Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Today I spotted some mushrooms in the woods and I thought they might be Wood Blewits. They were growing near an old pile of wood-chippings, under deciduous trees. The tops were greyish lilac and slightly wavy, the gills pale and the stems mottled with a brighter purple. I took one as a sample so that I could do a spore print (results to follow), and as soon as I got back from my little foray I consulted Rogers Mushrooms. As usual, when I got my results from the easy key I was filled with doubt. What I had thought were fairly easily identified common edible mushrooms could actually be pretty much anything...
I'm a cautious forager. Since I've been actively studying fungi I've not found any that I'm confident enough to eat. The only ones I've been able to identify with certainty were Fly Agaric - the classic red and white toadstools of fairy tales (eating them didn't even cross my mind...).
I don’t actually like mushrooms that much as food, so you may wonder why I’m bothering to learn about them at all. Well, apart from the fact that fungi are absolutely fascinating and often very beautiful, for me foraging isn’t just about finding food - it’s about learning and exploring. It's a treasure hunt. Finding interesting and useful things satisfies my hunter-gatherer instinct. I think that's also why I enjoy photography - with a camera I gather information and I collect memories of things I've seen or made.