Which mushrooms picked in Suffolk are safe to eat?

The Fly Agaric mushroom Picture: TONY WILLS

The Fly Agaric mushroom Picture: TONY WILLS - Credit: TONY WILLS

More mushrooms are appearing in Suffolk’s countryside than usual – but naturalists are reminding would-be foragers not to pick deadly fungi.

The Amethyst Deceiver Picture: IAN KIRK

The Amethyst Deceiver Picture: IAN KIRK - Credit: IAN KIRK

Fungi grow in all sorts of environments, some specific to species of trees, but they typically thrive in damp and shady conditions with readily available organic matter to use as a food source.

It is thought their numbers are growing due to the wetter weather in the county compared to this time last year.

Suffolk Mushroom Recorder Neil Mahler, who catalogues the different species of mushrooms that appear in Suffolk, has two messages for people considering going foraging: Only pick what you need and only pick what you know.

"It used to be the case people thought of toadstools as poisonous things in the woods and mushrooms as the things we buy in the supermarket, but now we call fungi in the countryside mushrooms too.


You may also want to watch:


"People out foraging don't always appreciate there's no need to go out into the countryside and pick everything you see.

"This time of year animals want to fatten up for the winter period.

Yellow Stainers, found in October 2019 in Christchurch Park, Ipswich. Although they resemble shop-bo

Yellow Stainers, found in October 2019 in Christchurch Park, Ipswich. Although they resemble shop-bought white mushrooms, they will cause vomiting if eaten Picture: NEIL MAHLER - Credit: NEIL MAHLER

Most Read

"There's a danger that species of mushrooms will become rarer if people keep picking them.

"I'd encourage people to only pick in moderation and for their immediate needs."

Mr Mahler added that even the poisonous mushrooms may taste delicious if eaten.

"They don't all look like shop-bought white mushrooms, but people do assume that anything that looks like that can be eaten.

"One of these is called the Yellow Stainer, which bruises yellow when squeezed.

"If you put that into your frying pan it'll spoil your whole dish. It won't kill you but it'll make you sick.

The Deathcap, which is responsible for more deaths than any other mushroom worldwide Picture: NEIL M

The Deathcap, which is responsible for more deaths than any other mushroom worldwide Picture: NEIL MAHLER - Credit: NEIL MAHLER

"Another one which is much more dangerous is the Deathcap, which is olive green in colour.

"When people pick them by mistake they fry them up they say they're delicious - people have been asked before they died and said so.

"Just because something tastes nice doesn't mean that it's edible."

Only a few species of mushroom in the UK are protected under law, but Mr Mahler wants people to consider collecting photographs rather than specimens of the mushrooms that grow in Suffolk.

One in particular is the Lion's Mane mushroom - known as the Bearded Tooth in the UK.

"It's very good to eat and if you look on an American website you'll see you can pick it, but in the UK it's very rare and shouldn't be picked," added Mr Mahler.

Lion's Mane has been found scarcely in Suffolk and is protected in the UK, but grows redily in the U

Lion's Mane has been found scarcely in Suffolk and is protected in the UK, but grows redily in the US and can be bought as an over-the-counter supplement Picture: NEIL MAHLER - Credit: NEIL MAHLER

What does Suffolk Wildlife Trust say?

Ben McFarland, head of conservation at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: "While it's great that people can get out and about and enjoy the autumn season, as always with foraging it's important to be aware of the potential wildlife impact.

"Never collect from nature reserves and always be mindful of disturbing roosting birds as well as wading birds on estuaries.

"Wild food is wonderful, but it is also vital for the survival of many species."

What mushrooms might I see in Suffolk this time of year?

Here are just some of the many mushrooms Suffolk Wildlife Trust say you might see in Suffolk right now:

The Jelly Ear fungus Picture: KATJA SCHULZ

The Jelly Ear fungus Picture: KATJA SCHULZ - Credit: KATJA SCHULZ

Jelly ear fungus

So named because it has a fleshy, velvety feel and similar shape to the human ear, this mushroom grows all year round and historically used to treat sore throats.

The Beefsteak Mushroom Picture: THEAGOTTMER

The Beefsteak Mushroom Picture: THEAGOTTMER - Credit: THEAGOTTMER

Beef steak fungus

Found on oak trees, this fungus changes colour with age and when fully developed resembles a raw beef steak.

The Oyster Mushroom Picture: ROSSER1954

The Oyster Mushroom Picture: ROSSER1954 - Credit: ROSSER1954

Oyster mushroom

A common edible mushroom, it is usually found growing on deciduous trees.

The Fly Agaric mushroom Picture: TONY WILLS

The Fly Agaric mushroom Picture: TONY WILLS - Credit: TONY WILLS

Fly agaric - Poisonous

Has distinctive looking red fungus with white warty spots and has been used as an insecticide.

The Mosaic Puffball Picture: GEORGE CHERNILEVSKY

The Mosaic Puffball Picture: GEORGE CHERNILEVSKY - Credit: GEORGE CHERNILEVSKY

Mosaic puffball

Grows on grassland and sandy heath and has been used as an antibiotic in the past.

The Stinkhorn Picture: ATABONG ARMSTRONG

The Stinkhorn Picture: ATABONG ARMSTRONG - Credit: ATABONG ARMSTRONG

Stinkhorn

A tall, white fungus with a slimy, dark olive-colored cone, it is found near rotting wood and smells like rotting flesh, attracting insects. Despite all these qualities, it is also edible.

The Earthstar mushroom Picture: TRAUDYDEQUADROS

The Earthstar mushroom Picture: TRAUDYDEQUADROS - Credit: Traudydequadros

Earth star

When young the fungus resembles a puffball, but then the outer layer splits to form a characteristic star shape.

The Shaggy Inkcap Picture: ALASTAIR RAE

The Shaggy Inkcap Picture: ALASTAIR RAE - Credit: ALASTAIR RAE

Shaggy inkcap

Usually found on grassland, when they first emerge they are cylindrical, and then the bell-shaped caps open out. The mushroom also turns black and dissolves shortly after picking.

Chicken of the Woods fungus Pictyre: SARAH SMITH

Chicken of the Woods fungus Pictyre: SARAH SMITH - Credit: SARAH SMITH

Chicken of the woods

Usually found on oak trees, it has been known to grow to up to 45kg in weight and - incredibly - tastes like chicken. Causes the tree it grows on to rot.

The Amethyst Deceiver Picture: IAN KIRK

The Amethyst Deceiver Picture: IAN KIRK - Credit: IAN KIRK

Amethyst deceiver

Found in both deciduous and coniferous forests, new mushrooms are lavender in colour but soon fade, making them harder to identify.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter