lazy and just expected people to select, copy, paste in browser address bar. Ok, now?

Gill said...

yep :-)