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Food for thought

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Patrick Harding casts his eye over a promising crop of fungi near Hathersage

A good crop of mushrooms is predicted in South Yorkshire and the East Midlands this year– but a Sheffield expert has warned that you need to know your onions before going out foraging.

Scores of species are sprouting forth boosted by recent damp weather, but there’s no simple way of telling the tasty ones from those which are deadly.  What is more TV cooking shows have sparked a greater interest in going out to pick edible fungi.

“Some gourmet species look very similar to lethal specimens like the Death Cap,”

said Dr Patrick Harding, who has studied the subject for 30 years, and who lives near High Storrs. 

“The UK has over 4,000 different species so it can be bewildering.  And just because a fungus is brightly coloured doesn’t necessarily mean its poisonous.  Meanwhile the pure white Destroying Angel lives up to its name. The only way to identify them is to arm yourself with knowledge.”

Now the Forestry Commission has teamed up with Dr Harding, who has written books on fungi, to run workshops in 3,000 acre Sherwood Pines Forest Park, near Mansfield, on 19 and 29 October.  He will  lead a foray to collect samples and then shed light on the fungi fact and fiction. Workshops run from 11am to 3.30pm. Booking is required on 01623 822447 and the cost is £20 per person.


  1. Walkers should never pick and eat fungi unless it has been positively identified as harmless.   Fungi also play a key role in the forest and should be picked sparingly and for personal consumption only.

  2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.

Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.