Conservation gone mad?

Edwin Hutton e.hutton at
Tue Oct 31 13:14:53 EST 2000

Chris Raper wrote:
> On Sat, 28 Oct 2000 09:08:21 +0100, "Kevin Heath"
> <k.heath at> wrote:
> Hi Kevin
> [content snipped for brevity]
> >I've just seen an interesting little feature on NEWS24 about
> >conservationists moaning about people picking mushrooms on Wimbledon Common.
> >And now there is the threat of a mushroom picking ban on the common.
> ...
> >Do conservationists, in general, need to loosen up a bit if they are not to
> >start alienating the public?
> I think the threat to fungi is real but it isn't caused by the average
> Joe Public picking mushrooms for their own consumption.
> I was chatting to a couple of very good mycologists a while back and
> they said the problem is that many London restaurants make a big thing
> of offering wild-picked muchrooms in their dishes. There are now teams
> of commercial pickers who visit known localities for the best
> mushrooms and often pick the sites so clean there is a worry that the
> fruiting bodies will have little or no time to actually release their
> spores. :-(
> If you think about it, the species of commercial, edible mushrooms
> (Sep, Field, Parasol, Chanterelle etc) actually make up a tiny
> proportion of what is out there and they are being selectively
> 'predated' at an ever increasing rate. I don't think we should get
> silly about picking fungi but when collecting goes commercial I think
> we have to be very careful that we are in control of the quantities
> taken.
> Best wishes,
> Chris R.

As a bit of an amateur mycologist who is particularly pleased to
find something tasty for supper, I have not noticed any degradation
in mushroom supplies due to collecting. If anything a lot of
the edible species seem to fruit even more after picking, as though
there is feedback from the spores to the mycelium saying 'OK you
have done enough and can have a rest now'. The danger with the
commercial collectors is that they often use rakes to gather
up their booty and cause considerable disturbance to the mycelium.
(I don't do this, partly because it is much nicer to pick individual
fruiting bodies and clean them up on the spot than to fiddle about
at home trying to get rid of the mud.)

I also believe that a spread of artificial fertilizer is one of
the best ways of getting rid of interesting fungi. Just a feeling,
not research based.

I have cross-posted this to bionet.mycology. There are similar
problems over in the USA and we may get some useful feedback.

Edwin Hutton

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