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A Scottish Foraging Odyssey Week 1 (A Trio of Fungi)

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 12:19 pm
by Oink
Hi All,

I'm very new here so I hope folks don't mind me jumping in feet first and making a contribution. My passions are many and varied, but the thing I love to do the most is forage wild foods. I consider myself an amateur forager only so please dont take my ID's and advice as gospel. Please research for yourselves as I only really intend to offer folks a starting point based around my own experiences.

I will attempt to keep a weekly post at the weekends so this week I'm fashionably a day late. Oops!

I welcome all feedback, advice, tips or requests so please don't be shy.

So, lets begin.....

Week 1

Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea)

This is the marmite of edible fungi. Let me explain.....

If like me you love discovering and eating new wild foods then the Honey Fungus at this time of year is relatively abundant in woodland around the UK. A fine edible specimen that works well in recipes like casseroles where the mucus they exude whilst cooking acts a thickener for the sauce. In Russia it is prized enough to have a pierogi (dumpling) dish based around it.

If like myself you also love trees then this fungi's edibility comes at a price! It is responsible for Armillaria root rot, a disease that for trees is often eventually the kiss of death. Nature eh, she gives and she takes. Cest la Vie!

Here is the specimen I discovered earlier this week.....


So what makes this a Honey Fungus?

1) It grows on wood (I know this isn't apparent from my photograph, but trust me!)

2) It always grows in clusters. I have never found an isolated lonesome Honey Fungi.

3) If you look very closely at the caps it is slightly fuzzy/hairy. This is a definite hallmark of Armillaria mellea.

4) Underneath it has gills that run down the stipe slightly to a faint but most definite ring around the stipe.

5) Finally a spore print will give you white spores.

FINALLY - I repeat myself but it is imperative that my ID is taken as a starting point only. Please do your own research!

NOTE - People have mistaken Honey Fungus for Galerina marginata which is poisonous so please take care with this shroom. Perhaps not a shroom for the newbie mycologist.

Shaggy Inkcaps (Coprinus comatus)

A shroom that can be sought out by newbies providing you are absolutely certain that you have Shaggy Inkcaps and not Magpie Inkcaps. Just a little research and confidence in IDing this shroom and all will be fine.

Here are the beauties found earlier in the week.....


These must be picked and eaten the same day really. They may last a day in the fridge but there are no guarantees. The reason for speedily cooking and eating them is that they very quickly deliquesce (turn to liquid).

Regarding the inkcap it didnt get its name by acident. It can indeed be made into excellent ink if water and cloves are added, then heated. Recipes are to found online for anybody interested in self sufficient ink.

It really is a beautiful fungi and well worth the research to seek it out for your good selves.

Hedgehog Fungus (Hydnum repandum)

Truly a newbie shroom as this has no poisonous lookalikes in the UK.

Here she is.....


And underneath.....


The spines on the underside are the ID point to note here. At this time of year there are many gilled varieties of fungi to pick and many different honeycombed boletes, but this is the only shroom that looks like this with spikes.

Please research for yourselves, but this is a simple shroom for newbies to ID and eat. Trust me!

Thats it for this week. I hope that somebody feels inspired to go out shroom hunting.

Until next week,


Oink. :icon_smile:

Re: A Scottish Foraging Odyssey Week 1 (A Trio of Fungi)

Posted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:52 am
by Smilesbetter
Thanks for posting, I really enjoyed reading it! I'm a total mushroom newbie haha but would love to learn more about them so I can pick my own. Think I might do some more research into the shaggy I kcal and give making some ink a go if I can find some locally.

Looking forward to seeing more of your posts!

Re: A Scottish Foraging Odyssey Week 1 (A Trio of Fungi)

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 8:32 am
by Zech
These are all more-or-less new to me - I have seen shaggy inkcaps once, but they were well on their way to becoming ink by the time I saw them. However, thanks to your excellent photos and notes, I recognised honey fungus when I was out foraging yesterday. Before, I might just have put it down as one of those little brown toadstools that I don't yet know, but it looked just like your photo, so I cut some and brought them home. I then spent quite a lot of time consulting various sources to check I'd got the right thing, finishing with a spore print to make sure it wasn't the shaggy scalycap (Pholiota squarrosa), which does look quite similar in some photos. Mind you, descriptions of the scalycap's edibility ranged from, "Edible but bitter," (these weren't bitter), through, "Used to be thought edible but isn't," to, "Will cause gastric symptoms," so I wasn't overly worried about that misidentification.

I then disregarded all your sage advice about tasting cautiously, and spread them all over my pizza, which was delicious!

Re: A Scottish Foraging Odyssey Week 1 (A Trio of Fungi)

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:15 pm
by Oink
Zech - I'm glad you brought them home and did loads more research. Wise move!

Eating with gusto on your first sitting though is unwise!

Let me relay a story.....

In 2004 when that years edition of the Encyclopedia of Fungi was launched, 60 journalists were invited for lunch at the launch. Laetiporus sulphureu (Chicken of the Woods) was on the menu.

An hour after ingestion 6 of the 60 journalists became ill - vomiting, cyanosed, sweating, icy cold, raised pulse, and understandably frightened. The remaining 54 suffered no ill effects.

The doctor who attended diagnosed a severe allergic reaction and the symptoms subsided after about 2 hours.

A toxicology investigation since carried out at The University of Berkeley, California has confirmed that 10% of people have this allergic reaction to Chicken of the Woods.

The warning is simple - eat only a very small amount of any new edible fungi on the first occasion!

Extra Warning - Fungi found on Yew and other Taxus species even if edible on other trees can be deadly if eaten!

Never, ever take the risk! Stick to the fungi rules and stay safe.

Regards, Oink. :)

Re: A Scottish Foraging Odyssey Week 1 (A Trio of Fungi)

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:37 pm
by Zech
I certainly respect the wisdom of your advice, I just take more risks with my own health than is generally considered sensible. I don't advise anyone to follow my lead!

I do avoid anything growing on yew, though, and I'd probably check trees I wasn't sure of. These were growing on birch, which I know is safe to tap for sap, so I was pretty confident the tree wouldn't poison me.

Re: A Scottish Foraging Odyssey Week 1 (A Trio of Fungi)

Posted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:22 pm
by Sally S
Great thread, thank you.