This mushroom is unappealing in both looks and name, but it is still valuable to the fungi fanatic . . . This gets its commonest name from its supposed resemblance to a human ear and because, according to folklore, Judas hanged himself on an elder. This must be a myth (elders do not grow in […]
This American illegal immigrant was accidentally released by one of most senior aristocrats a century ago, only to wipe out its native red cousins. The only consolation is that it is extremely edible . . . These apparently sweet and often remarkably tame creatures first escaped from the animal collection of the Dukes of Bedford […]
l brush with a nettle. Passing a hand or foot across this barbed weed is at the very least unpleasant, so not surprisingly most people therefore balk at the idea of putting the same in their mouths.
British autumns may be synonymous with the fruit of the horse chestnut, but the rest of Europe attention is much more interested by its distant relative, the sweet chestnut. This originated in Asia, but was brought to Europe by the Greeks. The Romans first planted it here and although it does best in the south east, the tree is relatively widespread, thanks in large part to coppicing well and producing straight-grained, durable, timber.
If the mention of coastal wild food brings anything to mind, for most people it means shellfish or perhaps beach fishing. Far more abundant and just as tasty, however, are our seaweeds.
Morels are one of the first edible mushrooms to emerge in spring. They are also one of the most delicious . . . This strange-looking mushroom is deceptively well-camouflaged. The morel (Morchella esculenta) has a strangely-shaped deeply pitted, yellow-brown to near-black, cap. This grows on a thick white stalk which emerges from sandy soil beneath […]
This lush green plant, is frequent along hedgerows, wasteland and verges across southern Britain, but is most often found near the coast. This is because it needs mild growing conditions, for it was introduced from the Mediterranean by the Romans who prized this thick-stalked, early-growing, plant as an important vegetable.
There are very few wild mushrooms around in winter, but Jew’s ears (Auricularia auricular-judae) are an exception and easy to find in almost any weather . . . This gets its name from its supposed resemblance to a human ear and because Judas was supposed to have hanged himself on an elder (although it can […]
It is probably no exaggeration to say that most English canals, rivers and lakes now teem with alien signal crayfish. These originally come from America, but were brought here in the 1970s as ‘freshwater lobster’. Some soon escaped and they are now a serious pest, not least because they carry a disease which is fatal to our native white clawed species.
These small sweet berries are nothing like the familiar cultivated versions which derive principally from North American relatives. Our wild variety shares the same characteristic trefoil leaves, however and is locally common, particularly on chalky soils. It is shade-tolerant and often springs up in large numbers, particularly in woodland after felling has disturbed the soil. Its taste varies widely, however, with the sweetest reputedly coming from those growing wild among limestone rocks where the reflected heat helps ripening. Similarly, they are often found in large numbers along old railway lines where the runners straggle across the clinker, benefiting from the warmer microclimate.