Snow patrol – Wood Blewit

The last week or two has produced some amazing seasonal snow. The media has confirmed this is the earliest heavy snowfall since the dawn of time or some other scare-mongering weird world event! It’s Winter, it’s snow, it happens (no chips on my shoulder)! But fortunately being in the centre of the country we don’t really get the worst of it.

Wood BlewitAnyway, after some of the heavier snow had subsided and made the roads a little safer, I ventured out to Martinshaw Woods near Ratby in Leicestershire. I’ve heard from other people and from my own experience that Wood Blewits (Clitocybe nuda / Lepista nuda) are quite common there, and being persistent even during heavy frost I thought I’d take my chances.

I was pushing my luck in the snow but I did find some mushrooms clinging on to life in the clearer areas of the woods. Eventually I found this solitary Wood Blewit, nearly missing it with its white snowy hat against a white snowy background disguise!

This mushroom is quite unmistakable in appearance although there are a some Webcaps sharing similar features. Look out for web-like fibres on the stem that were initially connected to the cap edge when young. If unsure, take a spore print. The Webcaps have a dark rusty brown spore print as opposed to the pale pink of the Blewits. In fact, I had an issue with this spore print business. Although pale, the print really looked more very light brown than pink. Take a look from last years post on Wood Blewits.

The Wood Blewit is commonly called Blue Hat or Blue Cap, but some people still call it a Blue-leg (the Field Blewit)! Well, that’s understandable I guess. The Wood Blewit, when younger, has a more blue-violet tint about it’s cap (Blue-Hat), but this fades over time to a paler brown colour. The gills share this trait – they remain lilac-blue for a while until fading to buff. The fibrous stem retains it’s unmistakable blue-violet streaks, hence people choosing to call it a Blue-leg.

So Field Blewits and Wood Blewits are very similar indeed and to get them mixed up, apart from their environment they’re in, is understandable. The Field Blewits cap is always pallid to dirty brown. It’s actually tastier than our Wood dwelling friend but unfortunately less frequent. It can be found in pasture land, and most recently for me, in someones grassy garden!

One thing to remember with Blewits is that some people can have an allergic reaction to them. People recommend Par boiling them first or generally cooking them ‘thoroughly’, as I do. Fortunately I’m OK with them. They are nice to eat and they do need a longer cooking time I think because they are a little tough. I like the texture to be half way between solid and soft! But because of their texture they’re good for pickling. I haven’t tried that yet but I’ll let you know when I do.

Wood Blewit mushroom in Winter

Wood Blewit alone in the snow

Wood Blewit

13 replies
  1. Matthew Anderson
    Matthew Anderson says:

    I found loads of these in my back woods last year but was very hesitant in eating them due to the reports i’ve read. The last thing I want is an upset tummy! I’m very wary about eating mushrooms unless they are widely regarding as excellent eating.

    Reply
  2. J C Harris
    J C Harris says:

    Hi Matthew. After successfully identifying the Wood Blewit, it’s best to try just a small biteful first (after being cooked well) and see how you get on. You could be missing out.

    Reply
  3. Paul Robinson
    Paul Robinson says:

    I found some of these on the cliffs in Wales, environment seemed a bit odd as it was fields where cows were, not many trees about, and there were horse mushrooms growing nearby, but from what the research I have done they look more like wood blewits than field blewits. I had the same worries as you about the spore print as it looked more light brown than pink to me, but having read your posts on the subject I am now pretty confident that I have blewits rather than web caps! Also about a month ago I met a local up there while I was picking some horse mushrooms, and he had said that there were blewits, horse mushrooms and some field mushrooms to be found there. I picked these when it was very wet and I notice the caps are turning paler in colour as they do from a dark brown towards a kind of buff colour and the gills less violet… is this what you would expect? lots of questions I know, but better to ask when dealing with wild funghi! Thanks

    Reply
  4. J C Harris
    J C Harris says:

    Hi Paul

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with Blewits. The Field and Wood Blewit are very similar indeed. Wood Blewits can be found in grassy situations such as near hedgerows and gardens.

    A good tip for differentiating between the two is in the identification of the gills. The Field Blewit has ‘off white to flesh coloured’ gills with no hint of violet at any stage. It can usually have a stronger blue/violet stem, hence the English name ‘Blue Leg’. Either way both of these Blewits are delicious, and it was good of you to point out the ‘spore print’ issue. Light brown and pale pink seem close. You only have to worry if it is a dark rust brown colour.

    Reply
  5. f troop
    f troop says:

    wood blewits or blueys[uk] are particularly nice when fried in with your bacon…they are also sold in many market town stalls and fetch decent money ..has much as £9 a pound…great tasty food…another varity is the field bluey which is found in farmers fields usually ..they are much bigger and have a blue tinge running through the stalk with a off whitish top…obviously if not sure of what you picking then leave well alone …but they to are awesome eating if you got the taste for them.

    Reply
  6. jeanette
    jeanette says:

    hi all,
    i am very new to the world of fungi,but believe of late that i may have come across some Blewits not 10ft from my house,they are so beautiful it seems a shame to eat them,but i love mushrooms. My Blewitts are very violet top to bottom,gills are violet, still awaiting spore print, but very excited. Also near to where i live in bedfordshire i have some woods that i think grow parasol mushrooms. Great big ones in huge rings throughout the woodland. Is there anyone with more knowledge local that would like to take a look (when they have another show?)
    many thanks
    jeanette

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi James
      I agree, the spore colour isn’t a ‘convincing’ pink. More of a very light creamy brown with a slight hue towards pink. You should only worry about mistaking Wood Blewits with some similar looking (but rarer) Webcaps – However, their spore print is ‘distinctly’ dark rust brown. What you have in the picture is a Wood Blewit spore print.

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] You should especially look out for the lovely and edible Oyster Mushrooms, Velvet Shanks and Wood Blewits. But there are many still out there with a mention, even if they are not destined for the cooking […]

  2. […] spores and moveable gills, features the same as the other common Lepistas (or Blewits) such as the Wood Blewit and Field […]

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  4. […] notes, see my other two posts here: ‘Blue Legs for Winter – The Wood Blewit’ and ‘Snow patrol – Wood Blewit’. Late in the season – Wood Blewits found in April and […]

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