Mushroom Identificaton(USA)

Mushroom Identificaton(USA)

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I need help identifying a perculiar species of mushroom found in my yard today. Color is orange-yellow, around 3-4 inches total radius, its a cluster of tiny to medium mushrooms. They were found near an oak tree. Location is southern Georgia, USa.

These could be specimens of Omphalotus Illudens based on the orange/yellow color, the time of the year, their association with decaying wood (an oak in this case) and your location (eastern North America)

You can read more about these species in this reference: Messiah College

Mushroom Identification: Bolete Mushrooms

Bolete mushrooms, the common name for mushrooms in the Boletales order, cover an array of families and species.

Depending on whether physical, chemical and/or DNA properties serve as the organizing tool, Boletales classification changes. For present purposes, the term bolete is used rather loosely to refer to mushrooms with pores rather than gills under the cap.

The article provides some pictures and descriptions of representative species in the order to help with basic mushroom identification questions.

Michigan Wild-foraged MOREL Mushroom Certification Program

Certification in the Michigan Wild-foraged MOREL Mushroom program will begin on May 27, 2021 and is required for persons who intend on selling Morels. This Workshop and Exam will be completely virtual.

Click here for more information on Michigan Wild-foraged Morel Mushroom Certifications

In order to sell Morels in Michigan, a person must attend the Morel Mushroom Workshop as well as pass a written exam with a score of 80% or higher. MAMI will send the results to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) who will then issue an official certificate. Currently, there are 2 times available for the virtual Workshop:

Exams will be administered and proctored at the end of the 1 hour Workshop. If attendees do not meet the 80% or higher requirement to pass the exam, the person has two additional attempts to take the exam. The following times can be used to take and/or retake the exam.

The cost is $75 per certification and, as with other certifications, is valid for five years. Anyone certified in the Wild-foraged Morel Mushroom Certification program can attend the complete, 20-species Wild-foraged Mushroom Certification Program at a discount rate.

Please click here for the Wild-foraged Morel Mushroom Certification curriculum and registration page.

If you have any questions, please send them to [email protected]

How to Identify Mushrooms and Truffles

Identifying fungi can be done using visual and aromatic cues, and chemical tests. A 10x hand lens or magnifying glass is an important tool to have for mushroom and truffle identification. The more serious mycophile will need a microscope to observe spore and tissue characters.

Here is a link to a diagram of general features of mushrooms: Mushroom Diagram

This should be useful as a reference when reading the material below.

The material under the following headings provides critical information to the identification of mushrooms:

Substrate Identifying the substance that a mushroom or truffle is growing on is important for diagnosing and discriminating species. This is because different fungi are specialized in obtaining their nutrition in different ways. Pathogenic and various ‘rot’ species grow from living trees, and can be quite host specific. If possible, identify the host plant. Saprotrophic fungi grow within, and fruit out of non-living substrates such as dead wood, humus, compost, dung, or ashes. In contrast, ectomycorrhizal fungi obtain their carbon nutrition from living trees in an intricately evolved mutualism. These fungi fruit out of the forest floor and amongst the root system of its host. Some ectomycorrhizal fungi show host preferences and even host-specificity. To help in their identification, be sure to look up and all around (not just down) and make note of the plant community when harvesting mushrooms and truffles.

There are many distinctive shapes or forms of mushrooms. Gilled mushrooms (agarics) differ from boletes and polypores by the shape of their fertile spore-producing layer, the hymenium. Morels, with their pitted hymenium are quite distinctive from coral fungi that have a smooth hymenium. For stipitate fungi (those having stems), the attachment of the cap and stem may be ‘central’, ‘lateral’ or ‘reduced’. Some mushrooms, such as the giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea) have no stipe. Fungi of the truffles form produce their spores on the inside of there fruiting body, and often fruit below the soil or at the soil surface.

Spore color and shape

It is possible to get spore prints from a wide range of fungi including agarics, boletes, morels, coral fungi, and resupinate fungi. Often times, fungi have ‘spore-printed’ themselves, and you will see spores dusting the caps, along the stem or at the base of the mushroom. To obtain a spore print place a section of spore producing tissue on a piece of paper, cover to keep the humidity high, and place in a cool dark environment. Note the spore color after a few hours. Spores can range in color from white, buff, pink, tan, chocolate brown, rusty brown to black. With a compound microscope spore, diagnostic features including spore shape, size and ornamentation can be observed.

