Mērsrags mushroom discovery a first for Latvia

In Latvia, as in the rest of the world, there are many more mushrooms than plants, however as there aren't many mycologists, new mushroom species are often uncovered by regular residents, as happened with Latvia's State Forests Northern Kurzeme planner in the Mērsrags area, according to LTV's daily news broadcast “Dienas ziņas” on January 12.

Ieva Kukle-Ozoliņa was taking inventory of the forest Mērsrags at the end of October when she accidentally noticed the interesting beige-colored, spiny mushroom by sheer luck on a bed of conifer needle debris.

"Very beautiful. I tried to photograph it as well as possible to preserve the beauty," said the mushroom discoverer.

Although now the mushroom more resembles wet cotton, it seem continue to grow. At first Kukle-Ozoliņa searched for information on the internet, but turned to the Museum of Natural History when she couldn't find anything. It turns out that for Latvia the Pterula multifada is a new species, although after publishing the image on social media many commented that they have seen this mushroom in several locations in Latvia.

“Maybe it's something similar, maybe also the same. I don't doubt that it could not even really be that rare in reality,” said museum mycologist Inita Dāniele.

Mycologists receive news about new discoveries quite frequently, especially during the July-October mushroom season, which is why not all cases are publicly known. In some cases people even find interesting species in their flower pots.

It turns out that the Pterula multifada isn't rare in Europe, but Kukule-Ozoliņas find is the first one registered in the forests of Latvia. Her photo will be included in the mushroom book that will be published in the spring.

As previously reported, autumn is the season for Latvia's national obsession of picking mushrooms in the woods. Avid foragers scout their favorite spots, but before you set off to find ingredients for a creamy sauce, it's important that you know which ones are edible and which ones will land you in hospital or a coffin.

The massive forests around Riga, by Ogre and in the northern parts of Kurzeme as great places to look for mushrooms, unless of course you're a seasoned veteran who knows where to look. People should only pick mushrooms they can positively identify and watch out for people selling bitter boletes to unwitting mushroom freshmen on market stalls.

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