Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Mushrooms - Blewit (Lepista or Clitocybe nuda) lookalikes

Blewits appear when the first frosts are just approaching and nights are getting cold. The mushroom have a white/lavender hue. And often the margin of the cap is tinted with blueish lavender color.

Gills of same color, pale lavender. But variations of cream, pale pink and pale brown also possible.
Gills very close together.

They have also an enlarged thick short stem. But importantly, there shouldn't be any sac surrounding the base (volva), typical of amanitas.

Usually grow in leaf litter.

Spores are whitish to pale pink.

Similar lookalikes, also showing lavender hues, include the deadly Cortinarius (which main difference is the cobweb veil, but it might be absent in adult speciments) and spores will be rusty brown, and Entolomas (also should be avoided), which usually have thinner stems and salmon spore prints. Important: spores are the best way to distinguish them!

Blewits do not contain a ring. That's another key difference. Importantly, inspect for the presence of a ring with rusty brown appearance, that's a warning sign of Cortinarius (deadly mushroom).

Also it's good to distinguish them from other Clitocybe species.

Identifying with full certainty the blewit is definitively not for beginners.

Cortinarius (deadly) is very similar, the base is more enlarged. One warning trait of Cortinarius is the rusty brown ring and edge of the cap (but be aware it might not be present!)

Disclaimer: this is only intended for educational purposes. Do not eat mushrooms based on the information found here. In general, do not eat mushrooms unless you are 100% sure about its ID.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Mushrooms - Chanterelles lookalikes

Chanterelles are often a sought after wild mushroom, growing under forests. They have three toxic lookalikes which are quite important to be aware of.

Chanterelles look alikes: 

These include:
1) Jack o'lanterns, poisonous but not deadly
2) the very similar False chanterelle (not deadly but slightly toxic)
3) and importantly, the Cortinarius, which is deadly (although cortinarius shape is very different than chanterelles (with a typical gilled mushroom shape), it can be somewhat strikingly similar in color and size to chanterelles, with a similar yellowish color, so it can be a big danger if both are growing together! And I have seen both together

Jack o lanterns

Chanterelles have forked false gills, whilst Jack o'lanterns have true gills. But be aware false chanterelles can have forked gills.
Chanterelles have a blunt curving edge while Jack'o lanterns have gills right up to the edge
Chanterelles grow individually. Jack o'lanterns have stems attached (and grow in groups, often at base of trees), whilst Chanterelles do not.
Chanterelles flesh can be pure white, whilst Jack o'lanterns will have an orangeish flesh.
Chanterelles never grow in dead wood (Jack o'lanterns grow in dead wood, but it could be buried., giving a false impression)
Chanterelles have ridges running down the stem
Chanterelles false gills are strong and sharp, whilst Jack o'lanterns true gills are quite fragile.

Jack o lanterns on the left. Chanterelles on the right. Notice the edge of the cap
Jack o lanterns grow in groups!
Chanterelles grow individually!

False Chanterelles
Chanterelles have a deep yellow color, while False chanterelles have no yellow, color is deep orange . But be aware that Jack o'lanterns can have a yellow hue (but usually are bright orange).
Chanterelles have almost pure white flesh (but not always, sometimes pale yellow too), whilst False chanterelles have pale yellow flesh or darker. This can be seen if you cut them all the way down along the stem. There is a very clear difference in color between them.
Chanterelles have blunt edges curved down, whilst False chanterelles do not. This is one of the best differences to spot, after the color.
Chanterelles have an apricot smell. False chanterelles do not. But be aware Jack o'lanterns can have a fruity taste too.
Spore print is not to distinguish them. Chanterelles spore print is white or light yellow. False chanterelle spore print is white or cream.
Chanterelles have a normal texture and fragile false gills, which fork near the edge of cap, whilst False chanterelles have a felt texture and also strong gills. But this is probably a difficult characteristic, if you are not familiar with them.
Young chanterelles start round and rather conical, and evolve to irregular shapes, whilst false chanterelles start a more perfect round and stay with a regular circular shape (as seen below)

False chanterelle. Notice the dull color, strong orange center spot, and also the felt-like texture
Notice the much more orange color of the False chanterelle, and also the edges which are not curved!
Cortinarius rubellus

As said above, do not confuse with Cortinarius species which are deadly. This is the greatest danger when identifying chanterelles. Cortinarius rubellus is the deadly webcap. Spores will be rusty red on this poisonous species, whilst chanterelles are white or pale yellow.

Cortinarius: it looks quite difference, but the slightly yellowish hue of some specimens and similar size to chanterelles, can pose a danger if picking chanterelles

Disclaimer: this is only intended for educational purposes. Do not eat mushrooms based on the information found here. In general, do not eat mushrooms unless you are 100% sure about its ID.

Saturday, 26 October 2019


This post is under construction....

First start by checking the base. 
- If the mushroom base is swollen, suspect an Amanita (lighter scales and ring), Lepiota (darker scales and ring), Volvariella (no ring), Cortinarius (brown rusty spores) and Fibrecap (fibrous cap).
- If stems go very deep into the ground, then suspect a Collybia (especially if cap has an incurved cap edge and absense of ring) or Xerula.

Second, check what happens when you break the cap. 
- If it milks and is brittle, it is a Lactarius. If it is just brittle, it is a Russula. If it is small and milks, it is a Mycena.
- If it liquefies easily, then it is an Inkcap/Parasola.
- If the color change, just take note of that trait.
- If it is sticky or slimy, you could suspect a few genus. Bright colorful waxy ones are Waxcaps. If stem is fleshy, it could be a Woodcap.

Third, take notice of the color. Bright yellow, pink, reds, purple, could point to specific genus, such as Deceiver/Laccaria, Waxcaps, Sulfur Tuft and others. If the cap is scaly, it could be a Pholiota-Scalycap (also with a ring).

Fourth take notice of gills and do a spore print; this might help you identify other genus that are not identified yet. The presence of a ring may point you to Agaricus, Lepista/Blewit, Stopharia, Agrocybe and Gymnopilus/Toughshank. Absence of ring to Entoloma and Pluteus, Woodtuft and Clitocybe.