For further information on making a spore print see the following links:

The presence or absence of veils

A veil is a thin tissue the covers the spore-producing hymenium before the mushroom reaches maturity. Veils are common in some groups of mushrooms and boletes. They are most evident in young fruiting bodies. Many produce fragile or cobwebby veils that quickly disappear or weather away. Superficial wisps of tissue around the apex of the stem or the margin of the cap may be all the remains of a partial veil. Other times veils form a collar around the mushroom stem and are strikingly evident. In other cases, such as in deadly toxic species of Amanita, fruiting bodies are form in a sac-like structure, known as a volva, which is evident at the mushrooms base.

Hymenium (the fertile tissue)

Gills, gill attachment to the stem, gill edges and pores are evident on the underside of mushroom caps. A small mirror can place under a mushroom in the field to observe this character without disturbing the fungus. If the fungus has gills, their attachment to the mushroom stem can be ‘decurrent’, ‘adnate’, ‘adnexed’, ‘sinuate’or ‘free.’ See: and for drawings that demonstrate gill attachment.

The gill margin (distant edge) may be smooth or saw-toothed, and the color may be distinct. The gill spacing and thickness also varies between groups of fungi. Some have forking and cross-venation in their gills. In pored fungi, the shape and size of the pores varies.

The shape of the stem/stipe can also be a morphological characteristic used for identifying mushrooms. The following are some types of stem morphologies used in mushroom identification:

Texture and color change

Mushroom and truffle tissues vary in texture and can change color when handled. For instance, tissues of some boletes bruise blue when handled, due to oxidation reactions. Such reactions can be a diagnostic feature. When the cap or stem of mushrooms is damaged, it may stain red, yellow, green, blue or purple, or may not stain at all. Tissues may ‘peel’, ‘break’, may feel ‘slimy’ or ‘spongy’ or may be ‘woody’ or ‘fibrous’. The peridium, or outer surface of truffles, vary in texture and can range in color, texture (from smooth to warty), thickness and cellular arrangement.

The odor of fungi can be an important character for identifying some types of mushrooms and truffles. While subjective and variable between individuals, some fungi have distinctive odors that may range from ‘fruity’, ‘nutty’, ‘mushroomy’ to ‘phenolic’ or ‘putrid’.

Season, geography, weather

Mushroom species are adapted to certain places and conditions. Making note of the location (GPS coordinates are standard), time of year, and recent weather conditions and (day and night) temperatures can be helpful in identifying fungi, as are digital photographs of fresh specimen, paying special attention to the characters outlined above. Reputable taxonomic keys and field guides of the region of collection should be referenced for identifying fungi.

Follow this link for to a glossary of common terms:

*These diagrams are modified from Lincoff, G. H. 1981 National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. ISBN 0-394-51992-2, as listed with the University of Saskatchewan.

Copyright 2018 Midwest American Mycological Information (MAMI) reproduction of any material found on this website without the express written permission of MAMI is forbidden.

The Biology and Cultivation of Edible Mushrooms

The Biology and Cultivation of Edible Mushrooms emphasizes the biological and cultivation aspects of edible mushrooms. This book refers to edible mushrooms as epigeous and hypogeous fruiting bodies of macroscopic fungi that are commercially cultivated or grown in half-culture processes or potentially implanted under controlled conditions. The topics discussed include the morphology and classification of edible mushrooms cryogenic freezing of mushroom spawn spawning and mycelium growth and cultivation of Pleurotus. The geographic distribution of truffles potential cultivation of various edible fungi and economics of cultivated mushrooms are also elaborated. This publication is intended for experienced mushroom specialists, seasoned commercial growers, and biology students who are interested in edible mushrooms.

