I teach people to forage for a living, and I'm the author of the most comprehensive book on (temperate European) fungi foraging ever published. (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edible-Mushrooms-Foragers-Britain-Europe/dp/0857843974).

Ask me anything about European wild mushrooms (or mushrooms in general, I know a bit about North American species too). :-)

Comments: 1662 • Responses: 101  • Date: 

director87390 karma

What's the difference between truffles and mushrooms? Why are truffles so hard to grow in captivity?

Spotted_Blewit718 karma

What's the difference between truffles and mushrooms? Why are truffles so hard to grow in captivity?

They are both types of fungi. "Mushroom" is technically the name for a fungus with a stem and a cap (so it refers simply to the shape of the fruit body). Large fungi are split into two large groups according to some microscopic features of their spore-producing parts. The biggest one are the basidiomycota, which contains all of the mushrooms and most of the other larger fungi. The other one is the ascocmycota, which contain various oddities like cup fungi and morels (which look like brains on sticks). Truffles are a specialised type of fungus in the ascomycota which have evolved to fruit underground and smell strong - they are "designed" to be dug up by animals and eaten, and the spores then survive passing through the gut of the animal, which is their dispersal method. This is highly unusual - nearly all other fungi use wind to disperse their spores.

They are hard to grow because they are symbiotic with trees and the partnership between fungus and tree has to happen in just the right way at just the right time. Replicating this process isn't easy, and it takes several years before you find out whether it has worked.

Nearly all of the cultivated species of fungus are saprophytes - they feed on dead matter, rather than being symbiotic with plants. This means you can sterilise their food and eliminate the spores of competing fungi. It is much harder to do this with symbiotic fungi because you cannot sterilise the forest floor.

Portarossa328 karma

Are there any mushrooms that are poisonous but also extremely delicious? You know, the kind of thing that might make you say, 'Well, I'm going to be a firehose from both ends for the next three days, but damn that sandwich was worth it'?

Spotted_Blewit619 karma

Are there any mushrooms that are poisonous but also extremely delicious? You know, the kind of thing that might make you say, 'Well, I'm going to be a firehose from both ends for the next three days, but

damn

that sandwich was worth it'?

The most dangerous poisonous mushroom in the world (the Deathcap, Amanita phalloides) is supposedly quite tasty, according to one lady who had eaten one by mistake and died a few days later. It has some good edible relatives, so this isn't surprising.

There are also some fungi that have been highly regarded as food for a long time, before eventually people realised they were poisonous. This includes the Brown Rollrim (Paxillus involutus), which people used to believe was edible when cooked but mildly poisonous raw, until they realised that long-term consumption leads to a massive allergic reaction and then death. It also includes two species in the genus Tricholoma (T. equestre and T. terreum) which are now known to be responsible for deaths by a mechanism called rhabdomyolysis (rapid breakdown of muscle tissue leading to kidney failure). T. equestre is known as "Yellow Knight" or "Man on Horseback" and was so esteemed that in France it was reserved for the nobility (Knights). Another one is Angel's Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens), which was highly regarded until implicated in many poisonings in Japan - it causes brain damage, but only if you eat a lot of it and you have dodgy kidneys.

Larein178 karma

I'm suprised you didn't mention Gyromitra esculenta, its very common poisonous delicious mushroom eaten atleast in Finland.

Spotted_Blewit245 karma

I'm suprised you didn't mention Gyromitra esculenta, its very common poisonous delicious mushroom eaten atleast in Finland.

Yes, controversial one that one. Contains "rocket fuel" and now banned in most European countries.

Neighboryy7 karma

Well you don't eat them without preparing first. You need to poach them multiple times and everytime a massive portion of the toxins get out. Also they are dried nearly always before used in food after poaching which should also lessen the toxicity.

Spotted_Blewit34 karma

It does not remove all the toxins.

crochet_masterpiece23 karma

Have you tried amanita muscaria? I've read they are tasty if you boil away the bad stuff. Is it worth trying for a healthy amateur mycologist from a risk/reward perspective? They look cool

Spotted_Blewit62 karma

Have you tried amanita muscaria?

No.

I've read they are tasty if you boil away the bad stuff. Is it worth trying for a healthy amateur mycologist from a risk/reward perspective? They look cool

Sounds like a lot of effort for a fungus that won't taste of much by the end of. Much better to try eating Amanita rubescens instead - it is just as common and needs only normal cooking.

fraubrennessel311 karma

Chanterelle mushrooms make me violently sick: shivering, nauseous and sweating. Is it usually to be allergic or have such a reaction? My friend's and family eat them gladly and love to pick them in autumn, but they're not for me.

Spotted_Blewit304 karma

I have come across a few people with this allergy. It is uncommon, but not unheard of.

ralphsdad305 karma

Why do some mushrooms turn blue when bruised? I've seen psilocybe and bolete mushrooms that do this.

Spotted_Blewit530 karma

Why do some mushrooms turn blue when bruised? I've seen psilocybe and bolete mushrooms that do this.

It's an oxidation process. The most spectacular colour changes happen to some boletes when cut open:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/orangebuzz2000/9684438093

Domin1c250 karma

Viking berserkers were believed to eat mushrooms before battle to make them go even crazier than usual.

Which mushrooms could they have been eating?

Spotted_Blewit299 karma

Which mushrooms could they have been eating?

