Wales really is an ideal spot for wild mushroom picking. It has a damp climate and large areas of very undisturbed countryside, as well as large areas of woodlands and forests, so the mushrooms just love to live here !
Wales often experiences quite wet summers, which means that the conditions are ideal for mushrooms and the season for mushroom picking is at its best in September, but it can last into October and early November, but remember not to pick and eat any mushrooms which are ‘going off’ since even though they are edible, they may cause an upset stomach.
If you want to go on an organised trip, there are special ‘mushroom gathering’ breaks which you can book on and these will help you to identify mushrooms and be more confident about which are edible and which should be avoided at all costs. These can usually be found in various parts of Wales but tend to be limited to October and early November, when the mushroom season is in its peak.
You will often find about 20 or so different types of mushrooms on a woodland walk and a lot of these will be edible, but it is important to check them out and ensure that you are only using ones which are both palatable and edible.
In autumn time, the cep (also known as porcini or in English, the penny bun) is quite common. This can often be found around beech as well as oak trees and if you see the red toadstool ‘fly agaric’.
This is the absolute classic toadstool, with its red helmet and white flecks. But it loves the exact conditions that the cep likes, so if you find a red ‘traditional’ toadstool, keep your eyes out for a cep. These will usually only be around in October time.
Chanterelles are also quite common in Wales, although not quite as common as they are in Scotland. In Wales you will find chanterelles near birch, chestnut or hazel trees and to a lesser extent near birch trees.
They are a bright orangey tan shade and smell very faintly of apricots. However they do not grow on the rotting roots of conifers, so if you see an orange mushroom on a rotting root, leave it, because it is a ‘false chanterelle’ and is poisonous.
Throughout Wales it is possible to find all sorts of fungi and edible fungi at that. However, there is one very special mushroom which grows here, which is the wax cap fungi and is found on grassland which has basically been left alone and returned to the wild.
However, only the meadow waxcap is edible and this is a mushroom which appears in spring, is very large and has a creamy white helmet, with a creamy white underside. You will often find it around in grassy areas which have not been treated with pesticides or lawn fertiliser. It is a great mushroom to have in the spring and is sometimes called St George’s Mushroom, because it often springs up towards the end of April, on St George’s Day, which is April 23rd.