The Biology and Cultivation of Edible Mushrooms emphasizes the biological and cultivation aspects of edible mushrooms. This book refers to edible mushrooms as epigeous and hypogeous fruiting bodies of macroscopic fungi that are commercially cultivated or grown in half-culture processes or potentially implanted under controlled conditions. The topics discussed include the morphology and classification of edible mushrooms cryogenic freezing of mushroom spawn spawning and mycelium growth and cultivation of Pleurotus. The geographic distribution of truffles potential cultivation of various edible fungi and economics of cultivated mushrooms are also elaborated. This publication is intended for experienced mushroom specialists, seasoned commercial growers, and biology students who are interested in edible mushrooms.


This group is for assistance in identification of mushroom found in the Upper Midwest USA area. This area is LOOSELY defined as: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan.
… Ещё
Please take the time to read this basic information before posting.

Taken from the main Mushroom ID Group started by Tim Sage, which can be found here https:// /groups/ 117808248330980/ members/ many thanks:

"A forum for aiding in mushroom and fungi identification. Amateur mycology is the new force of fungal data.

Mushrooms and fungi are very difficult to identify. NEVER EAT ANY MUSHROOM (Or anything) IF YOU ARE NOT 100% SURE OF ITS IDENTITY. This site is NOT intended to be a source of info to gather wild foods, this is a scientific site based on naming fungi. Tim Sage and/or Facebook are not liable for anything you decide to do with what you learn here.

Feel free to comment on any photos, but please do not suggest ID's unless you are sure of what you are talking about. Give references if possible. If someone ID's for you, take what they have said and research it independently. Again, NEVER EAT ANY MUSHROOM (Or anything) IF YOU ARE NOT 100% SURE OF ITS IDENTITY.

Two main features (among many) need to be noted when trying to identify a mushroom:

1) Substrate/ habitat (What was it growing from/on? What was it growing near? What tree species are there nearby? Where are you located?)
2) Spore and/or Gill color

When noting what the funga is growing on, be sure to dig up the entire stem base carefully, for their are fragile features that can be growing underground. Mushrooms that appear terrestrial may be growing on buried wood.

Take a spore print by removing the cap as close the stem apex as possible, and placing it on a piece of glass, paper, or tin foil. Cover it with a glass and wait 4-24 hours. After this, the gills should have released their spore load in a beautiful array on the glass, and you can then judge its color. White spores can be seen on paper by holding it at an angle in the light. Sometimes spore color can be figured out by the gill color, but this takes time and field experience.

Please post clear, in-focus photos that include the cap surface, the gills, and the stem/stem base. Crummy photos won't get ID'd. You don't need to be a master photographer to get clear shots. Make sure your camera is in macro-mode (look for the little flower icon) if you are having trouble focusing.

IF you have a strong interest in mycology, I highly recommend joining a mycological society.

I also highly recommend posting your photos on MushroomObserve It is a wonderful database of observations from allover the world.

I also have a group for all your pretty photos, or just general fungal info/links:

Mushroom Observation

When examining a mushroom or other fungi in the field, it's important to pay attention to certain factors. There's a lot to look for thankfully, mushrooms don't move! The traits listed below are necessary keys for observation and identification, and noticing these factors will also vastly aid sketching skills.

Study the environment.
First thing to note is the date and time along with the mushroom’s location and lighting conditions (partial shade, full sun, etc). Pay attention to what the mushroom is growing on or in— wood, grass, leaf litter, or dirt. If it’s growing in soil, note what type (sand, clay, loam, etc) and if the soil is wet, moist, or dry. If it is growing on wood, try to identify the type of tree and whether the tree is dead or alive. What trees are overhead? How moist is the environment? Is there one mushroom or multiples? If there are multiples, are they attached at the base or distinctly separate?

Measure its size.
Note cap (or pileus) diameter and height along with the length and width of the stem (or stape), plus the height of the entire mushroom. To determine a mushroom's true size, it's often necessary to dig around the base and uncover its bulb or end.

Move on to its parts.
Though mushrooms and fungi can vary widely, the most notable mushroom shape has a handful of standard, easily identifiable parts. Below are important features to pay attention to.

