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 – November 2023

We are really thrilled to let you know that Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has approved WSWG’s Revised Wildwood Proposal and Business Plan for Taymount Wood. This is the first big goal achieved in our Community Asset Transfer Process to bring Taymount and Five Mile Woods into community ownership!

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Community Monthly Update – October 2023

A highlight for the WSWG Project this month has been the timely teaming up of a group of employees from Aviva in Perth with some unexpectedly lovely autumn weather for a day of corporate volunteering. On 2 October, five enthusiastic Aviva colleagues spent the day with WSWG in the middle of Taymount Wood on a range of interesting and very useful tasks, quite a contrast to their usual office based working environment.

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Community Monthly Update – September 2023

Given the distinctly seasonal change in the weather of late, we thought we would bring our Word of the Month up to the top of our September update. Psithurism: (Noun) The sound of wind in the trees and rustling of leaves, from “psithuros”, the Greek word for whispering. Enjoy your woods this autumn!

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Community Monthly Update – August 2023

This month we really want to share with you a wonderful event we had – the joint woodland picnic on 22 July with Tayside Woodland Partnerships (TWP). We pitched our gazebos in a lovely grassy glade in Taymount Wood and set out a delicious picnic spread courtesy of Alison’s Kitchen in Blairgowrie – quiches, sausage rolls and cakes galore – on portable tables kindly lent to us by Stanley Village Hall. More food and home-baking was brought by the picnickers themselves. Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, it was a beautiful day with not a drop of rain or drizzle. After lots of great chat and good food, we heard a little about each of our organisations’ respective projects and then took a walk up the main track to King’s Myre Loch.

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Community Monthly Update – July 2023

First up this month is for us to say a big thank you to a lovely group of young people from Ochil Tower School in Auchterarder who had come on a mini-bus trip to visit Taymount Wood on 21 June … and just did a litter-pick whilst they were there!! What a great example of being good citizens – enjoying the environment and taking care of it together.

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Community Monthly Update – June 2023

We want to start with a big thank you to all WSWG volunteers who helped in the Wildflower and Mining Bee Rescue Mission this spring. Many times more wildflowers have come through along the various stretches of raked verge than would have been the case had they remained swamped by gorse mulch and, as seen in the photo here, mining bees have successfully emerged where the track surfaces were cleared to help them out too. And of course the cleared sections of track make for more comfortable going again for walkers and dogs. Lots more areas still need attention, and we will keep doing what we can when we can, but thank you again to everyone who helped make a difference for nature this spring.

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