Nature Table: The Wood Blewit

Wood blewits are large woodland mushrooms. 

Wood blewits are large woodland mushrooms. The fruiting bodies are starting to appear now and, if the winter is mild, will continue until well into December. They grow in mature deciduous woodland and are particularly associated with old beech trees but occasionally appear in coniferous woodland, hedgerows, and even gardens.

The cap is six to 12 centimetres across, conical at first then becoming flat with wavy edges. It’s blue-lilac, maturing to brown and then a pale buff. The stem is usually bulbous at the base and the whole mushroom is strongly perfumed — it’s been described as smelling like frozen orange juice. It’s quite common but may be decling in numbers due to over-collecting by knowledgable people from continental Europe. It’s one of the most delicious Irish wild mushrooms but there are poisonous species growing in our woods so identification needs to be certain, preferably confirmed by an expert mycologist. It’s been cultivated in Britain, France, and the Netherlands, though gourmets claim the wild ones taste better.


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