In small mushrooms you also need to take notice of where they grow (forest litter or decaying wood): Galerina and Bolbitius (dark browns, growing in wood and transparent when wet), Conocybe, Psylocybe, Marasmius and Lepiota.

1) BASE 
Swollen base: Amanita or Lepiota (see difference of scales, Amanita has a volva), Chlorophyllum  (reddens when cut), Volvariella-Rosegill (has a volva, pink spores and gills when mature, lack a ring!), Cortinarius and Fibrecap (cobweb when young or fibre aspect with central umbo, both have slightly swollen base but not volva), Ampulloclitocybe (decurrent gills. club-shaped) 
Deep stem below: Xerula thin tall stem, no ring, dead stumps) and Collybia (incurved cap edge, strong convex cap then flattens, lack rings)
- White rhizomes: Megacollybia (incurved cap edge, strong convex cap then flattens, lack rings)

Non central stem: Lentinellus, Wrinkled peach. Oysterling and Pleutorus (Oyster)

2) CAP:


Liquefying: Inkcap (Parasola or Coprinellus)
Brittle: Russula, Lactarius
Milks: Lactarius (big), Mycena (small)
Color change when cut: Chlorophyllium (reddens), Lyophyllum (blue), Agaricus... ...

Y/Brown spores: Bolbitius (tiny), Woodtuft (greasy feel, XXX)
Pink spores: Gomphidus (whitish/pink, decurrent)
V.Dark spores: Leratiomyce-Roundhead (red and orange, ring), Inkcap, Gomphidius, Stopharia
White spores: Velvet Shank (tufted often), Xerula (thin tall stem, no ring, root extended, dead stumps), Waxcaps (slimy, bright colors, decurrent, fragile stem, no ring), Wood cap (fleshy stem), Oudemansiella,    Many others might be sticky or slimy when wet
Slimy: Waxcap (when wet, bright colors, decurrent, fragile stem, no ring), Wood cap (fleshy stem, greasy or slimy, decurrent gills)


SCALES: Amanitas (lighter, ring), Lepiota (darker, ring), Pholiota-Scalycap (ring, what's the difference?), Many others sometimes: agrocybe ??????????
Striate: Fibrecap (fibrous cap, central umbo), Galerina, Mycena, Parasola, NOT DONE YET
Central umbo: Melanoleuca, Fibrecap, Macrolepiota, ... Entoloma, Clitocybe (decurrent), Mycena, Cortinarius, Psilocybe, Waxcaps?, many others, ... ....

2.3) COLOR

Yellow color: Honey fungus (white to cream gills, tufted, bigger, decurrent, large ring, parasite of living trees, white spores), Sulfur Tuft (tufted, gills maturing yellow to brown, black spore, cobweb when young, dead wood), Gymnopilus-Toughshank (gold yellow gills and cap, ring sometimes, tufted sometimes, dead wood, orange brown spores prolific), Plums and Custard (Lilac and yellow!, yellow gills, white spore), Hygrocybe-Waxcap (bright yellow, slimy when wet, decurrent, fragile stem, no ring, white spore), Xeromphalina (small Mycena-like), Omphalottus (yellow orange-ish, larger), Yellow bolbitius  / / / Lemon Disco (cup), Jellybaby (head) 

Pink-Orange-Red-Lavender gills:
- Pinks: Volvariella-Rosegill (volva but lack a ring, pink spore), Plums and Custard (lilac and yellow, yellow gills, white spore), Agaricus (ring, maturing from pale pink to deep pink or chocolate brown, free gills, cap not colorful), Pluteus (free gillsno ringgrow on decaying wood), Entoloma-Pinkgills (gills attached to stem, grow on leaf litter, no cobweb), Gomphidus (whitish/pink, sticky, decurrent), many others like Collybia (incurved cap edge, strong convex cap then flattens, lack rings)
- Lavender: Lepista-Blewit (Pale lavender or cream hues, short stem, base not surrounded by sac, ring not brown!)
- All: Deceiver-Laccaria (Bright Purple, Red, Pink, spaced gills and non-decurrent, bit waxy but not slimy!), Hygrocybe-Waxcap (bright colors, pink, orange, red, no ring, slimy when wet, fragile stem, decurrent), Lactarius and Mycena (milks! gills, pink to orange sometimes),
- Orange and Red: Omphalottus (strong orange gills), Leratiomyces-Roundhead (red and orange, slimy and ring), Saffron lactarius (small to medium. nice round cap, bright orange gills, bruises green color), Chroogomphus (orange, strong decurrent), Chanterelles and look-alikes (shape) /// Eyelash and Orange peel (cup, red and orange)

Other color: jump to next trait


3.1) RING:     Many others might have it
White spore - Amanita or Lepiota (scales, swollen base), Oudemansiella (sticky), Cystoderma (powdery cap), Honey Fungus (yellow color, tufted)
V.Dark spore - Agaricus (free gills, gills maturing from pale pink to chocolate brown, cap not colored!), Lacrymaria-Weeping Widow, Stropharia-Roundhead (slimy)
Pink: Lepista-Blewit (base not surrounded by sac, ring not brown!, Pale lavender or cream hues, short stem)
Brown or yellow spore -Leratiomyces-Roundhead (slimy and red/orange), Pholiota-Scalycap (very scaly), Woodtuft (greasy feel), Gymnopilus-Toughshank (cap yellow, individual, orange brown spores prolific),  Galerina (small slender, striate, never white), Agrocybe (never darker brown) 
Rusty brown ring visible: Cortinarius

3.2) GILLS

Pink spores: Lepista/blewit, Clitopilus
Dark spores: strong decurrent: Gomphidus (whitish/pink, sticky), Chroogomphus (orange)
Y/brown spores: strong decurrent: Paxillus 
White spores: Waxcaps (slimy when wet, bright colors, fragile stem), Moss oysterling, Wood cap (greasy or slimy), Clitocybe, Ampulloclitocybe club-shaped, base swollen), Honey Fungus (yellow color, large ring, tufted)

NOTCH: Mycena, Plums and custard, Megacollybia (incurved cap edge, strong convex cap then flattens, lack rings), Melanoleuca, many others? NOT DONE YET

FREE GILLS: Rhodocollybia (incurved cap edge, strong convex then flattens with umbo, slimy cap often thick, thick stem, gills white to pink cream, lack ring), Agaricus (pink gills, ring, cap not colorful), Pluteus (free gills, no ring, grow on decaying wood), Velvet shank (tufted often), Waxaps (bright colors, no ring, slimy when wet, decurrent), Xerula (thin tall stem, no ring, root extended, dead stumps), :Lepiota and Amanitas (swollen base and scales) (Whats their differences)

Cobweb in young specimens: Cortinarius, OTHERS ... ....

