the wild mush­room hunter

Landscape (UK) - - In The Kitchen -

wayne thomas uses his ex­pert eye to for­age for ed­i­ble fungi in the wood­lands of the wye Val­ley “The Mush­room is the Elf of Plants -At Evening, it is not -At Morn­ing, in a Truf­fled Hut It stop upon a Spot” emily Dickinson, ‘The Mush­room is the Elf of Plants’

t he PALe Au­tumn sun casts its dap­pled shad­ows across the leaf-cov­ered floor of a Welsh wood. Sud­denly, the still­ness is bro­ken by a rushed move­ment, the rus­tle of leaf mat­ter, the crackle of snap­ping branches and a flash of sad­dle brown. With a Y-shaped stick in one hand, a wicker bas­ket in the other, mush­room for­ager Wayne Thomas has spot­ted a suit­able spec­i­men. The for­est floor of this mixed wood­land in the Wye Val­ley Area of Out­stand­ing Natural Beauty, Mon­mouthshire, is still damp from re­cent rains. Con­di­tions are per­fect for gath­er­ing ed­i­ble fungi. “Fungi are ev­ery­where,” says Wayne, sweep­ing his stick in an in­dica­tive arc around him. “Take a cu­bic me­tre of wood­land soil and there could more than 300 dif­fer­ent types. Some are mi­cro­scopic. It’s only when they fruit and form mush­rooms that we can see them.” He kneels and points among the de­cay­ing leaves at his feet. There, wig­gling sky­ward in golden yel­low and or­ange clus­ters, are the un­mis­tak­able gilled caps of pep­pery-tast­ing win­ter chanterelles. “Mush­room hunt­ing is about get­ting your eye in. When you know what you’re look­ing for, it’s like en­ter­ing a whole new magical world,” he says. Care­fully, he picks a hand­ful of the fungi and places them in his bas­ket. The open weave al­lows his finds to air and spread their spores as he con­tin­ues along his way. Wayne points to the leaf lit­ter no more than a few feet away. “Those are amethyst de­ceivers,” he says, re­fer­ring to a del­i­cate set with fluted caps and ir­reg­u­lar gills. “At their prime, they’re vivid pur­ple, but over time they lose their colour and turn creamy. They’re ed­i­ble, but fi­bre rich, so not one to over-in­dulge in.”

Wayne’s bas­ket soon starts to fill with creamy-coloured finds from the for­est floor.

The tough stems of amethyst de­ceivers, Lac­caria amethystina, can be bent and their caps wavy edged.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.