Despite my life-long interest in foraging plants, I had always steered clear of mushrooms. The reason? Like many people, I was affected by Mycophobia (fear of mushrooms).
We are all hyper-aware that eating the wrong mushrooms can kill us, and it’s certainly important to be conscious of that but the same is true of plants and it doesn’t stop me from enjoying many edible plants!
I suppose my newly acquired taste for mushrooms (I hated them as a child!) began to cultivate in me a new fear; a fear that I was missing out on Free Food!
Knowing almost nothing, of the 15,000 species of mushrooms and fungi in the UK, I decided I could choose three easily identifiable edible mushrooms and learn all about them and their potential look-alikes.
An achievable goal that would delectably enhance my wild food larder!
So throughout 2019 I have been learning, I have already consumed 3 different species. Now, as Mushroom season begins, I am truly amazed at how much I have learned. It’s such an enjoyable pursuit that I’m way beyond the three edible species plan, I’m hungry for Mycology!
An inevitable result of our cultural fear of wild mushrooms is that misinformation and myth persist…
For example, did you know that it’s safe to touch any wild mushroom? I didn’t! It’s even safe to nibble (and spit out!) even the deadliest, of mushroom, offering valuable identification clues to the more advanced mushroomers.
Over the last 9 months I have begun to exchange fear for knowledge, ignorance for wisdom, and I’d like to share an incredible resource that has helped me enormously…
Facebook Mushroom Groups!
I already knew the value of plant identification groups, so one of the first things I did was to start joining as many mushroom groups as I could find. It’s amazing how much information you can absorb, even just from scrolling past a post and it’s infinitely better than the usual facebook crap!
I also got myself a good book
. (link below) There is no substitute for that!
I have found mushrooms groups to be a curiously different species from plant groups in many ways. They seem somewhat more meticulous and organised to me.
Perhaps because plants are less of a specialist subject? Meaning more people are involved with plants, even if it’s not a particular passion.
Certainly there is a notable passion running through the mushroom groups, and if you approach them the right way they are generously eager to share knowledge.
If you want to make yourself unpopular in a plant ID group, request an I.D with the question “is this a plant or a weed?” [grrr!]
During my observations, I have noted a few ways to avoid pissing off mycologists and mushroom lovers in a similar way so I’m sharing some of them here so you can gain the maximum benefit from this fantastically educational free resource.