News and updates from the mushroom world and my ‘Mushroom Diary’ blog.

Edible Mushrooms Trumps card game

Chatting all things fungi with Garden Life

Garden LifeThose lovely people from the Garden Life blog got in touch with me recently to have a quick e-chat!

We had a talk about everything mushroom in a quick interview for the their latest Outdoor Lifestyle section. I explain my passion for all things fungi along with some tips and advice, and of course relevant garden related questions – naturally.

I hope you enjoy reading it – see the full interview here. Enjoy.

Photo Faves of 2015

2015 was a good year for a lot of different fungi. I had taken many pictures, slowly improving my camera skills and having a lot of fun thrown in too!

This gallery shows just a modest selection of my favourite images last year. Most of the fungi are pretty common (some more photogenic than others). I hope you enjoy them. Thanks – J.

Mushroom Diary Website Facelift

Hi all. Just a quick update letting you know that the Mushroom Diary blog has had a minor facelift and will be a lot more user and visually friendly on all other smaller devices, such as your smart phone and tablet etc.

I’m guilty of being a little behind on my featured posts lately, mainly due to rejigging the website, along with the normal everyday business consuming so much time. So bear with me and I hope you enjoy the new look and feel.

Please feel free to leave comments (constructively – of course!) or even suggest anything you would like to see featured too.

Those mushrooms are always out there, but I’ve added a countdown on the homepage ticking its way towards the ‘official’ mushroom season – ie. autumn. It’s a bit of a gimmick I know, but I couldn’t resist!

All the best

Foraging in Foreign Lands

I’m holidaying in Cornwall this year, one of my favourite UK destinations, where I also like to keep my eye out for any summer mushrooms that may be about – when time permits of course.

Hopefully in the not too distant future, I would also like to venture abroad and enjoy a summer/autumn break to take in the sights and go on a little foray or two. As it happens, a recent email from Ian Holbrook & Hazel Ellis who run a hotel in Bulgaria caught my eye, and fuelled my interest. Apart from the usual and interesting holiday excursions, this destination also offers beautiful natural surroundings, with a wealth of mushrooms and fungi as well as other interesting flora and fauna. What better way to combine a holiday with foraging I thought – my kind of relaxation!

Foraging Abroad

Ideally located between the Pirin and Rila mountains (hence it’s name) in the village of Dolno Draglishte, Bulgaria.

It might be a while before I visit there (due to several factors beyond my control – boo!), but I’d thought I’d pass on the information to you, my audience, and see what you think. Holiday season is more or less upon us too. Here’s what Ian had to say…

“By way of introduction, my partner Hazel and I run walking and activity holidays in Bulgaria and as a self obsessed (but beginner) Shroomy, I came across your website whilst rambling the web recently. I saw you mentioned that finding a Jack O’ Lantern would be a good excuse for a holiday in Southern Europe and this gave me the idea to ‘pen’ this note to you (although out of the Chanterelle-like shrooms I couldn’t swear that we have the Jack…but I’m now going to be looking out for it this year!). We have a huge array of fungi growing in the valley, hills and mountains around us and collecting edibles in the season is a major pastime of the villagers life and there is of course, like France, great competition over the collecting of Boletus and Chanterelles! So the reason I write is to make you aware of Pirila Hotel and for your future consideration as a destination for one of your Foreign Forays! The hotel is ideally located between the Pirin and Rila mountains (hence it’s name) in the village of Dolno Draglishte near the ski resort of Bansko (1.5hr from the Greek border). It doesn’t take long to get to either mountain area, however Puff Balls, Field and many other species grow prolifically behind the hotel and the slopes leading into the forest, so you just need to don boots and get walking!

The hotel normally operates as an all inclusive tour, meaning, airport transfers, walk and tour transfers, guides (we also have access to a local fungi expert), translation (very important here!), en-suite twin room accommodation, breakfast, packed lunch, 3 course evening meal – all alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks whilst in the hotel, private pool, internet etc. flights however are not included. The normal rate is £550 per person based on two sharing and for a large group (14 up to 20) you can have sole use and define your own itinerary (eg. include several winery tours etc. – the wine here is excellent and great value Smile emoticon). Of course there would be a significant party leader discount available!!

I have attached some pictures of just a few of the fungi that were around last year (the beginning of September is the normally the height of season, or mid June) and a few pics of the hotel although more info can be found at Whilst we are fully booked during August and from 12th Sept to end of season, the week commencing 5th Sept currently has availability (as of 1 May, 2015).

If there is anything further you wish to know then please don’t hesitate to call or message us and please feel free to share this with any friends, associates, or on any forums!”

Thanks for getting in touch Ian & Hazel. Good luck for the main mushroom season. Enjoy the bounty!

Foraging Abroad

Local Market with local mushrooms, stunning views, local fungi. Kindly supplied by Ian Holbrook & Hazel Ellis, Hotel Pirilia, Bulgaria.

Bloomsbury Pocket Guide to Mushrooms

The UK Mushroom season is upon us. Well, just getting started anyway. Although mushrooms and fungi appear all year round, there’s no time like now. September to November are when they’re in most abundance and variety.

So there’s no better time than now to give my new Mushrooms Pocket Guide a good plug! Bloomsbury contacted me last year and said they were aiming to launch a Nature Pocket Guide series. This includes the following five titles: Insects, Garden Birds, Trees & Shrubs, Tracks & Signs and of course Mushrooms. There will be translated versions for the following countries: Scandinavia/Netherlands and France but right now I’m not sure when this is happening.

