Invasive fungus takes over Latvian forests

Hot and dry weather at the beginning of this summer has delayed the growth of mushrooms, but they have started to spring up. However, there is not a great variety of mushrooms in the forests, due to the drought experienced and the fact that the forests are being taken over by an invasive species of bolete, mycologists Inita Dāniele and Diāna Meiere told Latvian Radio.

"The weather conditions for mushrooms are the main determinant for the development of the body. If we don't see mushrooms, it doesn't mean they aren't there, they just aren't ready to show up,” Dāniele said. For mushrooms to want to appear above the ground, they need both moderate heat and moderate humidity, but this cannot be excessive.

Currently, in several regions of Latvia, fungi yields are already good, but there is no great variety of fungal species in the forests. Dāniele pointed out that, at the moment, the most popular food fungus, which is in the baskets of all the mushroomers and which is often asked about, is an invasive species Aureoboletus projectellus.

“We already have reports from the mushroomers - where there used to be porcini mushrooms before, there are only these boletes. People have started to notice that the local species are really disappearing in those places,” said Dāniele.

Although Aureoboletus projectellus are edible and tasty, and worms have not yet discovered them, the mycologist pointed out that the entry of invasive species into the forest is not very pleasing.

Still, there is great natural diversity in Latvia's forests. Even experienced mushroomers are still finding new, unseen mushrooms, and they want to check what they've got. Now, communication with mycologists is most common on social networks.

There are also different applications, but they should not be used to identify which mushrooms can be eaten. Mycologists should be trusted at this point.

“If you have to ask whether this fungus is edible, then specifically for you this fungus is not edible,” said Dāniele.

The mycologist pointed out that mushrooms in doubt should not be consumed. The mushroom becomes edible when you know it in all situations – both wet and dried, small and large.

“Then you'll have no more questions, you'll recognize it and know it. Gradually, it is time to get people accustomed not to ask - is it edible? As long as you don't know the species, only ask what this is. Compare, learn, and then you won't have to ask anymore – edible or not. If you know only the chanterelle, you can only pick and eat chanterelles until you've learned other mushrooms,” Dāniele said.

She added that still there are cases of poisoning, mostly with fly agaric.

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