Mushrooms: porcini mushrooms, chanterelles, suckers, a short guide to picking in the forest

It is not always easy to distinguish between an edible and poisonous mushroom. Every year, pickers fall into the trap of false resemblances. Here are some keys to avoid certain pitfalls. Small guide with the mycological association of Toulouse. (Paper published in 2021).

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Toxic or edible? This is a real question for even the most seasoned mushroom pickers. To find out more, we followed in the footsteps of specialists in the mycological association of Toulouse. Boots on, we offer you a walk in the hardwoods and mixed woods of the foothills of the Pyrenees (whose name will be kept secret so as not to contravene tradition!).

First observation: the harvest has actually started even if the season opens late. Witness the number of cars parked in reputable places and the presence of walkers waving their plastic bags with relative discretion.

Stop plastic bags

VS a, this is the first errornotes Marianna Muneretto, member of the association. We must proscribe plastic bags and prefer a basket. After one hour of contact with the plastic, the mushrooms become unfit for consumption. If you really don’t have anything else, you can line your bag with ferns.”

And also, she adds, having already seen him do it, “avoid leaving mushrooms in a car parked in direct sunlight“… In either case, regardless of the quality of the mushroom picked up, poisoning is not far off.

A capricious time

Once the parking lot behind us, the “hunt” is on. You have to have a good eye and choose your angle of view… The mushroom reveals its silhouette more when going up than when going down. Little success in the first meters. Inevitably, everyone has already been there. So don’t hesitate to go deep into the woods.

But at first, the harvest is not great. In question, the weather explains Marianna. ” It must be hot, not too long, rain, cold. So a mixture. But we haven’t had enough sun in the last few days.she believes.

Ceps versus amanitas

But after a long approach in the ferns and dead leaves, different specimens begin to appear.

The whole team agrees on the fact that to have a good harvest, it is better to carefully observe the botanical characteristics of the find in order to identify it for sure. Objective: to avoid poisoning which can be serious.

Differentiating between the main edible and poisonous species is a good start. Ceps and chanterelles are among the most popular at this time of year for their fragrant flavor in omelettes or fricassees.

How many types of porcini mushrooms are there? Ceps which are also called boletes, it is identical. There are four of them: boletus aereus (bronze boletus), boletus aestivalis (summer boletus), boletus edulis (Bordeaux boletus), boletus pinophilus (pine boletus). We learn that the color of their hat ranges from dark brown to blackish brown, passing through coffee with milk or mahogany red.

You only know a fungus if you know its first cousin, which is poisonous and deadly.

Marianna Muneretto, mycological association of Toulouse

This is when the atmosphere of a good-natured Sunday stroll turns into a homicidal thriller. And this little thrill is not to displease us.

But let’s take it step by step and start with the least desirable member of the family: the fair-footed or red-footed boletus (entirely covered in fine persistent bright red pitting without any network). It is therefore easily identified by the color of its foot. If it is edible, it must nevertheless be cooked for a long time, at least 20 minutes to avoid any digestive problem. It is poisonous raw.
The real boletus on the right in the photo. (Drag the handle to see the entire photo appear).

Edible ceps have in common a hymenium lined with whitish pores when young, then olive yellow, finally greenish when ripe. They have white, non-bluish flesh. Boletus aereus, or bronze boletus, is found under oak trees. It is distinguished by its dark brown to blackish cap.

The boletus aestivalis or summer cep has a café au lait to brown cap. The third and most common is the Bordeaux boletus, boletus edulis. He can be recognized by his brown hat. Finally, the pine boletus or boletus pinophilus is characterized by a reddish-brown to mahogany cap (wrinkled or cerebriform cap).

These edible boletes, especially the pine boletus, should not be confused with the group of Satan’s boletus or red-pored boletus.

satan boletus

This group is distinguished by a pale, greyish or café-au-lait cap, sometimes tinted pinkish, a hymenium lined with orange-yellow to red pores, and a foot often tinged with pinkish or red.

To identify it, an unstoppable clue: having good recent books. Certainly when you cut its flesh, it instantly turns blue but this does not constitute proof of toxicity.

Killer amanitas

But there is worse. As false friends of the boletus, the amanitas hold the top of the basket. “In our region, we can list the most frequent: the amanita phalloides (amanita phalloides or green hemlock), the amanita verna (spring), the amanita virosa (amanita vireuse). In the list of deadly amanitas, several are Their ingestion has disastrous consequences for the body: amanita pantherina (panther amanita), amanita muscaria (fly agaric, false acorn), amanita proxima (white amanita with red volva)”warns Marianna Muneretto.

The amanita phalloides has a cap in greenish tones, a faded green with sometimes some yellow tints, a volva in bag and a ring. Widespread, it kills every year… very slowly!

The fly agaric is undoubtedly the most spectacular in its beauty, with this bright red color and these elegant white dots (photo on the right). But it is also dangerous.

Another patented poison, panther amanita. It can be identified by its brown cap, more or less dark, on which there are flakes and striated margins, foot with ring and base of the foot with a bulb surmounted by a net bead, itself surmounted by one to two others bulges. It causes intoxication dominated by neuropsychic signs. It is more toxic than the fly agaric which gives an intoxication of the same type but without convulsion.

Their common points: the underside of the hat is made up of white strips, the foot has a ring, the base of the foot is bulbous.

In the amanitas that we come across and that can be eaten well cooked, we can also mention the golmotte or blushing amanita. It has a bulbous stem (onion) without volva, lamellae, a striated ring and brownish scales on the cap and reddening flesh.

Chanterelles, chanterelles and consort

The chanterelle is characterized above all by its hymenium provided with folds or veins (and not real blades). It displays a characteristic bright yellow color, as seen in the post below.

She also has fake friends. The omphalotus olearius (luminous false clitocybe, olive oyster mushroom) or the omphalotus olearius var. illudens (illusory clitocybe) grows in clumps around hardwood stumps, such as oaks.

When young, this mushroom has a cap similar to that of the chanterelle. It has the same color but it is distinguished because it has blades and not folds. Confusion also with hygrophoropsis aurantiaca (false chanterelle) without taste interest.

The miller and his damned soul

The sucker or white clitocybe deserves our full attention. On the one hand because it is called the “sentinel of the boletus” and on the other hand, because it can be eaten. But here too you have to be very vigilant because it has an eminently toxic false friend, the white clitopil.

The sucker on the right and the white clitophile on the left of the photo.

The sucker has a sticky hat, decurant blades that descend along the foot. It crumbles easily compared to clitopil whose flesh is more resistant and fibrous, it crumbles. The sucker gives off a very distinct smell of flour. But beware, his toxic friend too.

Another unsavory cousin, the livid entoloma. It has the same silhouette but the blades under the hat are yellowish. It is not advisable to consume it.

Humility on all occasions

The list of false friends is far from exhaustive. Hence this imperative: to be humble on all occasions. It is better to have a guide worthy of the name with you. Our guides agree that the ” Guide to mushrooms in France and Europe” by Guillaume Eyssatier and Pierre Roux is by far the most complete and explicit.

However, when you do not know, a guide or the internet is not enough. It is necessary to get closer to a mycological society or a pharmacist. When in doubt, the mushroom, whatever it is, edible or not, is left in its place, the cap turned downwards, so that the dispersion of the spores can take place and reproduction can be accomplished.

Last advice: clean the harvest immediately and consume it quickly, in reasonable quantities. Even edible mushrooms, which we eat every day and in large quantities, can become toxic.



Mushrooms: porcini mushrooms, chanterelles, suckers, a short guide to picking in the forest