There’s a small stretch of coniferous woodland close to where I live, and over the years I have never seen such a variation of mushrooms, toadstools and fungi in such a relatively small place. Great stuff!
And today was no disappointment either. Poking out of above the leaves in a small clearing were the caps of a small group of Miller mushrooms (Clitopilus prunulus).
This was the first time I’d seen them here and I needed to check all characteristics of this wonderfully edible mushroom (as I always do) but especially this time as they were very close to the woodland/grassland border. The poisonous Fool’s Funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa) – a grassland species – is a sinister looking double for our tasty Miller mushroom.
The Miller has a pink spore print, so I also needed to be aware of confusion with other poisonous species with the same feature. For example, the Livid Pinkgill (Entoloma sinuatum), although not looking too similar, is quite an unpleasant toadstool.
The main identification markers were all there (see ID table below) – the size, the wavy irregular shape, the soft leathery (kid glove) texture, decurrent gills (that came away easily from the stem and cap), and of course the strong floury (mealy), raw pastry odour were all unmistakable.
The gills of this mushroom are initially white, then change to a mild pink colour as they mature (hence the pink spore print mentioned earlier). But to be on the safe side, I would always recommend you take a spore print (see how to make a spore print), just as I did, to doubly make sure.
Unfortunately these beauties were being systematically killed off inside from larvae infestation. They started at the base, munched up the stem and into the cap. I’m not sure if this killed off the spores developing properly or all spores had been shed (which I’m not convinced about), but not even a single spore had dropped to make any kind of print. Needless to say, I didn’t eat them, but then I couldn’t anyway – maggot munchies anyone!?
There should be more elsewhere or on the way soon. They can be found in small groups, and interestingly have some biological link with Ceps (Boletus edulis), so take a look around to see if there are any nearby. Good luck…
QUICK ID TABLE: THE MILLER Clitopilus prunulus
CAP / FLESH
3-10cm across. Convex then irregular and wavy. Soft leather feel. Inrolled margin. White to cream in colour.
1.5cm x 0.4-1.2cm. Same colour as cap. Usually off-centre attachment to cap.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
Decurrent. White then pink. Easily removed.
HABITAT / SEASON
Grass in open woodland. Summer – late autumn.
Edible and good.