The Problem With Wood Blewits

Ok I just wanted to share this important information with all you mushroom forager or wanna be mushroom foragers, I’m talking about the Wood Blewits (Lesista nuda) a gorgeous yummy mushroom that I have posted about here a few times.

Wood Blewits (Lepista nuda) at the bottom of picture.

On one of my latest forays I was lucky enough to come upon a direct example of how people get poisoned when foraging for wood blewits, I say lucky here because to me there is nothing like first hand experience, you can read about it look at all the pictures under the sun which is all good but it is no replacement for first hand experience so I’m sharing mine here in the hope it will add to your collection of helpful information about this particular species.
So I was strolling around picking wood blewits with basket and knife in hand and I came across this one mushroom under a tree very close to the other wood blewits when I grabbed the cap and sliced through the stem something just didn’t feel rite it is hard to explain this feeling you get, experienced mushroomers will probably know what I’m talking about.
Foraging is an instinctual thing as much as a well researched logical thinking thing and thats why I believe when foraging you need to be very present and aware of your surroundings not just chatting away to friends or listening to music etc here silence is golden and may save your life.
This mushroom just felt wrong to the touch it was like denser or something and it didn’t have that beautiful flowerery smell that wood blewits normally have so I put it in a separate place until I got home, when I got home I put it on a piece of paper to do a spore prints I use half white and half brown paper so I can see all the ranges of color, I suggest if you are picking mushroom until you get really confident and even after that for species with toxic look alikes, you leave them over night or for a few hour on paper to see spore prints before eating them, just make it a part of your routine you can still cover with a cloth so they don’t dry out no problems.
And wow I was quiet chuffed at the result and very grateful I didn’t eat it! ….. the spore print was indeed brown the wood blewits spore print is white to soft pinkish, so what could it be I had a fair idea what it was as you SHOULD study and become familiar with all the look alikes of all the mushroom you are hunting for and intend on consuming, it was the Cortinarius violaceus, it was very simalar to the wood blewit and I can see why people mistake them, so be warned here in Tasmania they DO grow together! So be careful. See pictures below.

This is the Wood Blewits (Lepista nuda) Sorry no picture of the spore print but it is soft pink or white so very different to the Cortinarius violaceus.

Cortinarius violaceus, Wood Blewit look alike, see spore print is brown, the cap is a darker, the stem is thicker, it smells and feels different to wood blewits.


21 comments on “The Problem With Wood Blewits

  1. Great post sis! Nothing like first hand experience. Another lady down here accidentally ate the Amanita Phalloides buttons and died last week so it’s really cool to see a rational and pragmatic post about how important being careful is, but without all the panic surrounding mushroom picking that’s going on down here.

  2. Great post, thank you. Using brown and white paper for spore prints is something I never thought of…very helpful.
    I don’t think I have Wood Blewits here… the only one I know and will eat is Agaricus augustus. Must learn some of the other species.

  3. Hay mate, we have had more different species of mushrooms come up this year than ever before here in Tassie. I think my list of edibles is about 15 or 16 now?
    Keep learning about ones in your area you want be sorry. 🙂

  4. Yer thanks sis, There has been a few cases around the world so far, it is sad and some cases could have been avoided with correct education but some are just plain old mistakes. I’m afraid hysteria doesn’t help the situation it is more dangerous to drive a car every day, more people die of food poisoning than mushroom poisoning.
    People will always be curious about wild foods especially mushrooms it is our nature, giving people the correct information without the fear and misinformation and having this in our education system from an early age would help a lot more than the fear campaigns, the fear and hype may be good for the newspapers, new stations and magazines ratings but it isn’t helping and if anything it is hindering getting the correct information out there. I’m sorry people die and no disrespect intended but there needs to be some perspective in this arena asking to much from most media out lets I think!

  5. Blewits should not be eaten raw as they are not edible this way.In fact some people parboil them before fully cooking and throw away the water which boiled them.Does anyone know how poisonous raw blewirs sre?

