When the rains come in Autumn, the karri forest comes alive with a huge variety of fungi.
One of the mose sought after ones is Agaricus sylvaticus, the forest mushroom. It grows to a diameter of approximately 150 mm and is often found in large outcrops.
I have childhood memories of walking through the forest picking these mushrooms when we would come down and stay here on school holidays. Those memories are an strong driver for my living here now.
The forest mushroom is quite a distinctive fungus and once one has seen a few, it is easy to recognise them. There is, however one caution that I would apply to picking and eating them and it is the same caution that I apply to all Agaricus species – if it smells of phenol, leave it alone. Another description of that smell is ‘like India Ink’.
I have picked and eaten these mushrooms for many years without ever finding any that smelled of phenol, but one year, when they were in great abundance, I picked a bag of them and the phenol smell was clearly evident. Perhaps it was the fact that there were so many of them, I don’t know. But I didn’t risk eating them. Mushrooms containing phenol are likely to cause distressing stomach upsets.
Sometimes this mushroom can reach enormous size. This specimen was found when I was collecting firewood in the mixed jarrah/marri forest.