Thursday, 15 April 2010


Each year as the fungi season begins I dread reading the news that some unfortunate individual will succumb to the temptation to try a dangerous wild mushroom/toadstool and get very sick or worse die. I have been collecting fungi for over 20 years and each year instead of getting more and more adventurous I get more and more cautious. There is no certain way to identify edible fungi other than from a very experienced and knowledgable person.
 Books are useful, but often a very highly powered microscope in the hands of a very experienced mycologist is the only way to identify fungi and even then, the most common verdict here in Australia is "not known to be edible". We live in a continent that has the most extraorinary variety of fungi but edibility is not known for most of our indigenous fungi. The above collage is a small sample of native boletes. They are not porcini/ceps but do belong to the same family of fungi that have do not have gills but a  sponge under the caps. They are not slippery jacks so be very careful, the consequences of eating them are unknown. No matter how careful you are only a qualified expert can be your guide.
In Europe where there is a well established culture of collecting edible wild fungi  and there are official channels to certify edibility. In France chemist shops have qualified staff to examine a foragers catch. In most European markets there is a stall where qualified experts certify and stamp a stall holders stock. Sadly no such service is available at local markets.
This sequence was taken at 10 second intervals.
There are choice,edible blue staining Boletes in Europe; but this is NOT one of them. True identification can take more than 25 steps including a highly magnified image of the minute spores.

For the serious collector click below but!!


Tassiegal said...

This is a really interesting post - Thank you. Having had slippery jacks (bought off Matt Evans and found on his farm, I would not have a clue how to identify them myself, but wish I could as they were REALLY yummy!

Chris said...

I agree very interesting, I'm walking around the parks and gardens here in Redwood City and San Francisco, USA, the weather has been perfect for fungi, and I'm having a lot of fun "trying" to identify some of them or for that matter all of them...NOT to eat....I believe I have found a nice area close to home of Pine mushrooms..usually referred to as Piney's by my friend and very astute fungi identifier.
Thanks George I love your blog site.