Mushroom hunting with kids

mushroomAs September to November is mushroom season, I recently went mushroom hunting with my kids. But…and this is a big ‘but’…we didn’t pick, touch or eat any of them. I’m no expert in mushroom or fungi. I know that mushrooms are all fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms. That’s about the extent of my knowledge. What I did teach my kids is that you should never pick, cook or eat wild mushrooms unless you have an expert foraging with you. And that I was not.

fly agaric or panther capSome edible mushrooms even closely resemble deadly poisonous ones so better not to take a risk, I explained to them.

Is the photo above an Amanita Patherina (Panther Cap) or an Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric)? Both are poisonous by the way and the Panther Cap can even be fatal.  As far as kids are concerned they look like the classic toadstool in fairy tales.

In fact I’m not naming any of the mushrooms or fungi we found of which I have pictures in this post. I don’t want to accidently misidentify a mushroom or fungi and then have the image show up on the internet with the incorrect name. Not surprisingly The Times reported today that last year 237 people in Britain were poisoned by eating wild mushrooms and the numbers could rise this year.

So instead of mushroom foraging we went mushroom hunting. And lots of stomping.

mushrooms and skateboard parkMy kids noticed that mushrooms were growing everywhere when we recently saw them next to a skateboard park.

Various types mushrooms


All different sizes that even had ‘hair’ sprouting on them or were decomposing.

Then a friend told us that there were Puffballs and Earthballs in their woods. Immediately my kids were excited about looking for them as they wanted to make them burst – not eat them! Off we went on our mushroom hunt. As soon as we were in the damp, dark woods, my two began noticing and finding mushrooms and fungi all over.

kids mushrooms tree trunk

mushrooms on tree trunk

fungi on fallen tree branch

mushroom in woodland

Mushrooms and dead leaves

Soon they were running down paths and searching in the undergrowth in their quest for puffballs. Finally they found them amongst the ferns and in clusters deep in the forest.

kids hunting mushrooms in woods

finding puffballs earthballs fungi

And then the stomping began. They wanted spore clouds not edible mushrooms. Personally I wasn’t sure which ones were puffballs or earthballs. Appearances also can change if they’re young or beginning to rot.  The Mushroom Diary blog has some great posts describing Puffballs and Earthballs such as this one on Common Puffballs. So, once again, here’s some photos but no identification in case I’m wrong!

two white fungi

round shaped mushroom

My kids didn’t care what they were called. They just went and stomped on them – each time hoping for the fungi to explode in a spore cloud!

Luce Theo stomping fungi

Earthballs or Puffballs

spore cloud

luce stomping not hunting mushrooms

earthball cloud

It wasn’t a mushroom hunt. It was a massacre! Black spores oozed out of what I think were Common Earthballs.

Common Earthball Maybe

Then it was time to leave the woodlands’ mushroom and fungi and head back to the sunlight.

Sunlight by woods gates

As soon as we arrived home I washed all their clothes. My children’s mushroom hunting adventure was over and we ate store bought white mushroom caps with dinner.

13 thoughts on “Mushroom hunting with kids”

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  2. Pingback: Outdoor Play Roundup - October / Adventure Bugs

  3. That’s some rather epic mushroom hunting, I’m looking forward to going to find some growing in the Autumn mulch.

    NIpping over from Country Kids.

  4. Some really beautiful photos to mark what looked like a very enjoyable day. When I was very young, my Mum would pick mushrooms at the local cemetery. My Dad refused to eat them. #CountryKids

  5. Once went on a fungi identification course at the local uni, to improve my knowledge. Totally put me off eating any wild mushrooms ever again. Used to happily fry up field mushrooms and ink tops before I went. I remember kicking puffballs on the nearby airfield, when I was a child. Good fun. Used to take a golf club too. #CountryKids

  6. Fabulous photos as well as great advice! There is no way I’d ever eat a mushroom I’d picked… just not worth the risk!
    Sounds like the kids had lots of fun foraging in the woods.

  7. Lovely photos – I’ve never been mushroom hunting but I think I would be the same – if I can’t be 100% sure whether what we’re looking at is safe, there is no way I would pick it and try to take it home to eat. Sounds like you had a fun time in the woods.

  8. Brilliant fun – I love all the stomping photos! I always think that walks that involve a hunt for something are so great, the kids get so enthusiastic and excited by it 🙂 Mushrooms are so interesting to look at, but they are very definitely on my ‘do not touch’ list!

  9. Yes, I love fungi and mushroom spotting but have absolutely no idea what it is we’re looking at. They are incredibly beautiful and potentially incredibly dangerous-but I wonder if this is part of their charm?!

  10. A wise way to hunt mushrooms. I remember mushroom hunting in the cow fields in cornwall as a child with my dad, we never thought twice about taking them back to our caravan and frying them up for breakfast however I am like you and very nervous to let the kids handle them. I have eaten a couple myself when I thought they were OK and left it a day or so before letting the children pick them too. So far I’m still here and healthy! That fairy tail one of yours looks properly poisonous, some lovely pictures from a wonderful woodland hunt. My favourite is the last one emerging into the sun. Beautiful. thank you for joining me for Country Kids.

  11. I love going on mushroom hunting walks. I have a good ID book specific to our county but I still wouldn’t trust myself not to pick something dodgy. More than happy just to look and attempt to work out what they are.

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