Thursday, 23 September 2010


Good morning. I'm feeling better now. Better now. Over on Cro's latest post, Sue says that she does not trust herself to safely identify edible mushrooms out in the wild, so I thought I would point you in the direction of this book by Roger Phillips - probably the best photographic book to identify species that has been written (sorry about the crappy little image). It is certainly the best that I have ever found. Some of the little hand illustrated books on sale over the last 40 years are positively dangerous to use, both because of the poor drawing, and the way they have been compiled, despite dire warnings about the most poisonous of species.

There is one golden rule which I always strictly adhere to when foraging - if you cannot positively identify it without the slightest hint of doubt, don't eat it. The most exciting and tasty species cannot be confused with any others, once you have handled them a couple of times, anyway, so a little experience goes a long way, rather like a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. There are two or three species which will surely kill you within 48 hours, so what you do is become very familiar with them as soon as possible - actually look for them and compare them to others, then there will be no mistakes.

I usually go out with one species in mind - Cepe, Penny Bun, Porcini, Boletus Edulis - they are all the same thing, and - to my mind - the Holy Grail. Any other good species found on the way are a bonus.

Phillip Rogers also produces a similar book for North America too, and I bet it is every bit as good as this one.

Happy Hunting (just stay away from my patch).


  1. I've just posted some pictures of the two most dangerous mushrooms in Britain, as compared to the Cepe.

  2. My Nan (father's mum) used to take my Mum foraging...Mum always thought Nan was trying to get rid of her.
    I think I will stay with the farmer's market...!

  3. For some bizarre reason I have THREE copies of Roger Phillips' book. You're right, some mushroom books should be banned; his is excellent!

    Tom, we should not encourage too many people to go mushrooming; there's nothing worse than finding other people in the woods, especially with filled baskets.

  4. I used to have 2 copies, but gave away one, which I now regret. It's useful to keep one in the car and one at home. You're right about the encouragement thing - that's why I have been dwelling on how horrible it is to die of amanita poisoning.

    So, to recap, it is impossible to expel the toxins from your system by urinating. What happens is that - as the poison circulated around your body - the enzymes build up and up in your vital organs, attacking your kidneys until they cease to function. 24 hours of extreme pain and vomiting are followed by a feeling of relief that it is all over, then you turn bright yellow and die about 24 hours after that.

    Happy hunting!