Happy (belated) new year to you all! Things have been very busy for me pre-Christmas, hence the delay featuring this lovely and edible treat I found in November, even though it can often be seen in the winter months!
I’m so happy to have found this mushroom recently as I don’t see much of it nowadays. It has patchy distribution throughout Europe and is notably harder to find than our reliable Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda). However, I hope you do come across The Field Blewit or Blue-Leg (Lepista/Clitocybe saeva) pretty soon too. It is one of the more highly prized wild edible mushrooms to be found.
These two conspicuous ‘Blewits’ look very similar but have a few notable differences. Firstly the most obvious difference is that the Blue-Leg is found mainly in Fields/pasture (as you would expect with such a name!) but it can reside close to woodland in grassy hedgerows (as in this case) or even gardens. They’re usually found in Fairy rings, but I don’t see much of that. My bad luck I guess.
The smooth, large cap of a mature specimen (often with a wavy margin) is pallid brown in colour, unlike the Wood Blewit which has a distinctive violet hue.
The gills are similar in their crowded, fleshy appearance but have different colouring; the Field Blewit’s gills are whitish when young, maturing to a ‘pale flesh’ colour, unlike the violet tinge present in the Wood Blewit.
The streaky coloured stems however (or ‘Legs’ in this case) are very similar. The Field Blewit has a strong violet shade, which is bizarre considering they’re known as Blue-Legs – but there you go, I don’t make the rules! The contrasting light brown of the cap and strong violet stem is quite distinctive.
The Field Blewit is superior in flavour to the more common Wood Blewit, and apparantly they both store well in a freezer for future consumption. Yum.
Have a good new year and here’s hoping you have good foraging fortune. (P.S. Look out for Jelly Ear which is more conspicuous this time of year – they’re great for stir fry with a wealth of health benefits. Enjoy).
QUICK ID TABLE: FIELD BLEWIT Lepista saeva
CAP / FLESH
6-12cm across. Smooth, pale brown and fleshy. Flat to convex, sometimes with a central depression as it ages. Wavy edged with age.
3-6cm x 1.5-2.5cm. Violet/lilac (bluish) and fibrous. Sometimes swollen at base.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
Fleshy, crowded. Sinuate. Pale whitish when young. Flesh colour when older.
HABITAT / SEASON
In pasture/fields, grassy hedgerows. Sometimes gardens/orchards. Autumn – early winter.
Edible. Excellent – Cook well.
The Genus LEPISTA (Blewits): Characteristics to look out for:
• Small to medium size. Pale to brownish caps. Some feature lilac/purple colouring on cap and stem.