Almost certainly https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_muscaria

Hubble-Gum136 karma

What is the most lethal mushroom? How quick does it harm you?

Spotted_Blewit302 karma

What is the most lethal mushroom? How quick does it harm you?

Deathcap (Amanita phalloides) and a few very close relatives (notably the Destroying Angel (A. virosa)). A handful of other fungi contain the same toxins, but are less common and less easily confused with edible species.

They initially cause very serious gastric symptoms, lasting 2 or 3 days. After this the victim feels like they are recovering, but the toxins are destroying the basic biochemical mechanisms in their liver and kidney cells (they interrupt the pathway by which the cells turn DNA into proteins, which kills the cell in a few days). Death results from liver and/or kidney failure within ten days, usually faster.

Some other fungi contain toxins that cause heart/lung failure within hours, but you have to eat quite a lot of them to die. One Deathcap is more than enough to kill an adult human,

sudo999280 karma

Deathcap and Destroying Angel are both sick metal band names

Spotted_Blewit203 karma

I had never thought of that, but you're probably right, yes.

Sciencemusk50 karma

Are you done for once you eat any of these? Or can it be treated if detected on time?

Spotted_Blewit151 karma

Are you done for once you eat any of these? Or can it be treated if detected on time?

Most people die. There is an experimental new treatment involving Milk Thistle to protect the liver while the patient is aggressively hydrated until the kidneys can slowly get rid of the toxins.

Best not to eat them though.

Avachiel31 karma

If I were to pick a Death cap, handle it, then discard it.. what is my risk of becoming poisoned just from what is on my hands?

If I touched my face, for example.

Spotted_Blewit76 karma

If I were to pick a Death cap, handle it, then discard it.. what is my risk of becoming poisoned just from what is on my hands?

If I touched my face, for example.

Very low. Probably not a good idea to rub in your eyes, but you have to put it in your mouth to get into serious trouble.

Avachiel14 karma

Good to know, thank you. I love plucking and handling mushrooms to examine them, but have always been nervous about the results. I guess I'll put all my worries onto the bugs that live within them instead.

Spotted_Blewit48 karma

. I guess I'll put all my worries onto the bugs that live within them instead.

They won't hurt you. I eat them regularly.

Avachiel19 karma

Europe must be nice, then.

Every time I've gone foraging I've pulled scorpions, spiders, and rollie pollies out of the mushrooms I find.

Spotted_Blewit75 karma

Every time I've gone foraging I've pulled scorpions, spiders, and rollie pollies out of the mushrooms I find.

Not that many scorpions in the UK, and none that live in woodland. I thought you were talking about "maggots" (insect grubs). You can eat woodlice ("rollie pollies"). Taste a bit like prawns, and natural remedy for heartburn.

McCapnHammerTime10 karma

Do they target transcription? Or some aspect of translation?

Spotted_Blewit44 karma

Do they target transcription? Or some aspect of translation?

It binds to RNA polymerase. Real spanner in the works.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha-Amanitin

TheDandyWarhol133 karma

How many different varieties of "fun mushrooms" exist in Europe and where should I be looking for them?

Spotted_Blewit186 karma

There's only two of any real interest. One is the Liberty Cap (Psilocybe semilanceatea), which grows in pasture and by the sides of grassy paths, also sometimes on playing fields. Its relative P. cyanescens is can be more of a find...not so common, but spreading, and sometimes turns up in huge quantities growing on woodchip.

Gerber_Gangbang118 karma

What's the closest call you've had?

Spotted_Blewit268 karma

What's the closest call you've had?

With a fungus? Not close at all. A few extra trips to the bathroom after being a bit experimental (intentionally).

It's not that dangerous if you know what you are doing, and take care. The people who get seriously poisononed have almost always done something stupid.

BrainOnLoan64 karma

I'd be worried about long term liver damage with the unstudied, more experimental tastings.

Just a worry wart or a minor concern worth entertaining?

Spotted_Blewit131 karma

I'd be worried about long term liver damage with the unstudied, more experimental tastings.

The fungi that contain liver-damaging toxins tend to belong to certain groups. Those groups aren't the ones to be experimental with...

babagugu111 karma

do psycho-active mashrooms lose their strength over time once harvested?

Spotted_Blewit213 karma

do psycho-active mashrooms lose their strength over time once harvested?

No. Most of them become more potent when dried, and retain their potency for quite a while (years).

Breadotop103 karma

Instead of the most toxic and/or "magic" fungi, what's the most interesting fungus you know of? Unique structure counts too, it doesn't have to be judged based on human effects lol

Spotted_Blewit251 karma

what's the most interesting fungus you know of?

Probably r/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophyllum_commune. Dismissed as inedible in Europe, but popular in the tropics because its rubbery texture protects if from decay in hot and humid conditions. Is truly cosmopolitan (occurs from the poles to the tropics). Can cause brain abscesses if sniffed. Has 28,000 sexes and a unique gill structure which opens in wet weather and closes in dry weather. Naturally inhabits wood, but nearly always found in the UK bursting through the black plastic on bales of hay that have been left for too long, like the Sigourney Weaver's aliens.

konstantinua0033 karma

can you explain the 28k sexes please?

is it like sub-species or smth?

MaxDickpower93 karma

I'm the author of the most comprehensive book on (temperate European) fungi foraging ever published

Not really a question but you should incorporate that more into your everyday life. Like when a cop pulls you over.