This accessible and handy guide features:

  • Comprehensive detail on 158 of the most common British & European mushrooms & fungi
  • Introduction covering identification tips & mushroom anatomy
  • More than 200 colour photos
  • Each species account features an introduction, key features, dimensions, spore print, habitat & season

This is my first time published, and I hope all those who get a copy will be happy with their purchase.
So if you fancy it, you can order one (or pre-order) directly from Amazon:


For further information, visit:

Star Jelly?

I’ve been off the mushroom reporting radar for a while. My sincere apologies, but December and January have been very hectic with the birth of daughter Elizabeth. So she’s to blame – bless her! I’ve included an early scan picture at the end of this post. Even though it has nothing to do with mushrooms – look again – she’s actually holding one. Honestly!

Anyway, I’m keen to get 2012’s main mushroom finds highlighted and backdated for all to see. But as a weird news update I wanted to feature this article first. Some of you may have heard or read about this already. But here’s the summary of something very weird…

In December 2012 I had received an email from a Mushroom Diary follower showing a picture very similar to what can be seen below asking the simple question ‘What is this?’. ‘No idea’ was my honest and straight forward reply!

I’m not alone in this though. Recently in Somerset (reported Feb 18, 2013) there have been similar sightings of this strange translucent blob in a British Nature Park. There have also been YouTube videos featuring this weird ‘Jelly raining from the sky’ and recently on Yahoo! and Sky news the ‘Jelly Invasion’ has begun!

Many experts have been perplexed by the nature of this strange jelly blob fungus, but research is ongoing. History records as far back as the 14th Century have reported it as star jelly, astral jelly or astromyxin. In folklore it is said to be deposited in the wake of meteor showers. Modern theories include it may be regurgitated innards of amphibians such as frogs and toads and of their spawn. Who knows?

I have not seen any of this stuff myself, but I’ve discovered it has been compared to Crystal Brain Fungus (Exidia nucleata) which I’ve seen a lot of in autumn and winter (see second picture below), but is only found on dead wood of broadleaved trees, not in grass like the strange skyblob! See the Yahoo! News report here.

Without any further evidence, feel free to make your own decision. The alien angle I like, but know is probably absolute twoddle (need to use that word more).

Note: Thanks to David Nicholls for the usage ‘Crystal Brain Fungus’ image (

Unknown jelly fungus

The unknown jelly blob from the skies – compared to a fungus

Crystal Brain Fungus Picture

Actual Crystal Brain fungus growing on dead wood. Courtesy of

Mushroom Scan

Little Elizabeth Ava. Very small. Very mushroom orientated!

Good TV – Afterlife: The Science of Decay

I’m not much of a TV fan, although I do love my movies. Yesterday I was in for a treat with a great BBC4 documentary, which I think anyone interested in the cycle of life (of which mushrooms and fungi are a great part) will love…

If you have time, pop over to the BBC iPlayer website for another chance to see: ‘After Life: The Strange Science of Decay’, It covers all aspects of decay and its place in nature. Sounds pretty grim but definitely not dull.

Of course, my main interest was fungi and mushrooms, which had some mind blowing facts, and I was extra enlightened to the field of micro biology and the powers of the single-celled slime moulds! And as a bonus I was pleased to hear Mushrooms actually saved Earth. God bless them…

There’s too much to talk about really, so I suggest to anyone interested in nature, life and also mushrooms you go and take a look while you can (unless you don’t like maggots – Mmmmm!). Brilliant stuff.

All the best
John Harris

PS. Click here to view (while you can) BBC4 After Life: The Strange Science of Decay

Mushroom Update – 2011/12

I’ve been off the scene for a while these last two months and feel deservedly ashamed of myself. But Christmas and New Year was a busy time for all, so I can blame it on that – and the fact it’s pretty baron out in the world of mushrooms. Roll on Spring…

Early Morning Woodland SunshineThis post is just an update of my future plans with ‘The Mushroom Diary’ this year, and also to look back and summarise 2011 on what it had to offer.

I will be continuing to add all my best fungal findings, most of which will be the ones I didn’t have time to include earlier in the year. With this in mind I will be labelling them with the relevant date, but also plan them show on the first page of the website until I add another.

Last years’ experiences is that 2011 wasn’t all that bad in delivering the goods. Earlier in the season, Morels had eluded me once again (much to my annoyance!), but there was plenty of other choice discoveries. The main season was an odd one indeed. September was a slow starter, and most of October was as dry as a bone! It was as if we were out of season! But November came to the rescue with perfect conditions – delivering a late, but bountiful season.

Who knows what the weather will get up to this year, so far it has been mild and slightly damp. It could encourage some early starters. I read somewhere last year that Shaggy Inkcaps (in some part of the UK) had shown themselves as early as May! We’ll just have to wait and see.

Additions to the website this year (I hope) will include an introduction to mushroom hunting for newcomers, a seasonal calendar chart showing the most common species throughout the year and an extended gallery to show the more detailed pictures I’ve taken but not included in my posts. Hopefully this will make the site a little more interesting for everyone. Thanks to those who have already shown an interest to the website/blog, it makes my work on it all the more rewarding and enjoyable. Thanks again.

And for anyone interested, I have several downloadable documents here showing all the species discovered from a selection of three great forays with the Leicestershire Fungi Study Group. Select from the list below and click to download. The files are in .doc format – the lists are pretty self explanatory.

Have a happy mushrooming year everybody and just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d include this picture of a very rare species I found earlier in the year. I think it may be Agaricus adidasicus! Very strange…

A rare species indeed! It’s strange what you can find while out foraging.