Beginners guide to mushrooms

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xylaria

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Beginners guide to fungi

There are several thousand macro fungi in Britain so where do you start if you wish to learn about picking them, easy you learn the ones that kill you. I have tried to keep the list to really dangerous ones, that have a likelihood of killing if consumed. I have tried to be a thorough as I can.

In humble opinion the best way to learn about fungi is to get out and pick them, feel them, look at the gills and spore print them. No fungi can poison you by touching it. Picking a singular mushroom to study it is unlikely to damage the organism the produced the fruit body. It is a very diverse subject that can take years to master, and you can’t learn it in one day. But like every other aspect of wild food the more you interact with the subject the more you will know.

Non-gilled fungi
Turban fungi, false morel Gyromitra esculenta
Gyromitra infula
Gyromitra gigas
Gyromitra brunnea,
Looks more like brain on stick than a morel; it contains hydrazine which produces incurable kidney failure if consumed undercooked. It can be eaten when boiled for ten minutes but the vapours have produced kidney failure in chefs who have inhaled the steam coming off the pot.

Cudonia circinans Redleg jelly baby, it grows in scotland, it is know as deadly poisonous on the continent. It has the same chemicals as turban fungus. There are other fungi that also contain hydrazine but i can find no reference of them causing poisoning, and I have personally consumed some of these well cooked in moderation without ill effect.


Gilled fungi

Cyclopeptides
These are responsible for the vast majority of deaths due to fungi poisoning. Amanitas, Lepiotas and Galerinas produce liver failure after a period of wellness. Cortinarius mushrooms again have a latent phase but the symptoms of poisoning are different as the final illness has nervous system problems and kidney failure. There is no antidote for this type of poisoning, once effected there is a signifcant chance of organ failure and death.

Amanita
The section of the amanita family the has the bad guys in it grow from a bag like structure called a volva and have ring on the stem. The edible amanitas either don't have a ring as in grisettes or no volva as in blushers, but still great care needs to exercised when picking amanitas for the pot.
Amanita virosa Destroying Angel
Amanita verna
Amanita phalloides var. alba
Amanita phalloides Death capDeath Cap
Amanita bisporigera
Amanita tenuifolia
Amanita ocreata Death cap (occidental)


Lepiota
This family contain the very delicious parasol mushroom, but also contains deadly ones, that are no more that 6cm across rather than a parasol that is at least 12cm.
Lepiota cristata
Lepiota clypeolaria
Lepiota brunneoincarnata
Lepióta helvéola
Lepiota josserandi

Galerina

Galerinas are little brown mushrooms with brown spores; the two biggest members of the group are also the ones that are the most poisonous. They are as deadly as death caps. Some of the little ones might be as well but nobody thinks to eats them.
Galerina marginata
Galerina autumnalis
Galerina venenata
Galerina unicolor
Galerína stylífera

Conocybe filaris
Again the Conocybe filaris is a little brown mushroom. The deaths it produces are nearly entirely restricted to young people looking for a high, and mis identifying it.

Cortinarius Webcaps
Like the amanitas, the Cortinarius group have distinct features such as a cobweb like veil around the bottom of cap, that adheres to the slimy glutinous layer on the top. This veil will collapse on to the stem when it ages leaving either ring or tatty brown lines down the stem. The spore print is brown.
Cortinarius rainierensis.
Cortinarius speciosissimus
CortinariusCallisteus
Cortinarius orellanus
Cortinarius rubellus
Cortinarius splendens
Cortinarius splendens var. meinhardii

Muscarine
Muscarine is a nerve poison, that is antidote-able with a atropine injection. Symptoms happen within two hours, and treatment needs to be reasonably prompt.

Clitocybes
Clitocybes are funnel shaped mushrooms with white spore print, there are several very good edible fungi such as honey fungus and cloud caps. But even these can produce problems to some. The small white ones are avoided and the rest is eaten in moderation after careful identifying.
Clitocybe dealbata
Clitocybe cerussata
Clitocybe Phyllophila
Clitocybe rivulosa
Clitocybe candicans
Clitocybe truncicola

Inocybes
Inocybes are typically thatched roof shaped with radial lines and a brown spore print
Inocybe geophylla
Inocybe erubescens ( patouillardii) Red staining inocybe
Inocybe bongardii
Inocybe godeyi
Inocybe fastigata
Inocybe maculata

Mycena pura

Amanita muscaria and amanita pantherina contain insufficient levels of muscarine to cause death with accidental use. Deathe have occured from the dilberate consumption of panter caps followed by atropine been misperscribed by doctors.

Gastero-irratants

There are quite a few fungi that cause significant gastric problems but they don’t normally kill. Entoloma lívidum has been known to kill. The spore print is pink there is couple of entolomas that can make you feel very ill so generally they are avoided.