"You can't ticket me! Don't you know who I am? I'll have you know I'm the author of the most comprehensive book on (temperate European) fungi foraging ever published."

Spotted_Blewit43 karma

ot really a question but you should incorporate that more into your everyday life. Like when a cop pulls you over.

"You can't ticket me! Don't you know who I am? I'll have you know I'm the author of the most comprehensive book on (temperate European) fungi foraging ever published."

Well, I carry a knife with me...

Larein82 karma

Is it possible that a mushroom that is safe to eat for example in the North of Europe, but very similiar looking mushroom growing in the south of Europe isn't? Aka. can I trust my mushroom knowledge from Finland to forage them in other parts of Europe/World?

Spotted_Blewit127 karma

Is it possible that a mushroom that is safe to eat for example in the North of Europe, but very similiar looking mushroom growing in the south of Europe isn't?

Yes.

Aka. can I trust my mushroom knowledge from Finland to forage them in other parts of Europe/World?

No. That is why my book only covers temperature Europe (Alps and Pyrenees northwards). In the mediterranean there are too many different species, including some nasty ones that fall into exactly the category you describe.

ordinary_squirrel81 karma

Is it just coincidence that psilocybe mushrooms evolved to have the effect that they have on human beings, or did the two evolve together?

Do other animals like dogs or chimpanzees "trip" when they ingest psilocybin?

Spotted_Blewit137 karma

Is it just coincidence that psilocybe mushrooms evolved to have the effect that they have on human beings, or did the two evolve together?

It is a coincidence

Do other animals like dogs or chimpanzees "trip" when they ingest psilocybin?

yes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM9sOP18wMw

LizardKingsArmy69 karma

Puffballs where I live in North America are massive, and in autumn I can find dozens of volleyball, basketball size or larger. I have yet to find the best way to cook them or what to add to the flavor to make others enjoy them. Any tips?

Spotted_Blewit111 karma

Puffballs where I live in North America are massive, and in autumn I can find dozens of volleyball, basketball size or larger. I have yet to find the best way to cook them or what to add to the flavor to make others enjoy them. Any tips?

I just slice them thick and fry them like steaks, with lots of herbs.

lobaron22 karma

Do you have to clean the spores out? Or leave them as is?

Spotted_Blewit67 karma

The whole inside of the puffball, when white and firm, are the immature spores. They turn brown as they mature. They are only edible when pure white.

deanresin60 karma

How can a fungus be both edible and toxic?

Spotted_Blewit109 karma

How can a fungus be both edible and toxic?

Quite a lot of fungi are poisonous raw but edible cooked, or edible after special preparation (like boiling twice and discarding the water, then pickling in salt).

drunkestein65 karma

I wonder who figured out the 'boil twice, pickle in salt' process...

Spotted_Blewit129 karma

I wonder who figured out the 'boil twice, pickle in salt' process...

the hungry ones. This practice developed in a part of the world where famines were common. These fungi were too important a resource to waste, so somebody figured out how to make them safe to eat.

ButchWCassidy57 karma

Are you a fungi at parties?

Spotted_Blewit114 karma

Are you a fungi at parties?

Do you want to know how many times I have heard that pun?

ButchWCassidy33 karma

786 times?

Spotted_Blewit58 karma

786 times?

And the rest.

flaming_applesauce42 karma

Couple questions:

Do you know the history of how such methods for preparation were discovered to convert toxic mushrooms to edible ones? For example, the one you mentioned about boiling twice and pickling in salt, is that standard procedure for pickling or was someone just that determined how to make these things edible?

Also, is there a good rule of thumb for what you should do if you think you've poisoned yourself and aren't able to access a hospital immediately like having activated charcoal on hand, or induce vomiting, drink water, etc?

Spotted_Blewit58 karma

Do you know the history of how such methods for preparation were discovered to convert toxic mushrooms to edible ones? For example, the one you mentioned about boiling twice and pickling in salt, is that standard procedure for pickling or was someone just that determined how to make these things edible?

No. But it is an old method from a part of the world where famines were common (Russia). If your community is hungry enough, you will figure out ways to make safe and preserve food.

Also, is there a good rule of thumb for what you should do if you think you've poisoned yourself and aren't able to access a hospital immediately like having activated charcoal on hand, or induce vomiting, drink water, etc?

Not that I know of.

atreddit1341 karma

What are the chances of me picking mushrooms in the forest of Colorado and being poisoned by what I pick up? I probably couldn’t identify any species so I guess I’m wondering about the ratio of toxic/ non toxic varieties in Colorado and other parts of the world.

Spotted_Blewit128 karma

I have no specialist knowledge of the fungi of Colorado, but the proportion of toxic, edible, non-toxic and edibility-unknown species is probably about the same everywhere. There aren't that many really toxic species. Certainly fewer than ten species responsible for all of the serious poisoning incidents in north america, but some of those are quite common. And there are an awful lot of rare species of unknown edibility which might be poisonous to some degree.

Basically you need a good book that covers your region, and you need to learn the seriously poisonous species first (most will be in the genera Amanita, Cortinarius, Inocybe, Lepiota and Galerina). If you go around picking and eating stuff without knowing how to identify it, then you are playing Russian Roulette.

atreddit1328 karma

Interesting thanks. Follow up:

Would you pick eat an unknown mushroom if you were quite literally starving or at risk of starving to death?