The cap (or pileus): What is its surface texture (wet, dry, scaly, corrugated, etc)? Is there a veil or partial veil? Note the cap’s shape including the shape of its margin (or rim) and the cap's color pattern and markings. Test whether it bruises (changes colors) or releases a liquid (called bleeding or weeping) or a powder when scraped, punctured, or broken.

Under the cap (or hymenophore): Does the specimen have gills, pores, or teeth? If gills, are the gills tightly packed or sparse? Do the gills continue down the stalk? If pores, are they large or small tight, sparse, or in a pattern? Do the gills bruise or release a liquid when touched or pressed? If possible, try to make a spore print. (For instructions, see here.)

Stalk (or stipe): Is there a stipe? If so, what is the length, shape, color, and texture (brittle, fibrous, soft, slimy, scaly, webbed or reticulated, etc)? Is there a ring (annulus), and if so, how is it shaped? Is there a cup? Does the stalk bruise or turn a color when scraped? When picked, is there a “tap root” (rhizomorph)? Is it hollow inside? Digging around the base with a spoon or sharp stick will help keep the mushroom intact while allowing measurements of the stem and base along with any attached mycelium.

Other observations
Does it have a distinct smell? Some fungi fanatics even taste a small portion, spitting it out so it can't (supposedly) cause any harm. I'm not ready to try this yet!

Other products we considered

If you want to hunt for mushrooms closer to home, these guides to growing your own wild mushrooms are a great way to get started. Richard Bray’s Mushroom Cultivation: Become the MacGyver of Mushrooms – Easy Step-by-Step Instructions to Grow Any Mushroom at Home is a homesteader’s handbook for mushroom cultivation. This book shares the secrets of successful mushroom cultivation in an easy-to-read format. It’s a great gift for any gardener or fungi lover on your gift list. The Kindle download is a terrific value. Paul Stamets’s Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms is a must-read if you love to watch your garden grow. Available as a paperback or ebook, this guide details how to have fresh mushrooms at your fingertips year round. Delight your dinner guests with homegrown mushroom delicacies and keep your immune system in tip-top shape with medicinal varieties.


Q. How do I know if a mushroom is safe to eat?
You don’t. That’s why it’s important to always consult a comprehensive wild mushroom field guide and ask yourself the key questions. What time of year is it? Where is the mushroom growing? Is it growing in the shade or full sun? If it’s growing on a tree, what kind of tree? If it’s attached to wood, what kind of wood? Mushrooms growing out of cedar, eucalyptus, or conifer trees can make you very ill.

Q. Why should I carry a knife when mushroom hunting?
When harvesting mushrooms, use a sharp pocket knife to sever the stem so as not to damage the delicate mycelium below.

Q. How large should a mushroom be before I pick it?
Avoid picking hedgehog mushrooms, winter chanterelles, and other small mushrooms that have a cap diameter less than half an inch. Make sure boletes, horse mushrooms, russulas, parasols, and other larger mushrooms have caps larger than two inches in diameter before foraging.

Mushroom Identificaton(USA) - Biology

Contact your nearest poison control center in the US or Canada, emergency room, or your physician.
US Poison Control:1-800-222-1222

Promoting, pursuing and advancing the science of mycology

In a mushroom poisoning emergency contact your nearest poison control center in the US or Canada, emergency room, or your physician.
US Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222

Support the North American Mycological Association

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The North American Mycological Association welcomes all people with an interest in mushrooms and mycology without regard to race, gender, age, color, national origin, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Go to Members of affiliated clubs receive a $5 discount. For only $25 ($30 for non-affiliated members), you will receive 6 issues of The Mycophile, full access to our expanded website, and a standing invitation to all NAMA-sponsored forays. Members enjoy all the benefits NAMA has to offer, including our newsletter, The Mycophile, which is full of educational articles and news about upcoming forays.

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Lichen Basics

Lichens are amazing organisms. They are all around us and we hardly notice them. Found on soil, tree bark, rocks and even some under water, they are actually two organisms living together (symbiosis). The major component is a fungus (mycobiont), hence they are classified as fungi &mdash the vast majority being ascomycetes. Lichens are fungi that have taken up farming, and they are known as lichenizedfungi. There are four major growth forms &mdash crustose, foliose, fruticoseandsquamulose.
To see the page on Lichens written by Dorothy Smullen, follow this link.

