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Mushroom season in Bonn and the region : Collectors have a fine nose

Mushroom season in Bonn and the region : Collectors have a fine nose

Mushrooms thrive particularly well in mixed forests and on unfertilized meadows. Collectors have a nose for where they can be found.

There are not many houses in Klein-Villip. As a tiny village with a famous wedding chapel, it can be reached by two inconspicuous access roads and is situated in the middle of greenery between woods and meadows. These are the best conditions for all those who like to search for mushrooms and are familiar with them. "In symbiosis with a mixed forest like this one with beeches, oaks and moss, mushrooms have good opportunities to develop", says the experienced mushroom gatherer Roland Gassert.

"Most mushroom collectors know about collecting from their childhood days," says the restorer from Klein-Villip. Like him, a handful of other villagers go out in late summer or autumn to collect in the meadows and woods. "Not at any particular time, it varies from year to year," says Gassert. Over the years, collectors develop a nose for when and where mushrooms are available. "Sometimes you can literally smell them", he explains. The forest mushroom, for example, exudes an intense aniseed aroma, unlike its counterpart from the pasture, the meadow mushroom. Now, however, the mushroom season is almost over and the number of finds is decreasing.

In the area around Klein-Villip, you can not only find these two edible species. Gassert has known some of them for many years: "There are also porcini mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms or edible sponge mushrooms here. You can especially find them where fertilizer is not used. A prerequisite condition, however, is that there was a damp phase in the early growth stages. However, you do not find the same quantity of mushrooms each year at the same place, explained the experienced collector.

On a meadow that had produced enormous quantities of meadow mushrooms in one year, nothing but grass grew in the subsequent years. "After that, some came again", you just can’t know in advance. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, a mushroom picker never reveals where he found his tasty dinner, because "where mushrooms have once grown, they can be found again at some point". Then the collectors have only a few days to go hunting and "of course, you don't want anyone else to get there first."

Whoever is lucky and finds one or two kilos of tasty finds has secured a meal. However, the peak season of mushrooms is almost over for this year, says the experienced collector. Legal concerns play a minor role in the small town. Everyone knows each other and who is harvesting their meadows. "Otherwise you just have to ask the owner," Gassert recommends.

There are a few rules to follow, especially if you have never or not often collected mushrooms before. "Do not go out alone and always take someone with you who knows what they are doing," advised Gassert. In addition, you should not collect everything in a wild collecting rush and practise identifying the finds later at home. "It is better to concentrate on two or three types of mushrooms that you can be sure of later," the restorer advised.

A misidentification does not always end as harmlessly as Gassert himself once experienced. Instead of a meadow mushroom, he found a specimen that turned yellow in the pan. At the mushroom advice centre, he received information about the interesting find. "It was a sheep mushroom; not poisonous, but not really edible either."

A deadly error would be to confuse a mushroom with the highly poisonous death-cap mushroom. "The death-cap mushroom can be recognised by a ring-shaped structure at the base and its white lamellae, explained Gassert and advised to simply leave the well alone.

(Original text, Petra Reuter; translation, John Chandler)