Spotted_Blewit106 karma

Would you pick eat an unknown mushroom if you were quite literally starving or at risk of starving to death?

Maybe. My knowledge is such that not many mushrooms are completely unknown to me. I'd usually know at least what group they belong to, and be able to make an educated guess as to how likely they are to poisonous.

I have eaten fungi newly identified by science (and spreading quickly) to determine whether they edible. They are.

Avachiel80 karma

To determine whether they are edible

You and the man who discovered cheese are doing God's work.

BaidtonLauren36 karma

What is your favorite culinary mushroom? And do you have a favorite mushroom recipe?

Spotted_Blewit85 karma

What is your favorite culinary mushroom? And do you have a favorite mushroom recipe?

r/https://www.geoffdann.co.uk/cornucopia-of-craterellus/

My favourite thing to do with it is use loads of it in a slow cooker with lamb shanks. Absolutely superb.

lalesswatch33 karma

what made you want to study fungi?

Spotted_Blewit101 karma

what made you want to study fungi?

I was always interested in the natural world, from a very young age, and always interested in food. I got into fungi in my late teens after going out in search of magic mushrooms and not finding any. I decided to try to figure out which ones I could eat instead (this was 30 years ago when there were no really good books, no internet and no courses, so it took a long time). It was my hobby for the next 20 years, before I took it up as a job.

Lepmur_Nikserof25 karma

I feel like the internet has stopped so many of these potential life-paths in their tracks for me

Spotted_Blewit59 karma

I feel like the internet has stopped so many of these potential life-paths in their tracks for me

It would be impossible for anybody to get into the position I am now, starting now. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time and taking chances as they appeared. Also, there is now no point in anybody writing the book I wrote: there was a gap in the market, but there isn't any more.

greatnomad30 karma

My mother is really into alternative medicine. I am always sceptical and we have an argument about a product she bought me to treat my allergies. It's called Peralgin and it contains Beefsteak plant and Cordyceps fungus. So my question is that do you know anything about the medical properties of this fungus?

Spotted_Blewit64 karma

I wasn't aware of any medicinal properties of Fistulina (beefsteak), but some species of Cordyceps are extremely important in Chinese medicine. This is a bit of a minefield, because some Chinese remedies are pure bunk, and others definitely work, including some important fungi. Whether Cordyceps is one of them I don't know.

serg26825 karma

How many mushrooms have you come across in Europe that have psychedelic properties?

Spotted_Blewit47 karma

How many mushrooms have you come across in Europe that have psychedelic properties?

Only two in any number: Liberty Caps (Psilocybe semilanceata) and Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria). The latter also gives you a bad stomach ache.

xDELxPAWNx23 karma

What do you think about portabella mushrooms? How dangerous is the agaratine? I listened to Paul Stamets on the Joe Rogan podcast and his declination to answer was really offputting, would you be able to shed some light?

Spotted_Blewit21 karma

What do you think about portabella mushrooms? How dangerous is the agaratine? I listened to Paul Stamets on the Joe Rogan podcast and his declination to answer was really offputting, would you be able to shed some light?

You'd need to eat quite a lot of any species of Agaricus to get any bad effects. Don't worry about it.

ColeusRattus21 karma

Where I am at (south eastern Austria) , there are regions that have been hit pretty hard with fallout from the 1986 Tchernobyl desaster. You shouldn't eat more than two servings of mushrooms per annum picked up in that area because the mushrooms are still radio active.

How come, and are there similar areas in GB?

Spotted_Blewit19 karma

How come, and are there similar areas in GB?

Some parts of Europe got a very heavy dose of fallout from Chernobyl, and it takes a few decades to decay. The worst-hit parts of the UK are the Welsh hills, but they aren't as bad as the places you are talking about.

SirJimmaras20 karma

The common thinking is that "natural" coloured mushrooms (like the colour of dirt) are edible, while "unnatural" (blue/pink/yellow e.t.c.) coloured ones are poisonous. Is that generally true, or is it just based on bad science?

Spotted_Blewit55 karma

he common thinking is that "natural" coloured mushrooms (like the colour of dirt) are edible, while "unnatural" (blue/pink/yellow e.t.c.) coloured ones are poisonous. Is that generally true, or is it just based on bad science?

It is not true. Not science at all, just yet another incorrect myth. A new one to me.

Black_Moons18 karma

What are the strangest side effects of a toxic mushroom you have read about or experienced?

Spotted_Blewit27 karma

What are the strangest side effects of a toxic mushroom you have read about or experienced?

Angel's Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens) causes brain damage. That strange enough?

RedditMayne18 karma

Considering how it acts on its host, Cordyceps is a really nightmarish fungi. What keeps it in check in an ecosystem?

Spotted_Blewit37 karma

Considering how it acts on its host, Cordyceps is a really nightmarish fungi. What keeps it in check in an ecosystem?

You are talking about the one that paralyses ants, I presume. I don't know the answer. I think the ants are quite hot on getting rid of any of their number who show signs of infection. They pick them up and deposit them as far away from the nest as possible.

ShapeshiftingReptoid17 karma

What's rarest mushroom you've ever found in the wild, and what was it like when you made the discovery? Do you have any species you've always wanted to see but haven't found yet? Also what's your personal favorite fungi?

Spotted_Blewit43 karma

What's rarest mushroom you've ever found in the wild, and what was it like when you made the discovery?

