Not surprisingly, we make a habit of searching out mushroom related media of all kinds and it has become a bit of a Christmas and birthday tradition for friends and family to arrive with unusual presents with a mushroom theme.
This year’s hit has been an excellent book by the botanist and mycologist Patrick Harding, “Collins Mushroom Miscellany”, which is stuffed to the gills with fascinating facts about the biology, history, folklore and much more of this amazing kingdom. Incredibly well researched, each chapter contains a wealth of information that is presented with a light touch that makes it easy to digest, and the lover of edible wild mushrooms will find much of interest to enjoy.
A chapter entitled “Climate Change” feels particularly relevant at the moment and not just because it’s such a topical subject, but because it discusses fruiting seasons for fungi.
One of the few spring fruiting mushrooms is due to make its appearance shortly. Patrick writes: “St.George’s Mushroom (Calocybe Gambosa) first appeared around 17th May in the 1970s, but by the 2000s it was averaging 22nd April, the day before St George’s Day.” Last year we picked it to the day, on 23rd April and it will be interesting to see if the very late spring has any effect on the fruiting date this year. Edible and good, this mushroom is relatively easily identifiable because there are simply no other white mushrooms that appear this early in the season. Patrick gives talks and runs courses, many of them in the North West and the Peak District. For more information about them and the man himself have a look at his website here.
Finally, on the subject of mushrooms in the media I can’t recommend this Finnish website by the Arctic Flavours Association too highly. There are detailed descriptions of a selection of wild mushrooms, berries, and herbs and excellent photos to accompany them, and many interesting tables of information including a fascinating one of mushroom names in many different languages. Wonderful to see such enthusiasm for wild foods.
To go to the website click here.
Update 19/05/2013: Patrick has informed us that the Collins Mushroom Miscellany is sadly out of print. If you want a copy it might be worth contacting the publisher Harper Collins directly. However a new updated edition with new names and more habitat info of Patrick’s Collins Gem Mushrooms is due out this autumn, it’s a really useful little pocket guide which we can thoroughly recommend.