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Mushroom mistakes


Now just a word about wandering off with a guide book or a few pages printed off the internet to get some mushrooms. There was a lady poisoned after eating a nice meal of saffron milkcaps at her friends house because she was told something like they were the orange ones growing under the pines up the road. So she picked what she thought was the tasty ones and got this mushroom by accident. You probably know this common poisonous mushroom, the cute little fly agaric – amanita muscari and are wondering how on earth….

amanita muscariI photographed it in Ulverstone right next to its older siblings which are bleached by the sun to a nice saffron orange. To top off the disguise note the ‘spots’ which are the warty remains of the universal veil around the baby mushroom, can wash off in the rain!

amanita muscari

amanita muscari - with leaf
amanita muscari - leaf print

If you turn it over the gills are still white and there is no orange milk exuded when you cut the stem.

parasol mushroom

Tim, who also attended Trevor’s talk, confidently identified this specimen brought along by Rowena from her garden as a delicious edible parasol mushroom – Macrolepiota procera which has a “distinctive, double-edged ring, that slides freely up and down the stem.” But before you race out and look for a meal of these be aware they are NOT  a beginners mushroom. Tim is confident only because he has seen hundreds and lepiotas contain many poisonous species. It is easily confused with its evil doppelganger the green spored Chlorophyllum molybdites and so causes the most mushroom poisonings every year ( thankfully not fatal) as I learned at the Fungimap debate. Unfortunately even microscopic examination may not separate the two although molybdites usually has a grey or green spore cast while the parasol mushroom’s is white. “often the spores take a while to mature and may even appear to be white as in Lepiota! There was a poisoning some years back in which a famous mycologist searched the entire fruiting body that had poisoned someone and could only find *one* green spore.” Also there are white spored look-a-likes like the shaggy parasol confusingly listed as a choice edible although causing gastric upset to some people and others eat them without a problem!

20120517-171536.jpgThis one I found growing in the leaf litter by the roadside. Now is it a parasol mushroom or one of the poisonous look-a-likes? The ring is neither double nor moveable and it is more dainty in size – so I suspect from looking up Mushrooms and toadstools of Australia ( *see caveat below ) it is the ‘mildly poisonous’ Lepiota Cristata which has a very distinct spiky spore and is known to occur in australia.

UPDATE: probably not cristata – – I’ve seen pictures and they are too small. Anyway finally found a nice parasol with some guidance when we went out hunting again at Oldina and ate it after checking the spore print (dusted in seasoned flour and fried in butter, wonderful flavour – thanks to this book  (good field notes though not written for australia and very incomplete in terms of poisonous lookalikes, great pictures and awesome recipes Dont’ rely on it as a field guide! see more mushroom mistakes )


April 2012 – Mushroom Hunting


Wild mushroom hunting in Europe is fanatical, spawning a top rating show in Spain and actual murders in Italy over the secret location of prized fungi.

Trevor Sneath initiated us into foraging for the slippery jack (Boletus portentosus or Suillus luteus) and the saffron milkcap (Lactarius deliciousus) – a skill passed onto him by Polish friends.

There were tastings of prepared mushrooms dishes including pickled saffies and Carolyn presented some medicinal mushroom information and samples. Tim, a new member, identified another species brought along by a visitor as the tasty parasol mushroom. (unlike the other two this is NOT a mushroom suitable for beginners )

All information is provided as is without warranty. It takes time to develop the skills to identify edible plants including mushrooms – when in doubt go without!

  • The first time you collect any wild edible it is best to eat it sparingly.
  • Some people are allergic to mushrooms.
  • Save a small quantity of anything you collect for identification in case you have a reaction.
  • Collecting spoiled mushrooms or Improper food handling after collection will also cause food poisoning.

We had such an enthusiastic audience that despite the mizzle Trevor was eventually coerced into taking us out to the pine forest where a bumper crop of saffron milkcaps awaited. The slippery jacks found were somewhat past their prime but it was good to get a look at them in the wild. More notes

Please be aware that you will undertake this outing at your own risk. This is a pine forest and we will be off the beaten track – wildlife is present (jackjumpers, snakes).

Things to bring:

  • picnic lunch, drinks
  • small containers and a basket
  • penknife (on lanyard) or knife
  • paper bags and coolbag/esky icebrick for storage
  • notepad and pen
  • camera with closeup capabilities
  • walking shoes or boots, gloves, hat, insect repellant, raingear, first aide kit

grilled maitake served with warm salsa
List of medicinal Mushrooms:
Chaga – prepared as tea
Cordyceps – prepared as hot beverage cococeps
Maitake ( hen of the woods ) – prepared as dish grilled
Matsutake – prepared as dish risotto
Reishi – prepared as hot beverage
Shiitake – prepared as dish marinated
Snow Fungus – prepared as a dessert dish

Useful links:
Learn to distinguish the saffron milkcap (Lactarius deliciosus) from its poisonous cousin Lactarius deterrimus – False Saffron Milkcap , brown roll rims (Paxillus involutus) which look similar and also bleed although tending to be brown, or woolly milk caps (Lactarius torminosus) that are pink or red and have a woolly margin.