Probably Lentinus tigrinus (Tiger Sawgill). I am always really excited to find any species I've never seen before, but especially the rare ones or things I've been looking for for years.

Do you have any species you've always wanted to see but haven't found yet?

One quite common one, actually. I've never found a common morel. The list of rare things I'd like to find is still quite long - at least 50 of them. There are lots of species of fungi (over seven times as many as plants) and lots of rare ones.

Also what's your personal favorite fungi?

Probably these: https://www.geoffdann.co.uk/cornucopia-of-craterellus/

fishermanmok16 karma

Do you think mushroom should be a larger part of our diet for its health benefits?

Spotted_Blewit62 karma

Do you think mushroom should be a larger part of our diet for its health benefits?

It wouldn't do any harm, for sure. Mushrooms are not some miraculous wonder-food though.

iklassic15 karma

Are there any Scientific Studies/Research of the psychedelic impact of mushrooms(psylocibin and others)?

Spotted_Blewit41 karma

Are there any Scientific Studies/Research of the psychedelic impact of mushrooms(psylocibin and others)?

There have been a few over the years, but there's no money in it, so not a lot of it gets done. Same reason there is not very much scientific research into the medicinal and psychological effects of Cannabis.

BrainOnLoan15 karma

Is collecting mushrooms in forests of Europe sustainable or do some species suffer from it?

(I assume they do suffer from habitat destruction and climate change, but I specifically mean going out with a knife a few days after rain and collecting a tasty family dinner).

Spotted_Blewit52 karma

Is collecting mushrooms in forests of Europe sustainable or do some species suffer from it?

(I assume they do suffer from habitat destruction and climate change, but I specifically mean going out with a knife a few days after rain and collecting a tasty family dinner).

The biggest problem is habitat destruction. A few species might be suffering from systematic overpicking, but they are not internationally rare. A bigger problem is people randomly picking fungi and posting pictures on the internet asking whether they are edible. This leads to rare species being picked for no reason at all.

opiumcookies15 karma

Are you of Russian descent? Sorry, I've just noticed all Russians love mushrooms and every mushroom expert I've met was also Russian. Or have you at least noticed this stereotype in your line of work?

More seriously, what is the tastiest mushroom to forage, and how do you prefer to cook your mushrooms?

Spotted_Blewit38 karma

Are you of Russian descent? Sorry, I've just noticed all Russians love mushrooms and every mushroom expert I've met was also Russian. Or have you at least noticed this stereotype in your line of work?

No, I am English born and bred. Yes, some cultures are much more mycophyllic than others. I go into this in some detail in Chapter 5 of the introductory section of my book (on culture and laws). All of the slavic-language-speaking nations are strongly mycophyllic.

More seriously, what is the tastiest mushroom to forage, and how do you prefer to cook your mushrooms?

Different mushrooms have different uses. A lot of them can just be fried, but some have very specific uses, as flavourings (some are hot/spicy, for example) or for their texture (eg jew's ear, which is used in Chinese Hot and Sour Soup).

My personal favourite is Horn of Plenty (or Black Trumpet, Craterellus cornucopioides). The smell, especially dried, is divine. I use them to flavour cream sauces (say with white fish, cream and parmesan) or best of all with lamb shanks slow cooked.

bertbob13 karma

I think a very interesting American fungus is corn smut. Do you have any experience with that?

Spotted_Blewit15 karma

I think a very interesting American fungus is corn smut. Do you have any experience with that?

No, I have never seen it. Certainly very interesting though.

Mojifinjo12 karma

How familiar are you , and what is your opinion with Paul Stamets’ work, in regard to mycelium networks, using fungi to help the environment and even better healthcare and human conscientious ?

Spotted_Blewit15 karma

How familiar are you , and what is your opinion with Paul Stamets’ work, in regard to mycelium networks, using fungi to help the environment and even better healthcare and human conscientious ?

I've read his books, but cannot comment at length on your question. It's not really my area of expertise and I am currently typing at 100 mph just to catch up with posts from an hour ago...

DyslexicMexican11 karma

This is a mushroom question

So I accidentally found myself In a cult. Basically I followed bc I had free lsd at my leasure with them. One time they gave me mushrooms. They were stemmy and small capped. The cap was just Abit larger than the stem. I remmeber them saying like "or I remember when I took mushrooms when i had no idea what they were" trying to stimulate me into having a horrible trip.

Well, I had a horrible trip. Almost death like. My question is, are there any cult shrooms people take? Or were they really magic mushrooms and they just suggested me into having a trip where I felt like I was dying and being controlled by people?....

This shit bothers me and if I can find some sort of cult mushrooms I can look at their long term effects and reverse engineer some sort of cure with myself.

Do shrooms stay in my brain forever? Because I feel like I've been straining the fuck out of my brain trying to think really hard since that.

So... Are there mushrooms that simulate dying or was it normal shrooms and alot of cult suggesting...

Spotted_Blewit19 karma

Sounds like a bit of both. The effects of hallucinogens, especially large doses, can last for months or even years. And the combination of hallucinogens and "cult activities" is likely to be pretty intense.

I hope you recover eventually. :-)

evouga11 karma

I’ve been told to avoid eating mushrooms in Europe, due to them absorbing and concentrating radioisotopes from the Chernobyl disaster. Is there any legitimacy to this concern?

