The Mushroom Table - Masthead

Wild Mushrooms

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Chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphuraeus)
- A golden yellow and orange bracket fungus with the texture of chicken breast. It grows on a range of trees, but is most common on oak. It appears on the sunny side of tree trunks, often shortly after the first heavy rains in late summer.
Beefsteak (Fistulina hepatica)
- A dark red tongue shaped bracket fungus with creamy white pores on the underside. When it is cut open it resembles a piece of steak with white veins running through the red flesh. It has a soft meaty texure and a rich wild mushroom flavour. The best specimens come from ancient oak trees, but it can also be found on the old stumps of chestnut coppices. It is found in sheltered sites in the autumn and early winter.
Honey fungus (Armillaria mellea)
- Honey fungus is a parasite of trees and shrubs. It is common in gardens and forests where it readily parasitises non-native trees and shrubs, often killing them. This mushroom appears in great abundance in mid-October on and around infected trees. There are a number of forms, sometimes regarded as separate species. The commonest form develops as dense clumps of honey coloured caps of long thin stems, which are velevety black at the bottom. These clumps form on the trunk and the large roots near the surface. Another common form produces mushrooms singly or in small clumps which have darker caps and short fat stems. This form usually appears on the ground around infected trees arising from the smaller roots. The stems are fibrous so only the caps are eaten which have a soft crunchy texture and rich flavour.
Belwits (Lepista nuda, L. suaeva, L. sordida)
- Blewits appear in early winter after the leaves have fallen and the first frosts have been. The field blewit, which has a thick, creamy brown, cap on a stout, violet, stem, grows in rings in short grass, often near trees. The wood blewit is pale violet all over, sometimes with a darker brown cap the colour of fallen leaves, is found amongst the fallen leaves under trees, especially oak and holly. The less common Lepista sordida is purple all over and is found in small troops under trees and shrubs. Blewits have a strong, almost perfumed mushroom flavour and a soft texture.
Parasols (Macrolepiota spp.)
- Parasols are a group of creamy white mushrooms with long thin stems and large umbrella shaped caps. They have a soft meaty texture and a delicate mushroom flavour. The Parasol, Macrolepiota procera, which grows in meadows and woodland margins, appears in late summer and early autumn. It is distinguished from other parasols by the brown scales which form snake skin like pattern on the stem. The Shaggy Parasol, Macrolepiota rhacodes, grows in open woods and woodland margins, appears later in the autumn and early winter. The shaggy parasol has dark brown scales on the cap and the flesh turns dark red when bruised or cut.
Small Boletes (Boletus spp., Xerocomus spp.)
- A group of small mushrooms that have tubes instead of gills. The caps range from bright red to dark brown, in some species crazed with cracks, and the pores are a shade of yellow. Some species in this group bruise blue where they are handled while others remain unchanged. They are all soft fleshed and have a pleasant mushroom flavour. Boletes form symbiotic associations with trees and the mushrooms form in lines or trops along the tree roots or at the edge of the canopy in open situations. The small boletes are often associated with young oaks but are also found with cherry, mapels, apple and other small deciduous trees. They are most abundant in mid-September.
Penny Bun (Boletus edulis, B. aureus, B. appendiculatus)
- Also known as cep, porcini, steinpilz etc. depending on you nationality. This group of large, fleshy, tube bearing mushrooms are found from summer to early autumn. They are associated mostly with mature oak trees, but also beech and conifers. They have soft firm flesh and a pleasant nutty mushroom flavour.
Fairy Ring (Marasmius oreades)
- A small buff brown mushroom with a thin tough stem which grows in densly packed rings in short grass and pasture. It is found from summer to early autumn. This is a very common mushroom but takes time to collect in quantity. It has a firm texture and strong mushroom flavour.
Deceivers (Laccaria laccata, L. amethystea)
- A group of small mushrooms growing in swarms under broadleaved trees in September and October. In wet conditions they are orange-tan all over, except the amethyst deceiver which is purple. In dry weather they change to a pale buff colour. They have a firm texture and used more for colour than flavour.
Russulas (Russula spp.)
- A large group of woodland fungi, most with brightly coloured caps. The stem and gills are mostly white or cream, though in some the stem is flushed with red or blue. The distinguishing feature is the brittle, crumbly texture of the flesh. They have a pleasant fruity flavour. The more common species are the charcoal burner, which has a bluish purple cap and is found under oaks in late summer and autumn, the yellow swamp russula, with it's bright yellow cap found under birch in the autumn and the blackening russula, which starts off white and bruises dark red then black and is found under broadleaved trees in early autumn.