  6. Greg I have many post on Wood Blewits and have explain how I prepare them there somewhere in my blog, I don’t eat them raw I fry mine in olive oil or put them in stews fresh or dried.
    There is literature that some people can have a reaction to these fungi that is why I always say eat small amounts when first trying any wild foods to see how your body reacts to them then try a bit more and wait and then when you feel your body is ok with them then dig in 🙂
    To answer the question at the end I don’t know how toxic they are raw but I assume they would maybe give you a tummy ache they are not deadly as far as I know not many fungi actually are.

  7. I have found large amounts of bulbous stemmed, purplish tinted when young, white, firm flesh when cut length wise. Purple tinged rim on caps and gills turning brown with age. Finding them in central Indiana during early September. Very firm, nice roomy smell. Purple tinges disappear a couple hours after picking and entire mushroom turns light tan brown. Any idea or do you need a picture?

  8. Very useful post. I had a very similar experience yesterday (I’m in France). The first mushrooms I found looked like wood blewits to me, but, just to be sure, I put one on black paper to check the spore print which I had read should be pink. This morning I checked and it was rusty brown, which would suggest some sort of cortinarius.

  9. yer I really wanted to share my experience with them, I luv blewits n wanted to help people be sure ov what they r picking so they can enjoy them to. Definitely don’t eat the ones with dark spores. 🙂

  10. I don’t think that is Cortinarius violaceus. Texture of the cap looks wrong. It may well be another Cortinarius. Also, C. violaceus is edible, although can’t compete with blewits for taste.

  11. Thanks Geoff, yer we have many C species in Tasmania so not sure exactly what one it was, but didn’t know C violaceus was edible but wouldn’t be confident to ID it from others, which are toxic n I just wanted to show how close it looked to Blewits n how important pore prints are. 🙂

  12. Pingback: Clitocybe (Lepista) nuda – The Wood Blewit – a surprise | Tall trees and Mushrooms

  13. Hi Prue. I found my first blewits here in WA this year. I can see problems with confusion with Cortinarius too. I was surprised to see you describe the Cortinarius spore print as brown. I have found Cortinarius to give a rusty orange print.

    I was also surprised by Geoff’s comment about the edibility of C. violaceus and will research that.

    Here, I would expect C. archeri to be the main species likely to cause confusion, but I have seen a couple of other species, possibly undescribed, with purple tinges. I have linked this post to my blog for reference about the Cortinarius confusion.

  14. Hay glad you found my blog useful mate n yer there could b otha ones confused with tha Blewits ova there in WA, I only really know Tassie.
    Cheers 🙂

  15. In the book-A Field Guide to Australian Fungi by A.M Young- (Qld Toxicologist for many years) Must be cooked thoroughly to destroy the substance it contains that can damage red blood cells.

  16. Yes that is correct, some people react to them if not cooked well as with many foods. I didn’t include that information in this blog as I had in others to do with cooking them this blog was specifically about the toxic look alike in my area but it is a good reminder to people research all foods before you eat them.

  17. The dark corts that grow under deciduous trees are edible; however, if near a pine inedible, even though it’s the same species. I had the same thing here in Michigan, a court right next to blewits, similar but the blewit smells to me like fruit loops or earl grey.

  18. hi Jessica, I have never heard or read any information about the one species being toxic in one spot and not another and personally I wouldn’t trust it if I did sorry but i’m pretty careful when it comes to fungi, to my understanding it is either two different species you are dealing with or I don’t posses that knowledge. I’m happy to be wrong in writing but not in practice and I don’t have time or the inclination to research the issue as I am leaving my blog for good shortly but there are lots of well informed fungi people blogging now so triple check everything n please be careful but enjoy your mushy adventures. Cheers P

  19. There are dozens of purplish Corts out there. The experts barely bother to sort them out and rarely can agree what to call the local species. Given that worst of them can taste good, not give you gastrointestinal problems, and contain slow-acting kidney toxins that will put you on a transplant list, none of the Cortinarius species are worth the risk.

  20. I agree Truffledog cool name by tha way!There are so many good safe edible fungi it’s not worth tha risk. Thanks for your imput mate.

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