Blue Hats for Winter – The Wood Blewit

This post was inspired by overhearing a conversation at my local pub where they raved on about a local guy who knew where the ‘Blue Legs’ were at! He had bags of them for sale! I naturally assumed they meant ‘Blewits’. Only later I have realised ‘Blue Legs’ are a common name given to ‘Field Blewits’ which are much less common than our Wood Blewits in question, which has the common name of ‘Blue Cap’. Often I have seen people get them mixed up, so this makes you appreciate the relevance of scientific ‘latin’ names. The scientific names make sense overall (even though they tend to change and move around as scientific understanding evolves).

Winter was making itself felt as it’s cold arm stretched across the land. But one lazy Sunday afternoon at the end of November, I dragged myself over to the local mushroom hangouts. Being south side of a major city you’re a little stuck for local woodland. Blaby on the other hand (South Leicester) comes up with the goods. We have a collection of mini public woodland and country byways. They’re all great because at one point or another they eventually end up at the local pub! Or is that my doing?

Anyway. For a casual stroll, I was surprised to come across quite a few lovely specimens. Three of them I’m still not sure about and still checking. But today I came across a solitary ‘Wood Blewit’ (Clitocybe/Lepista nuda). You’ll maybe notice I have filed this post both under ‘Identity Crisis’ AND ‘Woodland Treats’ categories. All the identification characteristics were there: The colour, the presence of a wavy margin and also it being a stand alone species, living on dead organic matter (saprotrophs). When picking them you’ll notice the the woodland floor wants to come with them too! Another tell tale ID sign. As looks can be deceiving, be aware of mistaking it for one of the ‘Webcaps’. A spore print (see how here) can help solve this issue.

See the pics below. I know they’re not of the best quality as I was bloody cold and didn’t have time to get the best results!

Wood Blewit, Blue Leg or Blue Hat

The blue (purple/violet) colours of the Wood Blewit mushroom

In fact, the first time I had taken a spore print of the Blewit, I was very unconvinced about the pale pink (or pale lilac) colour that was to be expected. It seemed to look like a very light brown!

But after some extra professional advice I was comforted in the fact that this was an understandable concern and that Webcaps have a very distinct ‘rust brown colour’ – which is good to know…

(Note: See my other ‘snow covered’ post on the Wood Blewit).

11 replies
  1. Baja
    Baja says:

    Hi there..I picked a mushroom that I cannot identify (I bought the pocket Collins book about mushrooms as a start to my foraging ventures – also not anything too similar in there). It looks very similar to this, although the cap is not really purple/violet, but more grey, however the stem has kind of purple streaks to it..It is similar size to this with gills etc..any ideas? Found it about a week ago in pretty short grass.

    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Baja. Wood Blewits tend to fade more brownish when they age and appear more paler if they are drying out, Similar to the top main image on this post. See what you think while examining your specimen.

  2. Baja
    Baja says:

    Cheers. Been loving my first mushy foraging experiences..found Chanterelles (excuse spellings), Shaggy Pholiota’s, and Jews ears all in my first couple weeks and eaten many!..I actually don’t mind Pholiota’s especially fried in butter (says inedible in my little book because bitter but this i think is down to personal preference and fried in butter takes the bitterness away I find)..Did hear tho that can react bad with alcohol. Cheers anyway think I need more research before delving into some my others

  3. Bomber
    Bomber says:

    Hi. I have been eating and finding what we call Blue legs for years and now I’m over 70 I still get them from one of our local lads in my local WMC. You talk about blewits, they are mostly in wood we call them wood blues. I was always told if there is Blue on it, eat it. You will only get them in winter and you can not cultivate them. As we speak I have about 5lb of them and I shall share them with my family – we love them.

    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Good stuff. They are nice edible mushrooms. However, a Webcap (Cortinarius) lookalike can last through to early winter. They have the blue ting colouring too. But they are less frequent and have very dark rust brown spores.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] month is November, at the height of the mushroom season, and along with swarming crops of Wood Blewits and Birch Milkcaps, this other distinctive species, I discovered, were also in great numbers. I had […]

  2. […] 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 […]

  3. […] year to you all. It’s a typically dull and cold(ish) January and apart from the lovely edible Wood Blewit, Velvet Shank and Oyster Mushrooms around at this time, there are other groups of mushrooms to be […]

  4. […] on Wood Blewits in my posts and further identification 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 […]

  5. […] 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. […]

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