NZ Lifestyle Block

Why you don’t want to be a self-taught fungi forager

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Most New Zealanders don't forage for wild mushrooms as many toxic types look incredibly similar to edible ones. There are good reasons to be cautious.

Theres and Hannes Krummenach­er are commercial mushroom growers who run Neudorf Mushrooms on their block at Moutere, 40km west of Nelson.

Hannes grew up witnessing the need for caution first-hand. In his Swiss homeland, it's a traditiona­l, seasonal ritual to forage for wild mushrooms. Locals have traditiona­l knowledge to safely forage, plus they can check with an expert. Hannes' father was the mushroom controller in the family's home region, sorting through baskets and removing anything poisonous.

Both Theres and Hannes warn foragers to be wary of false informatio­n on the internet. Websites are useful tools they say, but there's a high chance of accidental­ly collecting poisonous fungi. They also never identify fungi from photos if someone asks – instead, it's crucial to show them to an experience­d, trusted person.

“It is vitally important to get it right,” says Hannes. “We always, always advise people to have an experience­d person with them when they are searching for edible fungi. For example, death caps often grow close to and resemble field mushrooms. It's better to throw them all away than take the chance.”

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