Infundibulicybe geotropa (previously clitocybe geotropa)
- Identification – 4/5 – Large – fully grown caps can be easily 20cm in diameter; Strongly decurrent gills (running down the stem); Strongly funnel shaped when mature; Always a raised boss (bump) in the centre of the cap (you may have to feel for it); Inrolled margin (cap edge) on younger specimens; White spores; Pleasing sweet, floral fragrance, sometimes with a hint of bitter almonds; Trooping (gregarious) – you will very seldom find one on its own. Similar species: clouded agaric, tawny funnel which is smaller and brown/tan coloured (both similarly edible).
- Edibility – 4/5 – A delicious, meaty mushroom, though occasionally people struggle to digest them – eat only a small amount, well cooked first time. Discard the tough stipes (or add to the stock pot)
- Distribution – 4/5 – Common
- Habitat – Among deciduous leaf litter in woods, wood edges and hedgerows. These are saprophytic fungi, so can be found anywhere with rich, rotting deciduous leaf litter.
- Season – October – January
Large, distinctive, common and delicious, these mushrooms tick every box for the novice forager. Like many saprophytes (rotting) fungi, they tend to appear towards the end of autumn in hedgerows and deciduous wood edges. If all this sounds too good to be true…perhaps it is. A small proportion of people don’t get on with this mushroom (mild gastric upset). Personally, I think its such a delicious, meaty mushroom that its worth trying a small amount well cooked first time round. I’ve never met or heard of anyone who doesn’t get on with it. Such warnings tend to get over emphasised by nervous publishers. You don’t see bread cookbooks warning about gluten intolerance on every recipe. The stipes get tough so remove them and add to the stock pot. Sear the caps as you would meat, until they start to caramelise, emphasising their rich umami.