Tasmanian Fungi Festival 2012 Hobart Thursday 26-sunday 29 April. Events at the Tasmanian Fungi Festival are aimed at all levels of interest

2012 Tarkine fungi activities In May 2012, Fungimap, in partnership with the Central North Field Naturalists, will be holding some fungal forays in the Tarkine at Corinna.

Mushroom picking guide – Oberon visitor info centre

Prahran Market Mushroom Podcast! by Damian Pike Wild Mushroom Specialist

 Cytaria gunnii grows only on Nothofagus trees in Tasmania and southern Victoria.Australian National Botanic Gardens – online Australian Fungi guide

“Fungal brew”
From Lost Land of the Tiger ep 3
Brave BBC presenter Steve Backshall travels to Tibet and gets a taste of the famous mountain medicine – cordyceps sinesis, the caterpillar fungus.

April 2011 Dirty Electricity


Dirty Electricity
Kelvin Jowett, Researcher, Launceston Polytechnic and radio station technician presents his findings, demonstrating live with gauss meter and Stetzer filters, one of the tools available for protecting yourself and your family from harmful radiation from electromagnetic fields ( EMF or EMR – electromagnetic radiation ) that are to be found in every home, school and workplace.

He discussed sources of EMF such as mobile phone towers, microwave ovens, electric wiring including underfloor heating systems and electric blankets, as well the benefits of the Stetzer filters, air ionizers and the book by Lyn McClean, Australia’s foremost consumer advocate on the issue of EMR.

Note: Kelvin does not sell the filters or provide EMF consulting.

Stetzer filters and air ionizers can be bought at various places online eg.
but be aware they are not a complete EMR solution and some government agencies do not think they work

this explains stetzer filters and EMF rather well.

a practical non alarmist summary on what to do by sustainable living tasmania
A guide for Homeowners by Don Maisch

More information on EMF and a trifield meter with instructions can be hired for $15 from:
Tasmanian Environment Centre Inc. trading as Sustainable Living Tasmania
1st Floor, 71 Murray St., Hobart, Tas 7000, Phone (03) 6234 5566, Fax (03) 6234 5543
( does not measure EMF from radio frequencies – radio frequency radiation or RFR )

Complete EMF safety kits can also be purchased or hired from EMR australia

If you would like a home/office EMF survey:
EMFacts Consultancy: Don Maisch
Ph: (03) 6243 0195

there is a low emf underfloor heating solution called ” twin core” system. It is available in Australia from thermotec.

poster AstroApril2011

December 2010 Meeting


This last meeting of the year was ASTRO TAS members opportunity to present items of interest and ask questions. It began with questions about duck keeping, worm farming and composting – and an interesting discussion followed.

Elisabeth presented a recipes for making LSA or Oat milk using a Champion Juicer, also for a recipe for making a slice from the waste pulp – LSA Milk and Slice Recipe.

John circulated photos of berry house he has built, using Hanging Strawberry Beds to stop slugs and snails as well as bringing them to good picking height.

Allan described his method of making a healing ointment from St John Wort and Calendula flowers.

Rodger demonstrated how make a sprouter to sprout seeds to produce live nutritious food. ( for Rodger’s Live Sprouting video demonstration see Astrotas Picnic).

Links: Dr. Ann Wigmore shows how to make her lightly fermented wheatgrass drink – Rejuvelac. Excerpt from a video.

August 2010 – Fermentation with Chris and Peppa Tolley


Click links for copy of the handout provided at the August meeting, together with some additional notes from Chris & Peppa Tolley. After attending the talk and demonstration of fermented vegetables, no doubt lots of us will feel inspired to try this fascinating method of preserving our abundant harvests!
Guidelines for Fermented Vegetables
Raw Cultured Vegetables
Kefir starter powder is available from local health food shops or if you would like to buy true live immortal kefir grains contact us.

Useful site about kefir with a funny video on preparing milk kefir
Also, for any members interested in a beginner’s course of Emotional Freedom Technique, you can find information on this at

more information about the Weston Price Foundation
you can read the original book by Dr Weston Price for free here:
Title: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
Author: Weston A. Price
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
Update: Note the second edition which is still in print has additional information.
Rami Nagel discusses preventing and healing dental cavities naturally using Weston Price principles in one of the Food Summit lectures