McIlvainea Vol. 29:

Dianna Smith

NAMA member Dianna Smith published the third and final installment of her research on medicinal mushrooms in the current issue of McIlvainea.

It's an elegantly written, deeply researched, and thoroughly interesting survey of what is known and what questions remain about mushrooms as medicine. Smith chairs NAMA's medicinal mushroom committee and has a graduate degree in the History of Science and Technology and also studied Chinese.

The North American Mycological Association (NAMA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
NAMA is committed to the promotion of scientific and educational activities related to fungi. NAMA supports the protection of natural areas and their biological integrity. We advocate the sustainable use of mushrooms as a resource and endorse responsible mushroom collecting that does not harm the fungi or their habitats.

October 5, 2011

Boletus edulis (also the closely related and equally delicious Boletus pinophilus and Boletus reticulatus) AKA Porcini (Italy & commonly UK too nowadays), Penny bun (UK traditionally, but generally cep from the French name Cepe is used), Steinpiltz (Germany), King bolete (US)

  • Edibility – 5/5 – firm young ceps are one of the tastiest wild foods, and extremely versatile. Older specimens are best dried, after which their flavour intensifies.
  • Distribution – 3/5 – quite common, though enigmatic, often with a short, intense season (3 weeks around the start of September in Scotland, usually later further south), and rapidly infested/decomposing.
  • Identification – 4/5 – Key identification features are the light to chestnut brown smooth cap with a white rim and often a hazy pale ‘bloom’. Ensure the stipe is pale with a slightly raised white net pattern (reticulum) on the top third. As a member of the bolete group of mushrooms, ceps have pores under the cap rather than gills. These start off pale grey, becoming yellow and eventually olive green in past-their-best specimens. Flesh should be unchangingly white throughout apart from a narrow claret-coloured line just under the skin of the cap. Beginners may mistake inferior boletes, but unlikely to be a dangerous mistake. Ceps grow quickly and come in a wide and quirky range of shapes and sizes, and are often semi-decomposed before they reach maturity.
  • Habitat – under beech, birch, scots pine, spruce solitary or in clusters. Summer cep (Boletus reticulatus) grows only under deciduous trees, tends to appear earlier in the year, and is distinguished by its pronounced reticulum and darker cap. Boletus pinophilus (aka the pine bolete or pine cep) grows only under pine or spruce (including plantations). Both are every bit as tasty as boletus eludis and there is no need for fungi novices to worry too much about the subtle differences.
  • Ecology – Ceps are Mycorrhizal fungi, working with their tree partners by helping in their uptake of water, phosphorus, nitrogen and zinc in return for energy from photosynthesis in the form of sugars. Carbon sequestration by fungi is often an overlooked area of climate science. Ceps, and boletus species in general, can be important food and habitat to insects, slugs, rodents and I’ve even heard of deer nibbling on them. This fascinating paper shows that individual mushroom species can have specific relationships with individual insect species. In the case of ceps, (mostly) flies of the pegomya genus, and (some) fungal gnats of Sciaridae family use them as food home & nursery for their larvae. It has been postulated that insects could play a role in the reproductive strategies of some fungi (beyond the obvious stinkhorns) and who knows what other useful interactions they have with complex fungal lifecycles? The evolution of veils/rings (annulus), webs (cortina) and slime on the underside of some mushroom species is a direct defence to deter insects before spores have matured. Some slow growing fungi such as chanterelles deter insects chemically (read the science of this here). That ceps have evolved no such strategy suggests to me that they they are happy partners with insects as well as trees! It seems likely that their very aromatic deliciousness has evolved to attract insects… And maybe humans too? Ceps can also play host to other fungi, notably the bolete eater fungus Hypomyces chrysospermus, and appear to have complex relationships with Fly agaric (amanita mascaria), the miller (Clitopilus prunulus) and peppery boletes (Chalciporus piperatus) – more on which below.
  • Considered/Sustainable Harvesting – Given their extremely very fast growth/deterioration, the rapid attentions of so many insects, slugs and rodents, and their susceptibility to bolete eater fungus, its not surprising that millions of tons of ceps mature and rot in our forests every autumn. They are a true feast for nature. Their tendency to appear in large, localised gluts (like mast years for trees, only more localised and much less predictable) means harvesting a large “windfall” in one go can be a perfectly reasonable harvesting strategy. One good afternoon can yield a year’s supply of fungi, once dried or otherwise preserved and this must certainly have a lower overall impact than buying hothoused, packaged, transported cultivated mushrooms. Read more on this here. Carrying ceps pores-down in an open weave basket can only help in the wider transmission of spores through forest habitats, and spreading around the inevitable trimmings and wastage for such a perishable mushroom.

