We have lots of fungal fruiting bodies (aka mushrooms and toadstools) showing up in the orchards at the moment. Some are popping up along the woodchip paths, others at the base of old trees and others in hollowed out rotting wood. Fungi are a vital part of the ecosystem, helping with amongst other things the process of degredation and recycling of nutrients.
A couple of years ago, we inoculated some freshly fallen wood with a selection of edible and medicinal mushroom spores. We used inoculated softwood plugs and sealed them from the air with beswax. It smelted great, looked natural and the move ate it! So we resealed with paraffin candle wax and hoped for the best. Nothing happened last autumn; the big logs just sat there. But the past week weeks have been exciting (in a mushroom sort of way). There is clearly fungal activity in the wood pile and we have mushrooms! Despite our hopes that the inoculated spores have worked through the wood, we certainly won’t be harvesting or eating these shrooms.
We are not at all sure of which species these are and so must presume that they are all inedible. Carolina Ivanescu took these lovely photos last week. Some show oyster like mushrooms but nothing is certain.
It is very easy to make mistakes when foraging mushrooms, even experts get it wrong sometimes so these little beauties are gifts for the local wildlife.
This autumn has brought an usually high number of reports about foragers (and their companions) being accidentally poisoned in Europe. I’m not sure why there have been so many cases this year. Perhaps it’s a good year for a poisonous look-a-like of some well loved wild mushroom? Whatever the reason, I don’t recommend foraging them and am happy to look at these in the orchards.