The lost art of mushrooming

Visitors looking at fungi in the garden at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire.

Have you ever seen a chicken of the woods? Do you know when you can eat a giant puffball? Have you ever touched a slippery jack? The world of mushrooms is full of outlandish names and intriguing facts, and you'll need to know your stuff before you go picking them. Mark Pethullis, gardener at Beningbrough Hall and keen mushroom hunter, tells us more:

Food for free

'It’s hard to learn about mushrooming from books. They can be bewildering and use all the Latin names. Historically, of course, people have always foraged for food but these days most people don't have the knowledge to make it safe.

'That’s why foraging events, led by experts, have become so popular. You can learn about a lot about fungi and wild food. You never know what you’re going to find.'

Foraging fun

'October is a lovely time of the year to be out and about. Mushrooms can be as bright as flowers and striking to look at and our forays take you off the beaten track. With a guide you see things that you wouldn't otherwise notice. People also enjoy seeing the autumn colour, birds and berries.'

Never eat any fungi you have picked without being absolutely sure of the identification, verified by an expert.

Top Tip

" 'Carry an up to date identification guide with you when you’re looking for mushrooms. There are also some great apps out there these days.'"
- Jonny Tomlinson, ranger