The cep is the king of edible mushrooms. No food, fungal or otherwise, comes near it for flavour and texture and when you find a firm young penny bun, or ‘bouchon’ cep as the French call them (after champagne corks), there is an irresistable fairytale beauty to them which is both beautiful and seductive.

Ceps are grow rapidlyy and erratically. All these ceps were picked in the same area at the same time. Bottom left is a freshly emerged “bouchon” (champagne cork) that is yet to colour up. Note the pores on the underside of the cap, changing from pale to olivaceous yellow as the mushroom matures.

In prime condition, ceps are one of the few wild mushrooms that I recommend eating raw, though if you have never tried them before, you should start with only a tiny amount. Fortunately a morsel is all you need to intoxicate your senses. The texture manages to be both crisp and succulent, while the flavour is one of chestnuts, musky woodland, even a hint of smokiness, but overall, just very mushroomy, with an almost parmesan-like umami mouth feel! The combination of deep intensity and aromatic lightness is fantastic.

Summer ceps, Boletus reticulatus. Differentiated by the deeper chestnut colour of the cap and darker stem with prominent white reticulum.

If you think all this sounds unlikely and exaggerated, you really should try one. And don’t take my word: witness the French and (especially) Italian love affair with this mushroom. In season, market stalls will be bursting at the seams with fresh specimens and most rural Italian towns have their own fungi festival each autumn where prizes are awarded for biggest/prettiest/most like finder porcini. Even in winter and spring no self respecting grocer will be without a huge box of dried porcini.

Dehydrating ceps in the sun. I usually use a dehydrator for speed and convenience, but on the rare occasion Scotland’s weather is good enough, I dry them in natural sunlight

Ceps lend themselves extremely well to drying and young firm specimens also freeze well, so they are available commercially in some form or other all year round and are a widely traded commodity. Although they lose their texture when dried, the process actually intensifies the flavour, and there is the added bonus of the water used for reconstituting them making excellent mushroom stock, though generally I prefer to just add the dried chunks to whatever stew, sauce, soup or gravy I am making and let them reconstitute in the pan. Dried ceps can also be ground into a fine stock powder that will turbo-charge any dish with rich, deep umami, or can be sprinkled on dishes in the same way as parmesan cheese.

Dried porcini reconstituting

You may well be thinking that this is some rare, exotic species, but they are in fact, not hard to find in Scotland and much of the UK. It is a sad reflection on our mycophobic culture that while they are cherished and celebrated in Europe, they are more likely to be ignored or kicked in the UK! Ceps are mycorrizal mushrooms, meaning that their parent mycelium (the underground network of microscopic fibres that permeate topsoil) happily unites in a mutually benificial relationships with tree roots. Ceps are what I think of as ‘loose’ mushrooms in so far as they can associate with a variety of tree species. Such infidelity means that you can regularly find them beneath beech, birch, pine and spruce trees from late August to November (see notes above for variations in species).

Tracking down such an esteemed mushroom can become a bit of an obsession, and experienced hunters will have all their senses finely attuned to a complex interplay of influences: heat in the ground (hot summers are good, but only after the weather breaks), rainfall (cloudburst in September), drops in temperature (a trigger for mushroom growth) and the appearance of other species that associate with ceps, are all signs to get your basket ready.

