The amazing fungi kingdom is, without a doubt, the most fascinating and perhaps the most rewarding area of foraging. From choice edible mushrooms, such as Chanterelles and Ceps, to weird and wonderful Witch's Eggs and the brain-like Cauliflower fungus, mushrooms are so diverse in colour, shape, form and smell, and can really capture the imaginations of children and adults alike. Both Arthur and I love foraging for plants, but come late Summer and Autumn, it's all about the mushrooms. Nothing is more satisfying than stumbling upon a gorgeous fairy ring of golden chanterelles on a sunny August afternoon, or finding the elusive and much sought-after King of the edible mushroom world, the cep, poking out of the fallen leaves in the woods. Even ones that aren't meant for eating can be beautiful things to admire and explore - who doesn't stop to marvel at the stunning Fly Agaric when they find one - the quintessential red and white toadstool of fairytale lore?
People are often surprised to learn that there are far more poisonous plants, than poisonous fungi in the UK. As a nation, we are quite mycophobic, and I'm sure most of us have heard those all too familiar words: "Don't touch those mushrooms, they may be poisonous!" at some point in our lives, probably shouted by our parents, grandparents, or both! Contrary to this well-meaning advice, all mushrooms in the UK, even the deadly poisonous ones, are safe to touch - it's only when you eat a poisonous mushroom that their toxins have an effect. So don't be afraid to sit down and really explore a mushroom with your child - give them a prod, a stroke, and a sniff - just don't eat them, unless of course, you 100% know what they are and that they're edible.
All of the 20+ mushroom species in this section are edible, were foraged by Arthur and me together, and have been chosen because of their ease of identification. They all have no, or very few lookalikes, and providing you follow the ID guidelines provided, it will be difficult to confuse them with anything else. That being said, it is always a good idea to double or triple check your ID to be 100% certain that it is what you think it is. Use a field guide, a book, the internet, and an app to be really sure - don't just rely on one source. If there's any doubt, don't risk it.