Others: Conecaps (grow in cones), Collybia (incurved cap edge, strong convex cap then flattens, lack rings) and Asterophora (both grow in remains of other fungi)

Y/Brown spores (usually no ring)
1) grows on wood
    Very small, transparency to water, dark brown: Galerina (striate), Bolbitius (sticky),  Tubaria (also very small), Naucoria (Alders), 
     Larger than 5cm: Agrocybe, Gymnopilus, Paxillus, Pholiota
2) grows in leaf litter : Conocybe-Conecap (fragile stem), Fibrecap (fibrous cap, central umbo), Cortinarius (small to medium but enlarged base)

V.Dark spores  - GILLS ARE GREY
Parasola (striate, liquefying), Psylocybe, Agaricus (medium sized, pink gills)
Other larger mushrooms: Coprinus (cilindrical), Psathyrella (fragile), Stopharia (often larger and more colorful mushrooms), Panaelus

White spores: Marasmius (spaced gills, very tall), Mycena (milks, striate), Collybia (incurved cap edge, strong convex cap then flattens, lack rings), Lepiota (ring, swollen base, small to medium sized)

Pink spores: Mottlegill (all colors), Entoloma-pinkgill (usually medium-sized but also small, no cobweb, no ring, gills attached to stem) vs Pluteus (free gills)

Collybia-like, Gymnopus, Melanoleuca, Flammulina, Xerula (don't have a notch like Tricholoma) or colar (Marasmius)
Volvariella and Pluteus

Disclaimer: this is only intended for educational purposes. Do not eat mushrooms based on the information found here. In general, do not eat mushrooms unless you are 100% sure about its ID.

Mushrooms - Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) lookalikes

Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera):
- a very wide gilled mushroom, white gills
- grows in grassland in middle of the summer
- scaly cap and, importantly, a scaly stem (snake-like skin)
- a nipple like in the center top of the cap
- whitish mycelium at bottom of the stem
- a ring that unusually can go up and down the stem if you moved it.
- overall this mushroom is not recommended for beginners, due to deadly lookalikes

Lepiotoid mushrooms were once all groups in the Lepiota genus, but nowadays they are divided in several genus (Lepiota, Macrolepiota, Cystolepiota, Leucoagaricus, Leucocoprinus and Chlorophyllum). Almost all have white spores, ring and saprobiotic (growing in plant litter, rather than associated with tree roots). Identification of species level is very difficult even for experts.

In general, the lepiotoid mushrooms (of which the parasol mushroom is part of) are poisonous. Never eat small lepiota mushrooms.

Shaggy Mushroom (Macrolepiota or Chlorophyllum rhacodes), which can cause tummy trouble in some people, it is very similar to the parasol mushroom, but the stem is not scaly, and the size is smaller.

Chlorophyllum molybdites, false parasol or green spored parasol, it is similar, but again it is without the scally stem (and the gills and spores are pale green in adult specimens, but still white when young). It causes poisoning with severe gastrointestinal upset. It tends to have a much less scaly cap.

Amanitas can look very similar when young, and are deadly! So avoid picking parasols when young. Amanitas have lighter flakes on a darker surface, while Parasols have darker flakes on a ligher surface! Parasols have a central knob and regular scale patterns. Parasols also lack the volva from amanitas but they still have an enlarged base. Both have white spores.

Cystoderma amianthinum, saffron parasol. Also scaly stem, but the overall color is diferent. Much more of a dark yellow, instead of the black-brown snaky pattern from the parasol mushroom.

Lepiota castanea, deadly!, stem without scales and much smaller size (about 3cm wide).

Lepiota brunneoincarnata, deadly dapperling, also deadly, also growing in grass, again much smaller (about 4cm wide), despite the very similar appearance to the parasol mushroom! Stem has less scales. Confusion with the edible fairy ring champignon Marasmius oreades and with the very common Agaricus bisporus.

Disclaimer: this is only intended for educational purposes. Do not eat mushrooms based on the information found here. In general, do not eat mushrooms unless you are 100% sure about its ID.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

The wonders of Mushroom identification

I recently attended an amazing mushroom identification workshop, with a serious mushroom expert, and got excited about the possibility about learning more about mushroom identification.

So armed with a mushroom key, I have learning many things by studying and observing mushrooms in the wild.

Word of caution: I do not eat mushrooms in the wild, as I am a beginner (not an expert). Mushrooms can be considerably harder to identify than plants, and many times a edible mushroom has several deadly very similar lookalikes. So, please do not use this blog as a source of information to identify edible mushrooms. This is just intended for educational purposes.

Two major types of fungi:
1) Ascomycetes, this includes yeasts, molds, morels and truffles
2) Basidiomycetes, the stereotypical mushroom

The Basiodiomycetes have several orders. Some of the most important are:
  • Agaricales: Agarics, Stropharia, spotty Toughshank/Rhodocollybia, Mycena, Psylocybe, Lacaria/Deceiver, Cortinacea (such as Cortinarius and Galerina), Amanitas (includes death cap, destroying angel and blusher), Jack o Lantern, Pleurotus/Oyster, Inky Cap/Coprinopsis, Parasol/MacrolepiotaMarasmiaceae family which produces white spore prints (includes Shitake/Lentinula, RhodocollybiaOmphalotus/False chanterelles), Coral Fungus (most are Clavaria), Puffballs (Calvatia or Bovista), 
  • Russulales: Russulas, Lactarius/Milk caps, Ear Pick, Lion mane/Hericium
  • Polyporales
  • Cantharellales
  • Agaricomycotina: jelly fungi, such as 


