Regular fungi forays are organised by the Association de botanique et de mycologie de Sainte Maure de Touraine. Their aim is to survey the Tourangelle forests (Loches, Larçay, Preuilly, Chinon, etc) and to educate the public.
Gathering mushrooms in the forest remains a popular activity in France and many people are perfectly happy to eat wild mushrooms. Since there are poisonings every year due to people misidentifying species, joining the Association is one way of ensuring you know what you are eating. Theoretically you can take your mushrooms to the pharmacy and have the pharmacist identify them. In practice these days very few pharmacists have the knowledge to accurately identify mushrooms or pronounce on their edibility or otherwise.
Joining the Association on an outing is also a way of ensuring that there is no hunting scheduled for the day in the chosen section of forest, and that you have permission to gather mushrooms. Generally mushroom gathering for personal consumption is permitted on the weekends and holidays in publicly owned forests, but it can vary (there is usually a sign telling you what is permitted). To gather mushrooms in privately owned forests you need the permission of the landowner.
A fungi foray does not just concentrate on the dozen or so well known species of edible mushrooms. At the beginning of the outing you will be instructed to pick everything you see and bring it to the table for identification at the end of the outing. This is so lookalikes can be highlighted by the experts and because the Association is recording the species on each site visited. This information feeds into wider biodiversity records and helps form a body of knowledge about the forests that can direct their management.
The Tourangelle forests are rich in fungi species. They are old established forests which are managed with a light touch. Hundreds of different fungi make their home here.
The general public is very welcome on the Association's outings and there will be a brief announcement in the local newspaper with details of the next outing in the autumn months. In French this will be listed as a sortie mycologique or a sortie champignons.
|A basket of edible* mushrooms gathered on a fungi foray. *The mushrooms are mostly ceps/porcini/boletes, but the large cream specimen being pointed at is a Clouded Funnel Clitocybe nebularis, which has an aroma that puts most people off.|
|A fungi foray group about to head off into the Forest of Preuilly.|
|Fungi displayed on a table at the end of a foray, ready to be identified. An expert is explaining the difference between two very poisonous species -- the Death Cap and the Panther Cap. He pointed out that you must check each and every mushroom as it comes out of your basket if you are intending to eat them.|