West Stormont Woodland Group

West Stormont
Woodland Group

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC051682

Join us today to bring Taymount Wood and Five Mile Wood into community ownership

“What We Choose to Eat from the Woods” by Margaret Lear

As soon as I entered Taymount Wood, I smelt mushrooms. Across in the pattering shade of the woods to my left, a family was ducking and diving and exclaiming across the ditches to each other. I could glimpse baskets, a small dog, a child or two. Great! I thought, people foraging. Good luck! With chanterelles from a previous forage in my fridge, I just wanted to walk without expectations or intent. Looking for late summer flowers, I was taken by the large numbers of Wild Angelica growing either side of the path.
West Stormont Woodland Group

Each geometrically arranged flowerhead hosted a happy horde of hoverflies and other pollinators. I’m 99.75% certain it is Wild Angelica, an edible plant – but I’ve never foraged it. The quarter of a percent of my brain that says “But wait, it might be Hemlock or one of the other poisonous members of the family out to deceive” prohibits me, despite the smell, season and appearance.

If in doubt, don’t. I no longer take risks with my foraging.

Taymount Wood is the wood that sidetracks me, every time. Up to the right, a sunlit glade. Cross the sleeper bridge to the left – what’s in here? Horse-hair mushrooms (Marasmius … ) swarming up from the pine needles. A collection of puffballs (Lycoperdon…) in mint condition cried out to be selectively foraged. Only firm, young ones are tasty, and leave more behind than you take. The family of mushrooms which you have to be wary is Amanita. There are some deadly poisonous members, some only moderately so. Others will send you psychotic.

There’s a few edible ones. Taymount Wood today was full of Blushers (Amanita rubescens), one of the edible ones. I have never eaten it, and never will. The flesh bruises pink, which is the indicator of species – but in other respects it is too like the deadly Panther Cap (A. pantherina). Just suppose a Panther Cap happened to blush one day….. In any case, Blushers are always riddled with worms and maggots before I get near them. Today, both species were growing close to each other and the difference was obvious. I still wouldn’t risk it.

The Tawny Grisette (A. fulva) I do eat. Unlike most of the family, there is no ring around the stipe, and the edges of the cap are evenly striated as if by a pastry-cook. They were here – but it’s a socially-distanced species that only ever appears singly – and I hate to take the only one. The stench of death – but not quite death – drew me to the well-named Stinkhorns (Phallus impudica) in the ditch. Most people recoil at eating this mushroom, which exudes a sticky gel smelling like a corpse to attract flies to spread the spores. But I’ve eaten plenty – at a very young stage when they look like eggs protruding from the forest floor. There’s no horrid smell and the jelly surrounding the immature fruiting body is actually delicious. To each her own!

Sidetracked again, I met half the foraging family. Marcin, his young son (and the dog) had just found the biggest Boletus mushroom of the day. We chatted, compared notes, and I admired Marcin’s basket of Ceps, Bay Boletes and others. Marcin learned his mushroom lore from his mother and grandmother in Poland, and their preferences are the Boletus family, chanterelles and Saffron Milk Caps. He loves these woods, and values them for their beauty and food supply. The giant Boletus he said he will not pick. He will leave it to spread spores and be admired. I showed Marcin my collection of puffballs. He looked aghast. “You eat them??” Apparently not a favourite in Poland!



Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – May 2024

We are really delighted this month to start with the announcement that the winner of the WSWG April Photography Competition in the Children’s category is Dougie from Highland Perthshire. His stunning and clever photograph was taken at the head of Loch Rannoch, looking west, on Saturday 20 April. Such a beautiful, calm scene in our precious Perthshire countryside, but just look at the perfect capture of the beautiful splash effect at its heart. A truly super photo.

Congratulations, Dougie. Thank you very much for taking part in this competition and your well-deserved prize will be making its way to you very soon.

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Community Monthly Update – April 2024

On Sunday 14 April, a lovely bunch of people turned out for a WSWG Guided Climate and Biodiversity Walk in Taymount Wood to celebrate the start of the new Perth & Kinross Climate Action Hub (PKCAH) for which funding has been secured from the Scottish Government.

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Community Monthly Update – March 2024

It is a disappointing thing to have to do, but a surprisingly rewarding thing to have done. We are talking about picking up someone else’s litter. We all know Taymount Wood car park occasionally suffers from fly tipping, but it is regular littering which is more of a chronic problem, clogging the ditches, being strewn around the verges, blown into the brambles and nettles, overgrown by rank grass, buried in the soil, or crushed by vehicles if not removed regularly.

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Community Monthly Update – February 2024

First up this month, a big thank you to the Community Payback Team from Westbank in Perth who very kindly made an impromptu stop when passing to remove the worst of some fly tipping they spotted in the Taymount Wood car park in January. A heap of black bin-bags full of spent growing medium and general rubbish had been dumped near the entrance gate a few days earlier. They were unable to clear it all up in one go but are going to come back to complete the task for us. Moreover, they have offered to keep a watching eye on the site in future and clear up what they can. That will be such a help.

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Community Monthly Update – January 2024

Unusually, we’re starting this Monthly Update with a “What’s Coming Up Next” item! This message is principally for people in the Stanley and District community but we’d love to suggest all villages in the West Stormont area follow suit with their own aim of becoming a Biodiversity Village.

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Community Monthly Update – December 2023

It’s another year end and this time WSWG member Françoise from Stanley has created an exquisite 2024 calendar of “Wildflowers and Friends” she photographed in Taymount Wood this year to help raise funds for WSWG. Having gone for a print run of 50, these gorgeous calendars are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a donation of £10 (or a bit more if you wish!) with net proceeds going towards the purchase of the woods.

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