    Auricularia/ Wood Ear (most are non poisonous)
  • Phallales (Stinkhorns/Phallus)
  • Pezizaceae (Cup fungi/Peziza)
  • Boletales: Boletus, Suillus

SPORE PRINT COLORS: Poisonous species are underlined

White to yellow: Amanita (only white)!!, Macroleptiota/Parasol, Pleurotus, edible Lepiotas, Panus, Lentinellus, honey mushrooms/Armillaria, Citocybe, Chanterelles, False Chantarelles (white or cream), Tricholoma species/Matsutake/Pine mushroom, and waxy caps/Hygrophoraceae 

Pink, Salmon or Red: Pluteus, Volvariella, Phyllotopsis, Lepista (light pink), Cortinarius!! (usually rusty brown), Hebeloma crustuliniforme (also brown)

Purple to Black: Psylocybe, Panaeolus, Coprinus, Stropharia (edible), Sulfur Tuft!!

Rust, Ocre, Brown: Edible Agaricus (brown), Cortinarius!! (also red), Galerina!! (brown or rusty brown), Pholiota, Conocybe, Hebeloma, Gymnopilus, Hebeloma crustuliniforme (also pink)

Variable (white, salmon cream to light brown): Russula
Variable (white, ocre, yellow or orange): Lactarius
Variable (yellow to olive-brown): Boletes (rarely red, and usually poisonous species)
Green: False parasol!

Many edible gilled mushrooms have brown spore prints. If it gives a red or rusty hue, be careful.
Galerina (deadly) can have a brown spore print (Hebeloma crustuliniforme too). Amanitas  (deadly) have white spore prints.


Buttom mushroom, Shitake, Pleurotus or Oyster, Morels, Lion Mane, Wood ear, Stropharia
Boletus, Parasol (macrolepiota), Coral fungus, Chanterelles, Chicken of the woods, Lobster mushroom

Other common mushrooms:

  • Honey Fungus (growing on wood, all yellow)
  • Mazegill and Polypores (bracket like growing on wood)

General guidelines for collectors, regarding edibility:
To avoid poisonous mushrooms (and missing also some few edible species), one should avoid:
- avoid all wild mushrooms with white gills (and with white spores) like Amanita
- avoid all with an enlarged base (Amanitas has an enlarged base)
- avoid any with red caps or stems
- avoid red spore prints
- avoid little brown mushrooms (many species, which can be confused, and Galerina species are deadly).
- cut flesh. Avoid blue, yellow and black staining mushrooms
- avoid parasol/umbrella-shaped mushrooms.
- avoid speckled caps (like Amanita)
- beginners should also avoid all gilled mushrooms (including lactarius, russula and lepiota)

  • Amanitas (see below, all have white gills and a bulbeous base), death cap (broadleaf forests), destroying angel (birch woods, pure white one), Panther cap (more beech and broadleafs)
  • Cortinarius rubellus/ Webcap (conifers woods especially in northern latitudes such as pine and spruce). Rusty red or brown spores. Gills yellow to brown. Cortina or veil but only in young specimens. Reddish color, but other poisonous species will be different color.
  • Galerina - Funeral bell (Galerina marginata), grows in wood. Also rusty brown spores. Can be confused with Armillaria (with a white spore print), Pholiota (spore print dark brown)
  • Pleurocybella porrigens, grows in the Scottish highlands, confers and decaying stumps
  • Conocybe - Fool's Conecap (Conocybe filaris)
  • Clitocybe - Fool's Funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa) and Ivory Funnel (Clitocybe blanchi)
  • Satan's Bolete (Boletus satanas). Has red stem color. For this reason avoid all red colored boletes.
  • False Morels (Helvella and Gyromitra spp.) 
  • Green-spored Lepiota (Chlorophyllum molybdites)
  • Russula emetica. Has red color cap. Very common where I live, in pine woods
  • Agaricus xanthodermus (Yellow-Stainer). Stem is yellow once cut.
  • Hypholoma fasciculare (Sulphur Tuft). widespread. yellow, in groups. Common.
  • Hebeloma crustuliniforme (Poison Pie)
The worst of these (the deadly ones) are the Deathcap (Amanita phalloides), Destroying Angel (A. virosa), Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata), Fool's Funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa), and the whole genera of Cortinarius (webcaps), Inocybe (fibrecaps) and Lepiota (dapperlings).


Chanterelles see main article here

Porcini/Bolete (Boletus edulis) lookalikes
King bolete is the prized type species. It has a brownish cap surface, white flesh (the underside starts white and matures to yellowish and brownish with age) and it does not change color after being cut (or changes to a very light brown or pale red). Any color change to blue is a danger warning! Always test that. Also avoid any bolete that shows bright pink or bright red parts.
- Devil's bolete is poisonuous but has a red stem and stains blue. Very different traits!
- Bitter bolete, has pores that become pink-colored, and has a stem that shows a dark brown network of lines (not a network of pale pink like the King Bolete).This gives a stomach upset.
-Boletus huronensis is a rare but very similar species and it is poisonous (but reportedly not deadly). It stains blue when cut, albeit slowly. The underside remains yellow over time. Flesh is pale yellow instead of white! And the stalk lacks the net veining network pattern that is common in the King bolete.
- Boletes rubinus. An extremely rare (but present in Europe) and deadly bolete, with pink underside!
- Gyroporus castaneus is slightly similar but the stem is much more of a brown color.
- Lilac Brown bolete. It is very different (of dark brown and lilac hues) but it is poisonous.
If spore print is red, do not eat

Kuehneromyces mutabilis
Growing in tufs in tree stumps. Can be extremely similar to the potencially deadly Galerina marginata.

Edible pale oyster mushroom (Pleurotus pulmonarius). Do not confuse with Angel's Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens)

Amethyst deceiver (edible) can be confused with lilac fibrecap, which is deadly.

