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Updated: Nov 30, 2022

This time of year the foraging pickings are slimmer than usual but still plenty around in somewhat more concentrated groups.

Mushrooms are one of the staple foraging foods at this time of year but that comes with a warning. Like all foods you should be 100% certain of a positive ID of any wild edibles before consuming it. And if in any doubt whatsoever it should be left well alone.

Mushrooms often have lookalikes which can range from being selectively irritating to some people’s constitution giving them a mild tummy upset, while not effecting others. To ones that can be deadly if enough is consumed. No mushroom can kill you by merely handling it you have to consume it for any serious effects.

But that said, there are some easily identifiable mushrooms that are a wonderful free and wholesome food. And with the tremendous range of free information online now, finding out these mushrooms and their key identifying features is easy to do. YouTube videos are an excellent source of this information.

Some mushrooms to research that are available right now in autumn are the ‘Trooping Funnel mushroom’ , the ‘Penny Bun’ a bolete mushroom, ‘Winter Chanterelle’, Parasol mushroom, but be careful as the shaggy parasol mushroom is a look a like and although not a deadly one can give some people stomach issues. So it’s very important just to research any new wild edibles before consuming them. And usually the rule is, if it’s new then try just a few! That way you can check to see that you don’t get an adverse reaction. I always advise people to get to know the common poisonous ones so you can easily identify these in the field and carry some form of guide book or have access to online resources to ensure a positive ID. If in doubt leave it out! Young ink caps are another good one as are the hedgehog mushrooms which have spine like appendages under the cap instead of gills or pores. Investigate the various features and names of the mushroom as these are key to identification.

Other edibles around are nuts such as sweet chestnut which are abundant this time of year and can be either eaten raw, roasted or dried out and powdered to add to soups etc. Hazelnuts are still around but you have to beat the squirrels to them as are cobnuts which are very similar. If your lucky you can find English walnuts which again you’ll need to beat the squirrels to.

Deaf nettle is everywhere at the moment and looks like stinging nettle but is usually lower growing and normally has cream coloured flowers and the plant is actually a member of the mint family who’s key feature is a square stem and has no sting. Only take the top four leaves as lower ones are less tender and the flowers  are edible too.

Plantain, both broad leafed and narrow leafed are a great wild edible that are available all year round and can be cooked just like cabbage.

Shepherds purse is very common and another edible that’s around all through the year. The basal leaves which are the ones growing right close to the ground look very similar to dandelion leaves and can used in salads and the top parts have tiny white cruciform flowers 4 petals in a cross shape which only grow on the very tips of the stems. Under these are it’s unique identifier which are tiny green heart shaped seed pods which gives the plant its name as shepherds used to carry heart shaped purses. Another very common plant around this time of year and throughout most months is sticky weed or cleavers which can be steamed or added to soups etc.

Seeds from various sedges can also be collected and dried to add to soups or used in bread making and even ground down to make flour but that’s time consuming!

Acorns from the oak trees can be collected but these have to be processed by flushing them numerous times in water or steaming and rinsing to remove the high tannin content. Red Indians used to put them in running water fir a few day’s to remove these tannins then dry them and grind them to make flour for flatbreads.

Before any foraging you need to research and then go out looking for the ones you think you can ID and slowly build up your knowledge over time.

Going out with someone who already has that knowledge and can show you the identifying features out in the field greatly speeds up this process.

Article contribution from West Midlands Foraging Group

West Midlands Foraging Group organise Foraging walks most weekends places. If you’re interested in a Foraging Walk contact them via their Facebook page at

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