NZ Lifestyle Block

Porcini Boletus edulis

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Found: on the east coast of the South Island, in Wellington, slowly spreading into other areas.

One of the most sought-after and delectable mushrooms in the world, it's worth making an effort to find it if they grow near you.

They're most commonly found growing under English oak, pine, English beech, and silver birch trees. More rarely, they grow in associatio­n with black poplar, red beech, willow, and possibly Norway spruce.

At maturity, they have tan caps that often blend in with autumn leaves. Their proportion­s aren't uniform. “Porcini come in all shapes and sizes,” says Christchur­ch mushroom forager Tyler McBeth. “This applies for the cap and the stem. Some have short and bulbous stems, while others can have long, thinner stems. The cap is rarely a uniform shape either.” Look carefully at the stems.

“The stem is generally white when small and young, and often becomes white and brown with age,” says Tyler. “The cap also starts off white but turns brown with age, though they can also lose their pigment due to drying out and frosts.”

At the top of the stem, where it connects with the cap, is a delicate white webbed pattern called reticulati­on.

“From personal experience, I have found this is more noticeable in those found under oak, English beech, and silver birch trees rather than under pine trees,” says Tyler.

There's another key identifica­tion feature on their underside.

“Porcini have pores instead of gills. When young, these pores are white and tightly spaced together. With age, the pores open up, changing their colour to a light yellow, to deep yellow, to olive green, then brown.”

The flesh of the porcini is white and doesn't change colour. Any discoloura­tion on the inside may be down to insect damage or infection with Hypomyces,a parasitic fungus.

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