Fungi in lawns

by Adam Pasco

Perhaps I'm just too cautious, but much as I enjoy eating mushrooms I just can't bring myself to eat wild fungi.

Perhaps I'm just too cautious, but much as I enjoy eating mushrooms I just can't bring myself to eat wild fungi. And this is despite that fact that my lawn is currently providing a very good crop of wild fungi, although I have no idea whether they're of the edible or poisonous variety.

Following the wet weather we all experienced through August I've been mowing off mushrooms ever since. It does seem a waste at a time when we're all looking at ways to grow more fruit and veg at home to keep our food bills down, but without an accurate identification of these fungi by an experienced mycologist I've no idea exactly what variety of fungus they are. Yes, I've got a range of books at home that could help me identify them, but I don't trust myself to identify them accurately, especially if they did appear to be edible. Would I really risk feeding them to my family?

I've often watched top chef Antonio Carluccio share his passion for collecting and eating wild mushrooms. Across Europe this practice appears to be far more common than in the UK.

However, misidentification can be dangerous. Earlier last month Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer, and his family mistakenly ate poisonous mushrooms when in the Highlands on holiday. The fungus they ate, Cortinarius speciosissimus, caused renal failure, and the family needed life-saving dialysis treatment! I hope the family have now fully recovered, but this story highlights the dangers of eating any fungi without having them accurately identified.

Autumn is the time when you can join fungus forays around the country, going out with an experienced guide to marvel at these essential organisms that play such an important part in the natural composting cycle. Perhaps I should join a group and find out whether the fungi in my lawn could be feeding me rather than being left for creepy-crawlies in the garden to enjoy.

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Gardeners' World Web User 23/10/2008 at 20:15

I, too, have long wondered how I could introduce known edible mushroom species into my lawn as it really does support a bewildering array of fung. If the conditions are good enough for locally wild mushrooms is there a known, easily identifiable edible species I could introduce? Cooking with fresh mushrooms, as opposed to the bland, tasteless varieties offered in the shops would be an absolute pleasure!

Gardeners' World Web User 24/10/2008 at 10:59

For those of you who might not want mushrooms on the lawn - We were troubled with fungi on the lawn and were told that there was nothing avilble to kill them. My husband having noticed that wallpaper paste contained fungicide, diluted paste until it was liguid and poured that on the fungi and they went away!! So if you can't eat them or have small children who are likely to, as we had at the time, a solution. (Excuse the pun)

Gardeners' World Web User 24/10/2008 at 11:25

We have got a lot of mushrooms this year, growing in the borders and lawn,but like you i would be too afraid to try them. When you read the horror stories of people eating them and then dying because they've been poisoned, it puts me off.I would need a funghi expert to reasure me they were ok !!

Gardeners' World Web User 24/10/2008 at 14:05

Are you completely MAD!?!?Only someone who's QUALIFIED should even consider eating any type of fungus growing wild or in a garden.That's why we have mushrooms etc for sale in markets and shops - BECAUSE THEY WON'T KILL US!!!!!

Gardeners' World Web User 24/10/2008 at 14:08

p.s. anyone who thinks all shop/market bought mushrooms are bland and tasteless 1; is going to the wrong retailer and 2; can't cook!!get rid of the toadstools because children find them facinating and any 'free' meal shouldn't be a reason to risk death[v.painful at that] my son's a MPharm-and he knows...

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