Australian Edible Mushrooms and Fungi
This blog and the photos and fungi featured are found on Gumbaynggirr country in NE NSW. The Gumbaynggirr people are the traditional owners of this area and have never ceded sovereignty over their lands.
This Page will be a record of the edible, interesting and poisonous fungi I find within about 100km of Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia. The coast has a subtropical climate with high rainfall while in the hinterland we have a plateau with mountains that reach up to 1500m with the odd snow fall in winter. the range of climate zones and micro climates along with the multitude of vegetation types makes this area a fascinating place for mushroom hunting. To date I have found over thirty varieties of edible fungi in the area. To see my list click here.
In Australia the eating of foraged mushrooms is regarded by many as dangerous. This is the result of a lack of a foraging culture, some would call it full-blown Anglo mycophobia (I find this a bit strong). The loss of indigenous knowledge of fungi, fear based on misinformation and an exaggeration of the risks largely because the media loves to report on mushroom poisonings. Poisonings are rare and deaths are very rare, almost all deaths come back to one mushroom species, amanita phalloides, the death cap. The majority of non lethal poisonings are from a handful of easily identifiable species. To see my list of local poisonous mushrooms click here.
Identifying mushrooms is a learned skill, anyone who is prepared to spend the time can become competent. Without the required skills and knowledge mushroom foraging is risky and can result in misadventure, or worse. There is one rule that applies to all mushroom species and almost guarantees my safety: If I cant ID the mushroom I don’t eat it. Fortunately most mushrooms are benign and some are delicious. There is no standard test for mycotoxins, and many of the other ‘rules’ only apply to certain genus. Identifying a new fungi is often an interesting and exciting process. Its well worth while to take the time to learn the basics.
I will provide details and photos of the different mushrooms I have eaten, however the onus is on the individual to always do your own due diligence before consuming any wild food. The first question should always be “what species is it?” and not “is it edible?” Most mushrooms are not edible and many that are have look alikes that can be poisonous or with unknown edibility. I never eat a new mushroom species unless I am one hundred percent sure I know what it is and I have double checked, generally it will be the second or third time I have found this species that I try it, then its only a very small taste of cooked mushroom. Its never safe to assume a mushroom is edible and its not reliable to have someone else ID the mushroom for you, on a facebook page for example.
Unfortunately researching edibility of Australian mushrooms is likely to leave you with more questions then answers. We have to use a variety of different sources. A Field Guide to Australian Fungi by Bruce Fuhrer is our best field guide. There are some other blogs with information about edibility the two best are Tall Trees and Mushrooms and Mushroaming. The Queensland Mycological Society has an excellent online field guide. Fungi map also has one. The Australian Wild Mushroom Hunters Facebook page is good. Mushroomexpert is a North american website that is helpful. wikipeadia and a google image search once you have a name are also useful. I also like using the Atlas of living Australia to search for records of fungi. In short, we have a great tool at our disposal, its called the interweb, use it but don’t expect to always get a clear cut answer on edibility.
That’s enough for now, Happy Foraging!