Spotted_Blewit10 karma

Yes, in the areas worst affected by the disaster.

Helluiin10 karma

how large is the impact of the chernobyl fallout on the edibility of european mushrooms? during my childhood we regularly went picking mushrooms in the forest though due to people telling me how dangerous wild mushrooms are here in europe due to chernobyl i havent gone in some time

Spotted_Blewit14 karma

how large is the impact of the chernobyl fallout on the edibility of european mushrooms?

Quite bad in the worst-affected areas.

claireauriga9 karma

What's the worst that could happen if I handle some sort of fungus found in a typical British woodland? I'm guessing the most dangerous thing would be if I handled a fungus then ate something with my hands ... but how bad could it be?

Spotted_Blewit12 karma

What's the worst that could happen if I handle some sort of fungus found in a typical British woodland? I'm guessing the most dangerous thing would be if I handled a fungus then ate something with my hands ... but how bad could it be?

You won't come to any harm just handling fungi (anywhere).

depeupleur9 karma

Is it true that Amanita muscaria is not poisonous but instead is psychoactive? Is it safe to eat muscaria when found on the understanding that you will get high?

Spotted_Blewit14 karma

Is it true that Amanita muscaria is not poisonous but instead is psychoactive? Is it safe to eat muscaria when found on the understanding that you will get high?

It is both. It causes hallucinations and stomach aches.

borazine9 karma

Hello, and thanks for doing the AMA.

I have often heard that in Central Europe (Romania and Hungary specifically) that on market days there is a mushroom expert on duty, and his/her job is to vet the safety of mushrooms brought in by the foraging public. Is that true? I think that's pretty neat.

Is it a service provided by the town/municipality? What sort of qualifications would this person have?

Spotted_Blewit9 karma

I have often heard that in Central Europe (Romania and Hungary specifically) that on market days there is a mushroom expert on duty, and his/her job is to vet the safety of mushrooms brought in by the foraging public. Is that true? I think that's pretty neat.

I am aware this happens in France (in pharmacies) but did not know it happens in central Europe, so I can't answer your other questions.

llevar8 karma

Lactarius deliciosus is considered to be one of the best edible mushrooms in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe but seems to be completely ignored in Western Europe. For instance, in Germany, which is also big into mushrooms, people go crazy for boletes and chanterelles, but these beautiful and tasty mushrooms go completely unnoticed (not that I mind). Do you know of any countries in Western Europe where these are appreciated?

Spotted_Blewit9 karma

That species is also very popular in several Mediterranean countries (notably Catalonia and Cyprus). It certainly isn't ignored in my book! Quite common in south-east England, where there are lots of pine plantations.

ChadMcRad8 karma

I’m a plant pathologist and always feel ashamed when I can’t tell people many tips for hunting mushrooms (a very competitive thing in my home town). Without spoiling much of your book, what are some general tips you have?

Also, basidiomycetes or ascomycetes? Basidiomycetes are some of my favorites, personally.

Spotted_Blewit15 karma

Woodland is generally best, because it contains a greater variety of micro-habitats. Grassland is just one big habitat of the same thing, so you are more likely to find nothing or a field full of one edible species than a big variety. Some woodland is better than others, because some trees are more symbiotically attractive to fungi. (In northern Europe) pine is best of all, beech, oak, hazel are OK, sycamore and ash are rubbish. The absolute best place to try is mixed open woodland.

WhoopyTrippy7 karma

This isn't related directly to mushrooms, but I've always heard that if you found mushrooms you weren't sure were edible or poisonous, you should consult with a pharmacist. I've always found that strange somehow that this one profession would know about something as specific as that.

Anyway, is this something you endorse? Because as much as I'd trust my doctor about anything he could say that would save my life, I'm still hesitant to trust a pharmacist that, to me, probably has to answer questions about mushrooms once every blue moon, and I'm not sure they are sufficiently trained in that domain compared to medicine in general.

Spotted_Blewit15 karma

This isn't related directly to mushrooms, but I've always heard that if you found mushrooms you weren't sure were edible or poisonous, you should consult with a pharmacist. I've always found that strange somehow that this one profession would know about something as specific as that.

This is true only in France, where pharmacists are trained to recognise the common edible species.

trouser_mouse7 karma

If you had mushrooms growing in your bathroom due to damp could you eat them?

Spotted_Blewit41 karma

If you had mushrooms growing in your bathroom due to damp could you eat them?

On my first date with the lady who is now my wife, who knew I was a mushroom expert, she discovered a mushroom growing out the ceiling of her flat when she was putting her makeup on. It turned out to be edible.

StevieSF7 karma

  1. Which mushroom causes the most painful death?

  2. What is your favorite dish with mushrooms?

Spotted_Blewit13 karma

Which mushroom causes the most painful death?

Probably Brown Rollrim, which, after years of consumption, causes your body to attack your own red blood cells.

What is your favorite dish with mushrooms?

Lamb Shanks with loads and loads of Horn of Plenty.

diegollaca6 karma

Do you find the stoned ape hypothesis appealing at all, if so why or why not?

Spotted_Blewit27 karma

Do you find the stoned ape hypothesis appealing at all, if so why or why not?

Sounds a bit far-fetched to me. I think there are better explanations for the evolution of human cognition.

PloxtTY5 karma

Do you microdose?