Allergic problems
Paxillus involutus (Brown Roll-rim)
An odd group that though has in past been eaten in large quantities it has the nickname of the mycologist killer. It supposedly tastes fantastic but can cause a fatal allergic reaction. It can be eaten without ill effect for years until the reaction occurs. The reaction causes heamolytic anaemia and is fatal.

Tricholoma equestre poisoning - (Man-on-Horseback, chevalier)
Tricholoma equestre has recently been found to be toxic when eaten repeatedly in quantity. Eating more than ½ kg of any wild food in one sitting, radically increases the chance of toxic effects, but we all have the capacity to over consume.
 

bushman762

Forager
May 19, 2005
159
0
59
N.Ireland
Thanks, I'll be back to have a better look. I would like to know a little about mushrooms, but I don't see myself as a devotee! there seems to be loads of info here for me.

Cheers

:)
 

AndyW

Nomad
Nov 12, 2006
400
0
46
Essex
Thanks for this Xylaria :D

Can you reccomend any good field guides that can be carried around are are suitable for beginners?

The Dorling Kindersly (sp?) looks good with good pictures but I've resisted buying so far :rolleyes:

Andy
 

xylaria

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Thanks for this Xylaria :D

Can you reccomend any good field guides that can be carried around are are suitable for beginners?

The Dorling Kindersly (sp?) looks good with good pictures but I've resisted buying so far :rolleyes:

Andy
I got my sister a doring kindsly (sp:D ) book, as it put edibles next to their related deadly look-a-like. The kingfisher field guide by david peglar is quite good as well.

The collins pocket guide (not gem or field guide) she had, I had to go through with tipex because it didn't label destroying angel and labelled nearly everything else as poisonous. Scaring people with a subject doesn't help anybody.

Most of the deadly poisonous fungi come in closely related groups. What I did when I started to learn fungi was learn those groups first. I didn't learn individuals, I learnt stuff like clitocybes are all the same shape and simerlar pale colours. Once you have your head around the look of certain groups heavy duty field guides with 2000+ species in them become much easier to use.

I never rely on just one book or website as toxicology/edibility advice as I find it is grossly inconsistent in a lot of sources.
 

gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
3,723
26
46
Edinburgh
Rock on xylaria, great post! If we still had rep, I'd rep you... :)

The Gem pocket guide doesn't seem too shabby, and has the advantage of being easily-pocketable. Not the most comprehensive, but adequate for starters - and it doesn't seem to be riddled with misinformation, as far as I can tell.
 

shep

Maker
Mar 22, 2007
930
1
Suffolk
This has to be stickied. Just brilliant.

Me and the Mrs. were just saying we wanted to get into this, but had no idea where to start. I don't get enough confidence from the pocket field guides, but in the context of this list should allow for some more success.

Does anyone know of a good course for this kind of thing. Xylaria, do you run one?!
 

xylaria

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
This book is rubbish and dangerous but the gem guide is pretty good :

I don't run any courses, but I have taught people. I never charge, as then I can turn people away I don't think are suited to the subject, and I have no insurance against idiots who will blame me for their own inabilities.

It has took me twenty years to learn and forget all the stuff I don't know about fungi:confused: .

Never ever eat a mushroom unless you 101% sure that want you are eating is not going harm you. This list is just deadly poisonous british fungi not all the ones that are harmful. I will write one on harmful ones at a later date.
 

spamel

Banned
Feb 15, 2005
6,833
21
44
Silkstone, Blighty!
I've got tha one and must say I don't trust it too much. I use it as a guide, and that is about it! I would like to get a hold of a good informative book on the subject though, so I'm gonna check those other books out. I did find a really good book with fantastic pictures by Shell once in a library in Germany! God knows why the people who supply petrol need to know about mushrooms, but there you go!
 

JonnyP

Full Member
Oct 17, 2005
3,833
29
Cornwall...
Great work Xylaria...I would love to get into fungi, but I just cannot give the time needed to study them. I do enjoy going out with people that can show me though. There is a lady at my local wildlife reserve that is well clued up on them and I have been for a bimble with her.. Bushcraft is such a big subject and I wish I had the time to study more of it... (he says sat here infront of the computer..:rolleyes: )
 

bushtank

New Member
Jan 9, 2007
337
2
47
king lynn
I've got tha one and must say I don't trust it too much. I use it as a guide, and that is about it! I would like to get a hold of a good informative book on the subject though, so I'm gonna check those other books out. I did find a really good book with fantastic pictures by Shell once in a library in Germany! God knows why the people who supply petrol need to know about mushrooms, but there you go!
I use Thomas Laessoe eye witness handbook great pictures and good info great thread
xylaria
 

R.G. Barjey

Member
Nov 19, 2010
30
0
Somerset
Mushrooms are one of my favourites but I`ve never been brave enough to try any that I find apart from the normal field mushroom.
Definitely got .. Are they, aren`t they syndrome.