Fly agaric (amanita mascaria), the miller (Clitopilus prunulus) and peppery boletes (Chalciporus piperatus) are often clues to good hunting -grounds, especially under spruce trees. I find the relationship between ceps, spruce trees, the miller and the peppery bolete to be so reliable that I believe (though i’ve seen no scientific research to prove this) that the relationship is more than just shared habitat, but a complex interdependency. It has been known for some years that peppery boletes are parasitic on fly agaric mycelia, but I suspect there is more at play here. Who knows what complex battles, alliances and trades are going on beneath our feet!?

Fly agaric, peppery bolete and the miller – all good signs that there may ceps about under pine and spruce

I often curse the monoculture created by huge swathes of sitka spruce plantations, but as mushrooms don’t need light to flourish, I must confess to gathering some tremendous hauls of ceps beneath their boughs. In 1998 W Scotland enjoyed unbroken hot weather right up to September when heavy rain broke the drought, resulting in a fungi invasion. I harvested nearly 50kg of prime bouchon cep from a 500 square metre area of south-facing sitka spruce plantation – and I was only taking the best 10% of what was there. We ate a lot of risotto that winter…

A cep emerging from the ground, already having received much attention from insects and slugs

Inexperienced foragers can have trouble distinguishing ceps from other less desirable pored mushrooms or boletes, often due to wishful thinking. This is not the worst of failings as only the red pored and rare devil’s bolete is dangerously poisonous, though several can be bitter and indigestible. It doesn’t help that ceps are very fast growing and their appearance changes rapidly during the few days it takes them to emerge, mature and begin to rot.

Which leads me to the bad news…

The one downside to gathering ceps, it is that insects value them every bit as much as we do. I try to be philosophical about this, remembering that they are food, home and nursery to a great many beasties with fine taste, and an important part of the woodland ecosystem. But when 90-95% of outwardly perfect specimens turn out to be infested (often even before they have fully emerged from the ground), it is hard not to become dispirited.

I usually expect a ratio of about 1 salvageable cep to 10 knackered ones. Fungal gnats (Sciaridae spp) in particular appreciate them even more than humans as food home & nursery for their larvae. We may curse them, but they do help to spread fungal spores, and who knows what other useful interactions they have with complex fungal lifecycles? In my experience, unless I get really lucky, less than 1 in 25 of the ceps I find contain no gnat larvae at all. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, as trimming, slicing and quickly/thoroughly drying means the larvae fall out, leaving perfectly delicious cep with the already superb flavour intensified. Anyone who feels squeamish about this should know that nearly all commercially sold dried porcini (including that which is used to flavour tinned mushroom soup!) will have been home to fungal gnat larvae at some point.

Fed up of infested, mushy ceps? Why not hunt slower growing, insect resistant mushrooms like hedgehog mushrooms, winter chanterelles or chanterelles instead? You can read more in depth about their ecology and durability here too.

Four victims of the bolete-eater fungus and one good-looking cep for drying (as it still has plenty of fungal gnat larvae in it)

Everything loves to eat ceps, including other fungi! In action in this picture (above) is bolete-eater fungus, Hypomyces chrysospermus, which starts off as a white mould on the pore surface of boletes, then quickly spreads throughout the whole mushroom, turning chrome yellow as it matures and rendering its host a pile of smelly moosh in a matter of hours! I get sent a lot of ID requests for festering carcasses of hypomyces victims. Bleurgh.

For more advanced gourmet mycophagists only…I’ve discovered that if you can catch your ceps at the very early stages of Hypomyces chrysospermus infection – characterised by the odd rusty spot, perhaps the very beginnings of mould/mushiness and a somewhat cheesy smell – this actually adds wonderful parmesan-like umami to the mushrooms once dried. Really good, but i’m only talking about the very early stages of infection here.

Ceps, dried or fresh, will lift any mushroom dish to a new level. Even a small amount added to other mushrooms can make quite a difference. Here are some of my favourite recipes – but be sure to try them raw in the forest first!


what is the cep on the top right of the four photos? Here there are numerous examples of a cep with a pale fawn upper skin, yellow spores which bruise blue when cut, and a thick stem. The smell is typically that of a boletus, but I’m wary of trying them without positive identification. If the cap were browner I’d have said bay boletus, but it’s much too pale for that.


  1. Alston

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  3. Zulkim

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  5. Daitilar

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