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More on the minefield of mushrooms...

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:30 16 October 2017

It's a Parasol mushroom! The spectacular fungi I found while out foraging for blackberries.
Photo: Sheena Grant

It's a Parasol mushroom! The spectacular fungi I found while out foraging for blackberries. Photo: Sheena Grant

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I could have eaten it after all, writes Sheena Grant.

That’s the consensus of opinion from all the mushroom hunters out there who responded to last week’s column, in which I wrote about finding a spectacular fungi growing in damp grass.

With the help of the internet (always a bad idea) I ‘identified’ it as possibly being Amanita rubescens, or the Blusher, edible but perhaps best left alone as it can be confused with the deadly Panther Cap, Amanita pantherina.

Except it wasn’t. Thanks to every one who wrote to say I had found a Parasol mushroom, Lepiota procera, not a Blusher or, thankfully, a Panther Cap.

Neil Mahler, Suffolk county fungus recorder, couldn’t understand how I could confuse the two. “The Parasol is much bigger and has scales on the cap whilst the Blusher has a more spotty effect,” he wrote.

“I am a mycologist and do not go out collecting fungi to eat, but I do eat the occasional good specimen of common species. Parasols are said to be delicious, but the Blusher will give you stomach upsets if not par-boiled first to make the toxins harmless …best to leave the Blusher for the slugs.”

Anne Rea, from Felixstowe, also wrote to tell me it was a parasol, as did Nina Plumbe, from north Norfolk, and Arthur Phillips, from Dereham, who added: “Amanita rubescens has white gills, fully grown is about half of the size of a parasol mushroom and slightly upturned. It prefers areas such as birchwood, where you will also see its cousin, the fly agaric ‘fairy mushroom’, red with white spots. The parasol has brown gills and is not upturned when fully grown. When harvesting parasols wait until they are full grown so they will have spread their spores and leave the stalk so as to do less harm to the fungus organism beneath the ground.”

But the thorny issue of fungi identification is not totally closed. Henry Crawley, Reg Siger and Christine Dye all thought my mushroom may be a Shaggy parasol, Lepiota rhacodes, also edible. “They can look much alike, except that the (shaggy) turns out a blood orange colour liquid when cut,” says Reg. “The fungi world is fascinating - and a minefield.”

On that much, I think we can all agree.

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