Read of the Week

Field Guide to Mushrooms & Other Fungi of South Africa

Gary B Goldman & Marieka Gryzenhout

Struik Nature

Review: Karen Watkins

Where do all the wild mushrooms go? Is it a myth that foraging must be done at full moon? Or new moon? Which mushrooms taste delicious and which ones could kill you?

Foraging just got a lot easier thanks to mycologists Goldman and Gryzenhout as they lay bare their secrets.

They estimate there are 3.8 million species worldwide and yet few have been documented.

The variety is fantastic, from turquoise elf cups to bright reddish-orange tropical cinnabar brackets.

And they have whimsical names: Molly-eye winker, witch’s butter and pepper pot earthstar, to name a few.

Other names are determined by the shape of the fungus: salmon coral, stag’s horn, dead man’s fingers and cramp ball.

Some have a distinctive odour, such as the stinkhorn Phallus roseus, which
emits a strong fetid whiff that attracts flies and other insects to assist with spore dispersal.

The book’s layout is simple and detailed with scientific name, common, Afrikaans, plus etymology and synonyms. The images are crisp and allow the reader to make the correct identification, to note poisonous or not with confidence.

At the back of the book are a few of the author’s favourite recipes with suggestions of which mushrooms to use.

One of the most tasty is the Périgord black truffle, famous for its distinctive, piquant flavour and the most expensive of all mushrooms. Originally native to southern Europe, it is now cultivated in Ceres and Franschhoek.

More readily available are pine rings, smooth parasol, blusher and several of the boletes – the delectable porcini, oak bolete, poplar bolete, queen bolete (or dark cep) or bay bolete, usually found under oak, poplar or pine trees.

From missions at dawn to leisurely hikes during the day, foraging can be an entertaining adventure for the whole family.

This guide is small and concise enough to put in your backpack or cubby hole and is an ideal companion for foraging excursions.

We have a copy of Field Guide to Mushrooms & Other Fungi of South Africa to give away.

Email with “Book competition” in the subject line before midnight on Sunday November 10 to stand a chance to win the book.