Button mushroom lookalikes

Psylocybe lookalikes: Galerina spore print is brown or rusty brown, whilst psylocybe is a dark purple-brown

Amanitas identification (POISONOUS)
About 24 Amanita species occur in the UK and 5 are deadly, so identification is important.
Death cap, Destroying angel, Spring Amanita, Gemmed Amanita, Panther Cap

Destroying angel
  • All have white gills and white spores
  • Bulged base/volva, egg-like. But this can resemble also puffballs and stinkhorns eggs and young agarics
  • Remains of the veil are visible at the cap (might be absent sometimes)
  • Spotty or speckles in the cap are also hallmark (some have not)
  • Russulas can be distinguished by absence of bulged base and Russulas cannot have a ring in the stem
  • Parasols can be distinguished by having darker speckles on a lighter cap, whilst amanitas have ligher speckles (if any is present). Both have a bulbous base.

Cut it, to ensure there is not the egg of a developing young Amanita mushroom

Gills are always white in the Amanita, so if not, then mushroom could be safe

Russulas; the Gemmed Amanita can look like the common yellow Russula if all of the speckles have been washed off the top. Check the shape and texture of the stem. The Russula stem will be straight and white like a stick of chalk and have no skirt. The Amanita stem will be bulbous at the base, and probably have a skirt.

Lepiota: usually have a parasol-like shape and have scales on the cap, and a ring on the stem.

Parasols; there are a number of superficial similarities between the Parasol and the Amanita family. Check the cap of your Parasol to make sure it is actually scaly rather than having scales you can brush off and check the skirt on the stem, it can be moved up and down on Parasols.

Cortinarius (POISONOUS)
Identification of species is very difficult.
All species have the cortina veil when young (risk of missing this), and all spores are rusty brown. A ring effect (from the veil) around stem.

Galerina (POISONOUS)

Small white, cream or brown mushrooms that are similar, but most are potentially deadly:

  • Mycena: XXX. White spores.
  • Marasmius
  • Tubaria: rather flat. Brownish or pale spores.
  • Naucoria
  • Galerina: Slender stem and Striate capConical, small. Can have ring. Brownish spores. Most are very toxic.
  • Conocybe: Slender stem and Striate cap. Sharply convex cone, very small. Brownish spores.
  • Bolbitius. Slender stem and Sticky cap. Free gills. Brown spores.

  • Fibrecaps (Inocybe). Cap streaky or fibrillose. XXXX. Some reddening on cutting. Brownish spores. Most are very toxic. 
  • Webcaps (Cortinarius): convex but fleshy, also flat and also with top peak, cobweb-like cortina covering young specimens, and sometimes the leftovers of it forming a rusty ring around the stem. Brownish spores. Most are very toxic or deadly.

Good edible mushrooms are also those that do not have deadly lookalikes. These include: Shaggy Inkcaps, Giant puffballs, Beefsteak Fungus, Hedgehog Fungus, Cauliflower Fungus, Penny Buns, Bay Boletes and Brown Birch Boletes.

Disclaimer: this is only intended for educational purposes. Do not eat mushrooms based on the information found here. In general, do not eat mushrooms unless you are 100% sure about its ID.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Organic fertilizers for potassium and phosphorus

Ranked by richness

Organic sources for nitrogen
Cut grass
Nitrogen fixing crops

Organic sources for phosphorus
Bird Guano
Fish meal, crab shrimps, shells
Bone meal (or Egg shells)
Granite or phosphorus rock dust
Compost toilet sewage
Worm castings
Mushroom compost
Horse manure
Leaf mold (oak)

Organic sources for potassium
Sawdust and wood
Cow manure
Rock dust
Fruit skins

Organic sources for calcium and other micronutrients
Egg shells
Coming in soon

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Biological methods of PEST CONTROL

I have spent years practicing organic gardening and I know how important is companion planting to prevent pests. I have faced common pests like cabbage worms and cabbage white butterflies are prevented by planting thyme, garlic and tagete around. Or slugs, which are disencouraged by garlic and mints too, but most effectively by reducing mulching and their access to sensitive plants.

Spider mites, mildew and aphids are common glasshouse pests, as ventillation is the best prevention against them. I notice that neem may prevent spider mites. But overall, moving plants outdoors is the best solution. The same goes for mildew.

Yarrow, lemon balm, garlic, artemisias are excellent species to include in your garden.

Recently I found onion scarlet lily beetles, potato beetles and squash bugs. They are prevented by planting respectively carrot-family species, ground ivy, and tansy.

Slugs: protect plants with plastic bottle rings or even half-cut plastic bottles, surrounded by sand, ash and/or coffee, removing any mulch, and then surrounding the area with a second plastic slug barrier. You still need to cut grass around to keep slugs under control. Inverted plastic bottles work well with lettuce and with seedlings of pumpkins and zucchini. Mints, garlics and carnation repels them, to some degree. Perhaps fennel. Some suggest spraying with chili. Go slug hunting in early morning or in rainy weather. Use ducks until all slugs are gone (before they start eating your garden). Using chicken tunnels (fenced) around your garden, and they will clean all slugs that could move towards your gardens. I haven´t tried sawdust which is also suggested. Planting in greenhouses is also a good solution. Finally you might avoid sensitive crops like lettuce and carrots, and instead plant more resistant crops like kale or spinach. Plant the sensitive crops in well-sheltered beds.

Slug fences work! But remember to trim grass around them!

Inside the fence, protect plants by using plastic bottles or plastic rings. Be creative! But remember to remove these, when hot weather is forecast.

Cabbage pests: spray compost tea. Plant in polyculture! Plant: garlic-family plants, thyme, sage?, nasturtium?, artemisia and tansy repels them; mustard, radish, tagetes, borage, eucalyptus, sage, mints and dill also potencially good. Carrot family plants attract predatory wasps and zinnias attract ladybugs. Hyssop is a trap crop.

Potato beetles: vetches, ground ivy and tansy repels them. also coriander, flax. Plant early, in raised beds, to allow good growth before plants are defoliated by them, to reduce crop losses. Remove them by hand.

Squash bugs: nasturtium, tagete, and tansy repels, catnip and dill also, radish might work.

Mice and moles: artemisia, garlics, euphorbia, rue, fritilary, bury an inverted bottle (wind noise scares them). Cats are also effective.

