Late Autumn to early winter is a fantastic time of the year to spend some time mushroom hunting in my local woodlands and their surrounding fields. Now I am not an expert in mushroom identification but I do know a few and am learning more and more as I further my knowledge of foraging for food. Now I love finding and identifying different species of mushrooms but will admit that I am still very nervous about harvesting and eating any that I have found. The thought of taking the boys for a walk early morning, picking a few edible fungi along the way before returning home and cooking up said mushrooms and eating them for breakfast, is something that really ‘floats my boat’ but I am just not quite confident enough yet. I am getting closer to that ‘dream’ and I am sure that i will write about it here when I do ‘grow a pair’ do it.
A couple of weeks ago I took a walk around one of my favourite woodlands Pound Woods, just of outside Rayleigh, as this is reputably one of the best local woodlands to mushroom hunt. On this visit I was certainly not disappointed as I found countless varieties of Fungi in various stages of growth. I could of spent all day wandering around the tracks and pathways that run beneath the trees and through the bushy areas but unfortunately I only had a couple of hours to spare before I had to get some work done in a customers garden. In fact when I arrived at said customers there was a big growth of Brown Rolled Rim mushrooms growing beneath a Silver Birch tree in her small residential garden. I should of taken a photo really.
Now I am not going to bore you with a list of all the mushrooms that I found on this walk, but I am going to show you some of my favourite photos that I took whilst stumbling along the pathways looking for these secretive little fungi.
The photo above really does not do justice to the beautiful autumnal red/brown colour of this mushroom.
Although some people do eat the Shaggy Parasol it apparently can cause nausea in others, so I have shied away from trying it so far. I would dearly love to find a ‘normal’ Parasol as they are meant to taste delicious.
I believe the above mushrooms are Honey Fungus, I am not 100% sure though, that are covered in a light dusting of powdery white mould.
I think this one may be an old Amanita Pantherina looking a bit sorry for itself. Again I am not 100% certain but after doing a little research thats what it looks like, but he way identification of any mushroom can’t be left to just looking at the cap you have to check the gills underneath, the stem and many other features to be sure. Personally I prefer to just leave them where I found them and not pull them out of the grown just to find out exactly what they are, I just like taking photos of them.
Above is now one of my favourite mushrooms to find and take pictures off, the gorgeous Magpie Inkcap. These ink caps are apparently edible when they are young, the first picture is a younger specimen, but if left to grow and then slowly decay melts into an inky substance whilst can actually be used to write with.
The last mushroom is a bracket fungus called Birch Polypore which grows on decaying Birch trees. These form a ‘bracket’ type structure once mature and some can be large enough and strong enough to take a fair bit weight if placed on it.
Thats all of the better photos that I took on my stroll through Pound Woods, I did find a lot more mushrooms but could not always get a nice picture of them, I hope that you enjoyed browsing through them. I did manage to harvest a good few Sweet Chestnuts too which are currently in my freezer ready to make some Christmas stuffing out off. Obviously I had to cook and eat a few first though…..