St. Georges Mushroom (Tricholoma gambosum)
- A stout creamy beige mushroom found in rough grassland and woodland margins in late April and occasioanally late autumn. It has a firm nutty texture and a strong mushroom flavour.
Giant Funnel Cap (Leucopaxillus giganteas, Clitocybe geotropa)
- These large funnel shaped mushrooms grow in rings amongst the grass in open woodland. The large L. giganteus is creamy white and the slightly smaller C. geotropa is pinkish-buff. Both appear in mid-autumn. They have a firm nutty texture and flavour.
Giant Puffball (Langermania gigantea)
- This forms a large white irregular ball from the size of an orange to the size of the average pumpkin. They grow in rings in rough grassland and pastures appearing after heavy rains in summer and autumn. They are edible when the flesh is white but, as the spores develop, it becomes yellow and develops an unpleasant bitter taste. They have a crumbly texture when raw and a soft meaty texture when cooked, either way they taste of puffball.
Small Puffballs (Lycoperdon spp., Calvatia spp., Bovista spp., Vascellum spp.)
- This group of small spherical or club shaped fungi are similar to the giant puffball, except for their size and identical with regard to edibility, texture and taste. Some are grassland species and some exclusively woodland. The woodland species are found later in the year than the grassland species.
Aniseed Toadstool (Clitocybe odora)
- A small, blue, funnel-shaped mushroom with a strong smell and taste of aniseed. It is found in late autumn growing in small troops in open woodland.
Oak Milkcap (Lactarius quietus)
- A small pale brown mushroom always associated with oak trees. It is found in September and October. The has a few indistinct dark rings and the mushroom exudes creamy white milk when broken, especilly the gills. It has a firm crumbly texture and readily absorbs and concentrates flavours when it is cooked.
Field Mushroom (Agaricus campestris & allies)
- A medium sized creamy white mushroom with pink gills which turn black as the spores mature. It is found growing in rings in grassland and pastures in summer and early autumn. It has a meaty texture and pleasant mushroom flavour.
Horse Mushroom (Agaricus arvensis)
- A large creamy white mushroom with pink gills which turn black as the spores mature. It is found growing in rings in grassland and pastures in summer and early autumn. It has a meaty texture, a mild aniseed smell and strong mushroom flavour.
Wood Mushroom (Agaricus silvicola)
- A large creamy mushroom with pink gills which turn black as the spores mature. It is found growing in rings in open woodland in autumn. It has a meaty texture, a mild aniseed smell and strong mushroom flavour.
The Prince (Agaricus augustus)
- A large robust creamy white mushroom flecked with dark brown scales on the cap and with pink gills which turn black as the spores mature. It is found growing in rough grass on woodland margins in summer and autumn. It has a firm, meaty texture and stong almond smell and taste.
Hen-in-the-Woods (Grifola frondosa)
- A large fungus formed from numerous branching brackets with velvety brown tops and creamy pores underneath. The overall appearance is of a large brown hen sitting on the ground with itÕs feathers fluffed up. It grows in association with oaks and is usually found sheltering at the base of the trunk or on the larger roots at ground level in summer or autumn. It has a succulent, fibrous, texture, like the dark meat of chicken, and a rich spicy mushroom flavour.
Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum, L. variicolor)
- A large solid mushroom found near birch trees in late-autumn. It has a brown cap and creamy white pores and stem, the later covered with a network of dark gray scales. It has a firm texture and pleasant nutty mushroom flavour.
Larch Bolete (Suillus grevillei, S. granulatus)
- Medium sized mushrooms with slimy, tawny or rust coloured caps and yellow pores and stem. S. grevillei is always associated with larch, S. granulatus is found with other conifers. Both have a soft slimy texture and a mushroom flavour.
Wood Ears (Auricularia auricula-judae)
- A brown ear shaped jelly fungus commonly found on elder in winter, but may occur any time of year after heavy rains. It has a texture like inside-out pasta, firm on the oustide and soft in the middle, and is best cut into thin strips before cooking.
Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes)
- this mushroom grows in dense bunches on tree trunks in winter after the first frosts. It has flame orange coloured caps borne on thin velvety stems which are dark brown towards the base. The caps are tender and have a spicy apricot flavour.

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