News and Trends

Mushroom Hunting


Text Lianne Burton Mushroom consultant Dr Adriaan Smit Production René Slee Photographs Athol Moult Forest Fun HL gardening editor René Slee regularly takes her teenage children and their friends into the pine forests near Blaauklippen in Stellenbosch. ‘Going mushroom spotting is the best way to get the kids out of the house and away from the TV. Once you go into a forest looking for a specific thing, you start seeing so much that you usually wouldn't notice … the astonishing textures and colours. All your senses come alive.’ They leave the serious foraging to friends, however, who have extensive experience in the fine art of  identifying edible mushrooms. Expeditions generally end with a forest picnic and a game of pine-cone cricket. Tread Lightly Small quantities of some mushrooms can kill and certain poisonous mushrooms look like non-poisonous mushrooms. Do not eat wild mushrooms unless they have been identified by a mushroom expert. Beginners should learn to identify Boletus edulis (cèpe in France and porcino in Italy). It is safe to eat and the African Boletus edulis is highly sought-after. It occurs in pine and oak plantations after the first rains. Among the best mushroom-hunting forests are Jonkershoek, Tokai and the Tsitsikamma (Western Cape) and Magoebaskloof (Limpopo). For information on mushroom courses and forays, contact the South African Gourmet Mushroom Academy, mushroomacademy.com. This article was originally featured in the June 2009 House and Leisure issue.