Spotted_Blewit8 karma

No.

pkmoose5 karma

If you cook a poisonous mushroom will it still be poisonous? How about burning a poisonous mushroom to ashes; will the ash contain poisons?

Spotted_Blewit13 karma

If you cook a poisonous mushroom will it still be poisonous?

Most of them, yes. Some species are rendered edible by cooking, or other special preparation.

How about burning a poisonous mushroom to ashes; will the ash contain poisons?

No.

May6554 karma

What is the best tasting magic mushroom?

Spotted_Blewit6 karma

What is the best tasting magic mushroom?

They all taste like mud to me, apart from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_muscaria

kstacey3 karma

So.... You like to party?

Spotted_Blewit7 karma

So.... You like to party?

I have done in my time. I am currently 49 and have a 5 month old daughter, so it isn't really party time for me now.

TypowyLaman3 karma

Why do i hate mushrooms?

Spotted_Blewit6 karma

Why do i hate mushrooms?

I don't know.

arsenix3 karma

When you walk around the woods, do you pick mushrooms to eat because you can ID all the toxic ones? Or does the whole concept of eating mushrooms seem too dangerous to you?

Spotted_Blewit7 karma

When you walk around the woods, do you pick mushrooms to eat because you can ID all the toxic ones? Or does the whole concept of eating mushrooms seem too dangerous to you?

Eh? I've been teaching people to pick wild mushrooms for food for ten years, and been doing it for myself for 30!

BOS_George2 karma

Edible and toxic seem to be mutually exclusive. Is it fair to say that you’re an expert on wild European fungi or is there another variant that I’m neglecting to appreciate?

Spotted_Blewit8 karma

Edible and toxic seem to be mutually exclusive. Is it fair to say that you’re an expert on wild European fungi or is there another variant that I’m neglecting to appreciate?

Obviously if you are interested in edible fungi, it pays to be interested in poisonous ones! To answer your question though, there are quite a lot of fungi which are poisonous raw, or even poisonous when cooked normally, but which can be made edible by cooking or special preparation. Of particular note are numerous species in the family Russulaceae (including "The Sickener", Russula emetica) which have to be boiled twice and the water discarded, before being compressed and pickled in salt. They are considered a delicacy in this state, especially in Russia, where they are consumed as a starter with a shot of vodka.

thisisnotmyusername32 karma

I live in Southern California (Orange County). Can I forage in this area? If so, where? If not, what’s the closest place I could start?

Spotted_Blewit6 karma

I live in Southern California (Orange County). Can I forage in this area? If so, where? If not, what’s the closest place I could start?

Sorry, but I do not have local knowledge of California. I am English.

Hero_-52 karma

What are some basic rules I can follow about scavenging mushrooms out in the wild and being able to tell if they're dangerous or fine? There any tricks the give away dangerous ones?

Spotted_Blewit8 karma

There are no universal rules of thumb which reliably work. Any you hear are bunkum. There are some rules of thumb which work within specific groups of fungi, but you have to know the rule and get the group right.

Swag_Attack1 karma

If i walk into the woods now and eat the first mushroom i see. What is the chance of it killing me, making me sick or getting me high?

Spotted_Blewit6 karma

If i walk into the woods now and eat the first mushroom i see. What is the chance of it killing me, making me sick or getting me high?

Very low chance of it getting you high or killing you, reasonable chance of making you sick. Most likely it won't do any of those things, but won't taste that great either.

freshtonypepperoni1 karma

Know where I could find some "fun" mushrooms in Wisconsin?

Spotted_Blewit4 karma

Know where I could find some "fun" mushrooms in Wisconsin?

Can't help you with that I am afraid. I live in England. :-)

FermatSim1 karma

Which (in your opinion) are the tastiest fungi? And which is the rarest one that you've ever eaten?

Spotted_Blewit2 karma

Which (in your opinion) are the tastiest fungi?

My personal favourite is Horn of Plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides) (https://www.geoffdann.co.uk/cornucopia-of-craterellus/)

And which is the rarest one that you've ever eaten?

Probably http://www.mushroomexpert.com/lentinus_tigrinus.html. Very rare in the UK, only grows around variable-level lakes on waterlogged willow, but cultivated now in the US.

Birdseeding1 karma

As a Scandinavian who until recently lived in Britain, I'm constantly surprised at how few people there have eaten any other mushroom than the common button mushroom. (At the most Portobello, which is the same species, right?) Being English, why do you think that the mushroom foraging culture is so much less prevalent there than in many other parts of Europe? Is there anywhere where even fewer people eat wild mushrooms?

Spotted_Blewit2 karma

As a Scandinavian who until recently lived in Britain, I'm constantly surprised at how few people there have eaten any other mushroom than the common button mushroom.

that is changing quite quickly. My book is intended to help.

(At the most Portobello, which is the same species, right?)

"Portobello" just refers to the large-capped Agaricus campestris and cultivated mushroom (bisporus)

Being English, why do you think that the mushroom foraging culture is so much less prevalent there than in many other parts of Europe? Is there anywhere where even fewer people eat wild mushrooms?

Ireland and Holland are as mycophobic as the UK, and Scandinavia and Germany aren't far behind. I go into this in quite some detail in chapter 5 of my book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edible-Mushrooms-Foragers-Britain-Europe/dp/0857843974. There's a link with language families. Speakers of Slavic and Romance languages are mycophyllic (but like different sorts, respectively), speakers of Germanic languages much less so.

random_testaccount1 karma

When the topic of fungi comes up, one part of Europe (north west) will ask questions like 'will I die if I accidentally touch this mushroom?' or 'what is the deadliest mushroom you know?'. The rest of Europe (south and east) will ask about your favorite recipes and which wild mushrooms you think are the tastiest.

