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Foraging for Mushrooms

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 1 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
Mushrooms Foraging Picking Fungi Grow

Many types of mushrooms grow wild across most parts of the UK, from the north of Scotland right down to Cornwall. There is a huge variety of edible mushrooms to choose from, and the New Forest in Hampshire has one of the biggest ranges of mushrooms in the UK.

When you first go mushrooming, make sure you take an expert and an up to date field guide with you. There are hundreds of delicious mushrooms available to pick wild from many areas, however there are also many poisonous varieties growing in the UK. Poisonous mushrooms can cause hallucinations, upset stomachs and even kill you.

Where to Find Mushrooms

Mushrooms first appear in September, and the season is short, lasting just a few weeks. Mushrooms are normally found in areas that provide the best conditions for them to grow in, e.g. areas that are warm and damp. They are often found at the base of many trees, and areas containing rotting wood. Woodlands and dense copses provide some of the best conditions for mushrooms to grow in, as they have plenty of trees, rotting wood and also rotting leaves, which the fungi also grow in.

Fungi thrive in mossy areas, and places, which have had little disturbance. Also look for mushrooms in fields next to woods – the mycelium will travel from the woods to grow in the fields. Old land is also likely to yield many mushrooms.

Dry, and sandy areas are less likely to have mushrooms growing on them, and rocky areas are also inhabitable for fungi. Similarly overgrown areas will prevent mycelium from growing and newly cultivated land does not provide ideal growing conditions for mushrooms.

Picking Mushrooms

When picking mushrooms, it is important to observe codes of conduct to ensure the fungi and local environment are not damaged and to ensure the mushrooms continue to grow for years to come.

If you are picking mushrooms on private land, always get permission from the landowner beforehand. Follow the country code; close gates behind you, take your litter with you and try not to tread on, or disturb wild flowers, which are important to the local ecology. Avoid moving dead wood, as this can disturb wildlife, such as stag beetles, which are endangered.

The best time to pick mushroom is first thing in the morning, when they are fresh and least likely to have been attacked by pests such as slugs and maggots. You should take with you a knife to cut the mushrooms with, a basket to carry them in, a brush to clean them with and a field guide to identify them with. To cut the fungi and cause the least damage to the fungi threads, cut it at the base with a clean, sharp knife.

Only collect a few mushrooms from each ‘troop’; never take the whole lot, as this can prevent them from reproducing and growing in the same spot the following year. Never pick species that are on the Mushroom Red List of rare species, as this can put the species in serious danger of extinction.

Picking mushrooms is a fun and worthwhile activity. There are plenty of different types of mushrooms available to pick, with a variety of tastes and textures. Always take an expert and a field guide with you when picking mushrooms, and abide by the codes of conduct to ensure you don’t harm the local environment and wildlife.

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@Amy - Lepiota (Dapperlings) which look like smaller versions of Parasols have an approx 7cm diametre. They can be very poisonous - so only pick Parasol mushrooms that are at least 12cm in diameter. False Parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites) is mainly North American. It can cause severe gastrointestinal diarrhea and/or vomiting if ingested, although they are pretty rare in the UK. Good to always check, check and triple check.
JoJo - 3-Sep-18 @ 12:53 PM
Hello, Im wanting some advice please,ive found a fungi/mushroom in my garden...ive been searching on the internet and it seems as its a false parasol mushroom,from what i have read its poisonous,additional to this i have also read that it is rare in the uk I would be grateful for any advice. Thanks Amy ladley
Amy - 1-Sep-18 @ 11:23 AM
Perthshire is fab for picking mushrooms.I went on a course years ago run by Patrick Harding, who now comes up to us to lead a Crieff based class.easily over 100 species of mushrooms are found each year, which at least 10 being edible.Definitely need to know what you are doing, i try to add one more edible one with confidence each year that we run the class!
katy - 6-Jun-12 @ 2:52 PM
Regarding your article on mushroom foraging,The season for mushrooms is far longer than a few weeks in september. Mushrooms are availible all year round. Some of the edibles currently (winter) are oyster mushrooms, judas' ear and velvet shank. All relatively common and easy to identify. I can't stress enough however the need to properly identify what mushrooms you pick or consider picking for both your own safety and the conservation of species.
Mushroom forager - 2-Jan-12 @ 11:52 PM
Thanks for the information about mushroom picking-surprised at how many varieties can be picked-always thought mushroom choice belonged to the French.
Craig - 6-Nov-11 @ 4:18 PM
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