Onion scarlet lily beetles: carrot-family plants attract predatory pests as well as catnip or mints, also goldenrod and milkweed, nasturtium (repels them). Remove them by hand. Plant onions in raised beds and well separated from each other, possibly in polyculture.

Scarlet lily beetles attack onions

Corn earworm larvae/moth: geranium, thyme, cosmos. Store corn grain in glass jars, and preferably in duplicate, to avoid losing seed.

Ants: coffee, mints and pennyroyal, lemon skins, sugar mixed with borax (not so ethical and healthy)

Codling moths (fruit trees like apples and pears): nasturtium, chives, lavender (but not so effective). More effective: in winter, clear all fallen fruit. In early spring (15°C), setup moth traps and solar lamps with oil, to capture them (this is just to indicate you that they are there, it does not remove the problem). In late spring, when petals fall, spray fruit with organic bacillus thuringiensis, garlic spray or other organic products, before larvae enters the fruit. Repeat every week for a month, until no more moths are trapped. Alternatively, use nematodes against the catterpillars. Place grease bands around the trunk to prevent creeping catterpillars. Keeping chicken under the trees during winter also works quite good.

Citrus worms: use neem oil


Aphids: Very frequent indoors. Keep plants healthy and not water-stressed or too much nitrogen. Use good ventillation, washing them (rain or a jet of water or with soapy water). Plant mints, garlic, nasturtiums

Spider mites: devastating pest indoors. Use mostly good ventillation; good watering and rain (Expose plant outdoors if possible). Keep plants healthy and not water-stressed. Plant perhaps neem and coriander/dill. Ensure plants are under bright light, and not water-stressed. If necessary, keep plants in isolation and wash them frequently, immersing them in soapy water.

Mildew: ensure good ventillation, expose plant outdoors if possible.

Gnats (small mosquitos): an indoor pest. Avoid organic matter. Cover with a layer of sand over the soil. Keep soil dry. Use vinegar to attract and drown them. Use oil on surfaces or sticky surfaces. Expose plants outdoors or repot plants in sterile new soil.

Root rot: use fine organic matter, use peat, use sterile soil, avoid irregular watering or too moist, do not add too much sand or clay to the soil mix. Keep plants healthy and under good light.


Deer: Use fencing, both high and with vegetation. Setup obstacles. Protect young trees. Plant sensitive crops further away from the edges of property. Floating row cover. Spread hair around crops (this might work against other pests too). Some suggest hanging scented soap bars. Another method might involve placing rottening eggs or spraying eggs diluted in water over your crops. If necessary, setup electric fences.

Wild boar: Dogs can provide some prevention. Wild boar is probably more of a problem in early spring when wild food is scarse. It can also be a problem with you have, for instance, a monoculture of corn. Setup fences. Setup obstacles like sticks or branches around sensitive crops like root vegetables.

Birds: Floating row cover. Cats are effective control. Protect young seedlings with inverted bottles. Place baloons, cds, scarecrows around the garden (though this might not be as effective as you think). Buy birdbusters (make artificial noise). Nevertheless, in my experience I haven´t had much damaged from birds, as I see them as beneficial against other smaller pests such as slugs.

Rabbits: Setup fences (60cm high). Remove habitat where they could hide and cover from predators like shrubs. Cats and dogs scare them. Garlic, garlic clips or fish emulsion. Plant alfalfa and clover just for them. Floating row cover.

I decided to include a few other gardening problems.

Forest fires: plant rows of cypress or poplars, at angle, to stir the fire away from your property. Plant ice plant barriers. Clean vegetation in the edges, or setup water lines.

Drought: add a pond. Thick mulching! Beds filled with organic matter or even hugelkultur! Sunken beds. Dense planting. Plant under a tree. Shrub edges to create shade. In desert areas, create an oasis, by creating depressions, swales, and planting desert species like date palms, olives, carobs, mesquites, honey locust and acacias.

Frost: Thick mulching, by adding thick insulating layers of leaves, grass, straw and peatmoss. This way, one can insulate down to -15°C. Use plastic wrapfoam during minor freezes (with straw inside). This can even protect small trees. Use fleece covers during minor frosts.

Cool summers: Plant against a south-oriented wall. Raised beds sloped towards south. Sandy soil, with plenty fluffy organic matter (like straw), to warm rapidly. Add some fresh compost to generate warmth. Setup windbreaks! Use well-adapted varieties from cold countries in the Arctic. Start seedlings indoors. The easiest solution is of course to grow under a polytunnel.

Tomato fruit drop-off. Add calcium to the ground. Avoid irregular watering, too wet or too dry. Add compost tea. Reduce dew moisture in morning, by growing them under a polytunnel, in raised beds or in containers. Use locally adapted varieties.

Plant around: phacelia, lemon balm, tagete, calendula, broad beans, yarrow, chamomile, valerian, dandelion, nettle, horsetail, mugworts and wormwood, aster-family flowers, clovers and lupins.

Also see my previous post in 2011:

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Guide to how to live moneyless! (in the spirit of Gift Economy and Self-sufficiency)

Inspired in the "Moneyless" book of Mark Boyle, which I really recommend!

Moneyless guide Gift Economy / Living sustainable / Self-sufficiency

- you can grow even in small places like windowsills (for those in cities; see my posts from 2009)
- renting or borrowing land (for instance a friend or relative) / landshare
- using urban wastelands
- join an existing ecovillage (see, and eurotopia book)
- occupying ghost towns (especially if you have a good of friends)
- buy land (which is not a moneyless option)

- home sitting / boat sitting
- house exchange
- living in house of friends (or borrowed for free)
- squatting
- caves
- abandoned blackhouses, farmhouses and ruins
- living in a caravan
- yurts and tipis (or even wild camping)
- natural constructed homes (earthships, strawbale, earthbags, roundhouses, subterranean, benders)