I'm interested in the origin of this huge cultural difference. Is there a geographical / biological reason for this? Are there more toxic mushrooms in the north west, and more tasty ones in the south and east? Or is it purely cultural?

I'm from the North West, and I would definitely feel the urge to wash my hands if I accidentally (certainly not on purpose!) touched a fungus.

Spotted_Blewit2 karma

I'm interested in the origin of this huge cultural difference. Is there a geographical / biological reason for this?

There a whole section of my book about this (Chapter 5 of the introductory section, on culture and laws). There is a link between language families and attitudes to fungi (including which edible fungi are preferred). Which suggests very old cultural differences. I do go into this at length in the book, and can't do so here because people are posting questions at the rate of two or three a minute...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edible-Mushrooms-Foragers-Britain-Europe/dp/0857843974

Are there more toxic mushrooms in the north west, and more tasty >>ones in the south and east? Or is it purely cultural?

It is purely cultural.

hellohello3331 karma

How does one begin to becoming an expert in plants? Do you recommend reading or actually being out there in the wild looking and learning that way?

Spotted_Blewit1 karma

How does one begin to becoming an expert in plants? Do you recommend reading or actually being out there in the wild looking and learning that way?

Got to do both.

Thedutchjelle1 karma

I wonder, why are certain mushrooms so supertoxic while others are not? Champigons (Agaricus bisporus) are popular food so their survival rates should be lower in the wild than something no animal dares to touch.. yet they persist?

Spotted_Blewit2 karma

I wonder, why are certain mushrooms so supertoxic while others are not?

Deer and Rabbits can eat deathcaps with no ill-effects, because they have an enzyme that breaks down the toxin before it reaches their bloodstream. Toxic fungi are not toxic to deter predation: it is co-incidental.

Avachiel1 karma

I love to hunt mushrooms of all sorts, but I particularly enjoy hunting down Psyilocybin mushrooms.

I don't do this to ingest them, as I don't have a death wish for accidentally eating the wrong little brown mushroom..

Any advice you can give me towards finding these little guys?

Alternatively, I love collecting mushrooms and would love to display them as trophies. Do you know any simple methods for drying and displaying them?

Spotted_Blewit1 karma

Any advice you can give me towards finding these little guys?

Depends where you are. In England, try sheep pasture on north-facing slopes.

Flamin_Jesus1 karma

In your experience, what wheather is ideal to find Parasols (my favorite edible mushroom)? Also what are the best conditions to find Sparassis Crispa? I've only ever found one when I was a kid and I'm curious, now as an adult, to eat it again.

Spotted_Blewit2 karma

In your experience, what wheather is ideal to find Parasols (my favorite edible mushroom)?

Usually in late summer / early autumn a week or two after heavy rain.

Also what are the best conditions to find Sparassis Crispa? I've only ever found one when I was a kid and I'm curious, now as an adult, to eat it again.

This fruits from wood, and is not as weather-dependent as ground-fruiting species. I usually find it in September in SE England.

girlgoingplaces1 karma

Hello fellow fungi-phile! Could you recommend any outstanding mycological excursions, events or educational opportunities in Europe (or globally)? I am interested in identification, foraging and scientific research.

Spotted_Blewit2 karma

Hello fellow fungi-phile! Could you recommend any outstanding mycological excursions, events or educational opportunities in Europe (or globally)? I am interested in identification, foraging and scientific research.

This one is usually quite interesting: http://www.thewildsideoflife.co.uk/page9.htm

I run courses throughout the autumn (on foraging) in Kent and Sussex.

https://www.geoffdann.co.uk/fungi-foraging-in-kent-and-sussex-2018/

Sotex0 karma

[deleted]

Spotted_Blewit3 karma

What Irish mushrooms should I go hunting for this season?

There's at least 300 species of edible fungi in Ireland, nearly all of which are covered in my book (subtitle is "a forager's guide to the wild fungi of Britain, Ireland and Europe). (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edible-Mushrooms-Foragers-Britain-Europe/dp/0857843974)

Every year is different, so I can't tell you which particular species will have a good year in 2018. But the mushrooms often do well after a hot summer.

kidriverbug0 karma

When I was a kid (roughly age 3), I apparently ran into my parent’s backyard and ate a mushroom I found growing there. After a rushed trip to the hospital, it turned out the mushroom was edible.

What were the odds?

Spotted_Blewit1 karma

What were the odds?

Of it being edible? Reasonably high.

jmoda0 karma

What makes magic mushrooms....so magical?

Spotted_Blewit1 karma

What makes magic mushrooms....so magical?

Psilocybin. As for the deeper questions you are implying...I could spent all evening answering this one post, but since they are coming in like clockwork I don't have time to elaborate. It's a big question. I also have a degree in philosophy and cognitive science, and have gone from being an outspoken Dawkins-like atheist to a mystic/occultist, but this happened long after I first tried magic mushrooms.

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Spotted_Blewit6 karma

NB: the mods know who I am because I edited a page on my website to prove it (www.geoffdann.co.uk).

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Spotted_Blewit3 karma

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