3-  FOOD
- grow your own (the easiest option for most; very easy to grow potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, corn, kale, onions, turnips, mustard greens, tomatoes, bush beans and amaranth)
- wild food and forage (see
- catch roadkill
- guerrila gardening (especially in cities)
- skipping and dumpster diving (especially in cities)
- community orchards and gardens
    - seed saving and swap (
    - swapping produce with friends
    - food forests, perennial vegetables (low maintainance) like berries, wild greens or fruit trees
    - leafcurf (from nettles, ramps, linden, alexanders, groudn elder and charlock)
    - growing eggs, honey and mushrooms
    - permaculture design (,
    - start your own compost, fertilizing with liquid comfrey or nettles
    - sheet mulching using dead tree leaves instead of digging, dense growing instead of weeding
    - cooking from scratch / become a vegetarian
    - use simple ingredients / buy in bulk (rice, cereals, vegetables, pulses are very cheap) 

- rainwater harvest
- well, boreholes and rivers
- solar shower
     - soapwort as natural cleanser (or mock orange or new jersey tea)
     - hyssop as natural deodorant
     - nurture skin with aloe vera
     - clean hair and skin: herbs soaked overnight (sage, yarrow, mint, rosemary)
     - hair cleaner: rye flour and boiled nettles (or rice flour or boiled linseeds)
     - soap: make lye out of rainwater and hardwood ashes, and add fats
     - toothpaste made of fennel seeds, cuddlefish bone, salt or baking soda
     - toothbrush made out of marshmallow roots, liquorice, neem or eucalyptus
     - mouthwash: boiled mint, anise, thyme, rosemary or lavender
     - cleaning your bum: water rising, newspaper, leaves, or even rocks
     - cut your own hair (or ask a friend)
     - cleaning the house: vinegar (make your own apple cider), baking soda, boiled herbs or salt
     - cleaning the dishes: wood ashes /  scrubber: luffa, a ball of dried grass or pine cones
     - wash your clothes: nearby sink or even river; use sun to dry, a mangle or wear them wet!
     - compost WCs (very easy to build) (see also my post in building your own greywater system)

- barefoot or moneyless shoes (made of recycled tires, plastic bags and carpet)
- hitchhiking (
- liftsharing
- biking
- and trusting fate (people offering you accomodation)
- wild camping or bushcrafting (see "outdoor survival handbook" by Raw Mear)

- project
- solar charger
       - rapeseed oil candles or beeswax (storytelling, singing, games)
       - start a campire (keyhole fire)
       - rocket stove (elbowed flue pipe, 15kg olive cans, insulating material)
       - hay box (slow cooking)
       - earth ovens (for baking) (see "build your own earth oven" by Kiko Denzer)
    HEATING - putting extra jumpers or clothes
       - gas bottle wood burner
       - mansory oven (more complex)
       - solar heater

- homeschooling
- alternative schools (barefoot college, steiner schools, montessori, small school, , sudbury, summerhill) (see "alternative approaches to education, a guide for parents" by Fiona Carme)
- freeskilling groups
- get a used mobile phone from friends/ get a computer through freecycle, trash or through friends
- use linux, skype, openoffice, hushmail, duckduckgo, truecrypt

      - Localised healthcare (herbalism)
      - Menstruation (mooncup, reusable pads)
      - Natural contraception (withdrawal method, combined with understanding of a woman cycle)
      - cloth swapping (see, get from friends, go to a second hand shop
      - make your own, mend, knit your own clothes
      - freeshopping
      - make clothes out of hemp or nettles (but this requires skills)
      - pillows, out of reedmaces / duvets, out of wool
      - make and play an instrument (for example make out of wood logs and roadkill skin)
      - painting (made out of marigolds, blackberries, poppies, clays, charcoal, chalk, rocks) / mushroom paper
      - street parties, games, performances, debate evenings, local groups, sports, movies...

- breastfeeding instead of bottles
- no baby food, at six months combine breastfeeding with some cooked food
- get baby clothes from previous parents, friends or relatives
- co-sleeping with the baby (no extra bed)
- diapers (second hand, rewashable) / diaper-free (by understanding the clues of the baby)
- consider skipping non-essential healthcare and vaccinations (inform yourself, at your own risk)

(but then you will be part of the system and not truly moneyless)
- unemployment benefits
- woofing, volunteering
- organizing workshops, teaching yoga
- making and selling handcrafts in local markets
- giving massages
- selling in ebay
- writting a blog and adding adsense
- writting and selling ebooks
- local garden work
- seasonal jobs (like fruit harvest)

Get rid of your debts! Potencially get rid of your TV or car!

- Mark Boyle
- Daniel Suelo
- Peace pilgrim
- Heidemarie Schwermer
- Elf Pavlik
- Tomi Astikainen
- Jurgen Wagner
.... (links to be added)

- Freeconomy groups, Freegle (, (second hand stuff and toolsharing)
- GIFT CIRCLES and GIFT ECONOMY (information in soon)
- HelpX, Woofing, Volunteering
- LETS and Timebanks
- and
- Street freecycling (there are a lot of stuff that people put out in the streets for free to take)
- Book Swap ( and, booksharing clubs, Bookcrossing
- Papers and pens: inkcap mushrooms; molted wing feather; birch polypores or polyporus squamosus along with a mesh to make the paper / making recycling paper
- (more links to be added in soon)

Monday, 26 September 2016

Millets, a list of different varieties

Foxtail millet (Setaria italica)
Japanese Foxtail millet 02.jpgThis is a millet, very easy to grow, very tolerant of drought and very fast growing (can be grown in 2.5 to 3 months). It tolerates slightly cooler conditions than other millets. Native to east Asia, widely cultivated as fodder and hay; domesticated since old times. Consumed as food only in poor regions of China and India.

Seed is tiny, and with orange hull, difficult to remove! Conflictive reports, apparently some varieties are easy to remove papery husk but it´s not the case with the variety I cultivated.

Quite productive. I harvested 400g/m2 in Austria.
Very beautiful when ripe. Bright-brown seed heads, quite heavy when ripe. Susceptive to molds.
Less than 1 meter high. Can be grown quite densely. High biomass. Can be grown in containers.

Japanese millet or Banyard millet (Echinochloa esculenta)
Japanese barnyard millet.jpgThis is a millet, very easy to grow and very fast (grown in 2.5 to 3.5 months). Grown in the far East as fooder and also as food, now less popular as rice took over its place.

Seeds are also tiny. Light brown hull is very difficult to remove!

Not as productive as foxtail millet, but it will produce lateral seed heads.
Dries very easily after harvesting.
Taller than 1 meter. Can be grown also densely. Can be grown in containers.

Proso millet (Panicum milliaceum)
Panicum miliaceum0.jpgThis millet thrives with warmer conditions than the two former millets, and a slightly longer growing season (about 3-4 months). This is the most widely grown millet in the US, usually just as birdseed but also as common millet. Best protein profile than wheat but poor in lysine. Highly alkaline. Irritant leaves make not the best fodder.

Best flavour but hull is slightly difficult to remove.
Seeds are large, inverted heads with many gold yellow seeds. Quite beautiful.

Moderately productive.
About 1 meter tall. Requires more space in the soil.

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum)

Grain millet, early grain fill, Tifton, 7-3-02.jpgThis millet requires warmer conditions and a bit longer growing season (about 4 months). This is the most widely grown millet in the world, more than 50%. Native to Mali, then spread eastwards to India. A staple in Nigeria and Namibia. Stands harsh soil conditions, including salinity and drought.

Easiest hull to remove! :)
Seeds are large, with a whitish grey color.

Not as productive. Enjoys more watering. Goes dormant in drought.
Taller than 1 meter high. Requires more space in the soil. Sensitive to wind.

Finger millet or Ragi (Eleusine coracana)
Finger millet 3 11-21-02.jpg
Also relatively easy to grow, slower growing (about 4 months).
Adaptable to high altitudes. Native to east Africa and spread to India, where is quite popular and consumed as food. Grows also in the Himalayans.

No information in hull

No information in how productive it is.
Can be smaller than 1 meter. Smal sized plants, quite peculiar the shape of its seed heads.

Kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum)
Image result for kodo milletPrimarily grown in India. Quite drought tolerant but not widely grown. Or only as famine food.

Seeds are very small!
And hulls are very difficult to remove!!

Smaller than 1 meter high.


Teff (Eragrostis tef)
Extremely tiny seeds, easy to remove husk but due to small sized grains the process is somewhat labour intensive. Harvested within 3-4 months. Very small sized plants, like grass. Plants are very dry tolerant, but require warmth. Native to Ethiopia. Sold sometimes as an expensive new healthy flour.

Sorghum (sorghum bicolor)
A common crop, often used as hay, fodder crop or to produce syrup. Rarely consumed as food. Similar to corn in requirements but more tolerant of dry and poor conditions. Needs warmth and a long growing season.

Fonio millet or Acha (Digitaria exilis and Digitaria iburua)
Native to west Africa and as a famine food. Very small seeds and very difficult to remove husk. Available in two species, white fonio and black fonio (the last is less common). Digitalis compacta, known as Raishan is cultivated in Indochina.


Polish millet or crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis)
A common European weed, rarely cultivated as grain, but harvested by hand.

Job´s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi)
Cultivated usually only as ornamental.

Browntop millet or signalgrass (Brachiaria spp. or Urochloa spp)
A common forage grass, usually in the tropics or subtropics. Brachiaria deflexa is known as Guinea millet.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Giant pumpkins! The beasts of our garden!

It´s early August and the garden is thriving.

It has been a very rainy summer, and recently with more cool and even chilly weather.

Nevertheless the giant pumpkins, which have been growing since August, are now of a massive size.
They measure about 1 meter wide and I wonder how heavy they are.

We will have to make a large community pumpkin soup event!

For buying seed, go to

This is just one of our giant pumpkins!

The SECRET for getting giant pumpkins is liquid comfrey and plenty of rainfall. But of course the seed counts, the right variety (I sell some of this seed if you are interested)

Now I cut the leaves to stop the pumpkin of growing more and force it to ripe. I don´t want so large fruits!

We have 3 giant pumpkins, coming from two plants.

Overview of our small food forest, with (from left to right) kiwi, beans, corn, amaranth, millets and sunchokes in the background

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Bountiful gardens in north Austria!

It has been a very thunderstormy summer, with heat mixed with plenty of rain and at times large hail and windgusts. 

We continue our harvest of salads, spinach, kales, turnip greens, radish, and peas, that started in May. Since the beginning of July, we harvest some carrots, swiss chard, and plenty of zucchini and cucumbers. Recently, we began harvesting the first tomatoes, broad beans and bush beans, and ocasionally raspberries. We also harvested our first potatoes and barley. 

In soon we will be harvesting our first pumpkins! In the garden we also have green peppers, runner beans, corn, millets and amaranths, leeks, beets, a few broccoli, sunchokes, chinese artichokes, ocas, mashua, chufas, groundnuts, sweet potatoes and peanuts.

So what has grown fantastically this year and what were the failures? This summer has been prolific for all cucurbits due to the combination of frequent rain and warmth. Other plants grow fast but are also frequently eaten by slugs. Potatoes suffered due to excessive moisture and the Colorado beetle. We had our crop failure with onions, also due to excessive rainfall and the scarlet lily beetle. 

Every week we harvest peas, carrots, plenty of zucchini, cucumbers, and flower for salads. All organic and for free.

We will have a giant pumpkin soup festival in the autumn! Fingers crossed! 
Here is a preview of the largest garden. Watch the height of those jerusalem artichokes on the left edge!

Br growing such massive fast-growing plants locally, we produce our own compost and organic matter. Therefore not depending in external inputs of fertility. Think sustainable!

This week harvest. We can make several meals from this!

And this is one of our two gardens (the small one), which was severely damaged by a large hailstorm last weekend!

The hail stones were insane, as large as eggs! Damage here was large (not just gardens but cars, trees and houses), but thankfully our largest gardens, a few kms away, were left untouched.

Diversity is key.

Lemon cucumber. Looks like a lemon, Tastes like a cucumber!

If you are interested in seeds of any of things we grow, please feel free to buy them from me at

And here the gardener is harvesting some barley. Yes, we also grow our own cereal.

This is local economy. Our own locally grown resources, out of thin air, bedrock and soil, sunshine and water. 

Fully Sustainable as there are no external inputs other than my own work, my own seeds, rain and sunshine.

And the surrounding countryside and moutains...