The huge area of State Forests pine plantations provides an ideal environment for exotic wood mushrooms - prized in Europe and coveted by top Sydney restaurants.
Between late February and early May, Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus) and Slippery Jack (Boletus portentosus) emerge to be picked. State Forests ask visitors to keep clear of areas being tree-felled, park cars right on the edge of the road and remove your rubbish.
There are many colourful mushrooms and other fungi in the forest, wonderful photographic subjects but should not be eaten. When picking table mushrooms, remember, 'When in doubt, throw it out'. A map and information about the 2 edible mushroom varieties are available from the Oberon Visitor Information Centre.
Warning and Disclaimer?
Some mushrooms are poisonous. The simple rule to observe when picking mushrooms is:
If in doubt, Go without!
You do not want to wind up in hospital due to mis-identification.
The photographs and written information on this website may not be enough for a beginner to make confident decisions about the toxicity of a particular mushroom.
If you are a novice, it is strongly advised that you seek out an experienced mushroomer and obtain in-the-field guidance.
The authors, administrators and owners of this site take no responsibility for any misidentification or improper food handling which results in any adverse effects to the reader.
Exotic Wood Mushrooms
Oberon boasts over 40,000 hectares of State owned radiata pine forests. Apart from the obvious commercial benefits these forests bring to the area, they are also the source of other treasure—exotic wood mushrooms. The spores originally came from Europe when pine seedlings were transported for planting. Entering these forests is like stepping into another world. Under the canopy of the radiata pines, it is dark, quiet and littered with pine needles. It’s a lovely experience at any time of the year, but between late February and late May it is mushroom season.
Here, amidst the soft autumn rains, the exotic Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius Deliciosus) and the Bolete or Slippery Jack (Boletus Portentosus or Suillus Luteus) mushrooms thrive. The Saffron Milk Cap is a bright orange colour with distinctive darkening rings and reddish-pink gills on the underside. The Slippery Jack is dark brown on top with bright yellow spongy gills.
Prized in Europe, coveted by top Sydney restaurants, these wood mushrooms are yours for the picking—absolutely free.
Be aware that timber harvesting is often carried out seven days a week, so please keep clear of any areas where tree felling is being carried out. These areas are well sign posted and there will be heavy machinery and trucks about.
When you park your car, please park right to the edge of the road. Log trucks often use the forestry roads seven days a week as well.
Please make sure that the forest mushrooms are the only thing that litters the forest floor.
Have a wonderful stay in Oberon and happy mushrooming, but gatherers themselves must take responsibility for correct identification of edible mushrooms. It cannot be emphasised strongly enough that…“if in doubt—throw it out”. Call into the Oberon Visitors Centre before you start for a Forests NSW Mushroom Brochure.
Local enthusiast, Bavarian born Elizabeth James says there are four things to remember when mushrooming:
- NEVER GO WITHOUT A KNIFE...
carry a little pocketknife and cut the stems then cover them over with the needles so they will come again next year.
- WALK SLOWLY...
but look quickly.
- IF YOU SEE A LITTLE MOUND...
push the needles away gently and there will be your mushroom (or a pine cone she says laughing).
- IF YOU FIND ONE...
look nearby—it will have neighbours.
April is a great time to cook with mushrooms says Dean Sammut from Arena on Bent, Fox Studios in Sydney Morning Herald’s “Good Living”.
Please ‘google’ for some tasty mushroom recipes.
Saffron Milk Cap
Some of the earliest know illustrations of fungi are the representations of Lactarius deliciousus in the frescoes of Herculaneum and Pompeii. In Germany it is regarded by some as the best of all edible fungi. In china it is gathered and eaten on a large scale, and it is one of the officially recognised edible species sold in French markets. Always found growing under conifers, it is often buried by pine needles. In favourable seasons a giant can form, 10 – 30cm broad, can be often found.
Cap: reddish-orange with darker concentric zones, finally staining green in the centre, 4-10cm in diameter. Convex, soon becoming centrally depressed. Margin smooth, at first incurved. Cuticle slightly sticky or dry. Flesh soft, pale in the centre, stained reddish by milk around the edge, milk rapidly turns carrot coloured when exposed to the air.
Gills: reddish, becoming flushed or spotted with green some what decurrent and arched, narrow crowded, often branched. Stipe: how, narrows towards the base, 2.5 – 5cm long, 2.5cm thick. Reddish- orange, becoming green where bruised, spotted or pitted, dry, sometimes with a faint bloom when young. Flesh fragile. Spores: cream in mass, broadly ellipsoid, decoration variable warted or netted, and average size 8.5 x 6.5 microns.
Habitat and Distribution
Grows gregariously, sometimes in clusters, always under conifers, in woods and on heaths, on moist, but well drained, soils. Frequent in Hampton State Forest, Jenolan State Forest and the Vulcan State Forest within the Oberon Council Shire.
Best time to collect mushrooms from the pine forest is in autumn after rain. Can be from end of February to April. It all depends on the weather!
Tastes mild, with an aromatic smell, it is delicious when cooked slowly and well. Can be served in stews, casseroles, in a sauce on toast or sliced in soups. It is especially recommended when cooked with Fistulina hepatica in butter and a little stock for at least 45 mins, and then flavoured with Worcestershire sauce or sherry. It should be washed before cooking to remove as much of the milk as possible.
The Saffron Milk Cap should be cooked quickly at high temperature to avoid stewing. The stalks should be discarded.
This edible species grows in conifer woods. It has a very sticky cap which is always covered in debris and, as it is also eaten by larvae, careful cleaning is necessary before cooking.
Cap: brown to brownish-yellow, sometimes purplish, radially streaked with darker lines or of mottled colour, fading with age. Lopsided, convex, sometimes nearly flat, 5 – 10cm diameter. Remnants of veil sometimes on margin. Cuticle slimy with brown gluten when moist, shiny when dry. Flesh pale yellow or white, unchanging. Tubes: adnate, soft, short, 5-8mm. Pores: a first covered by a white membranous veil, pale yellow, finally yellowish-olive, small, simple. Stipe: stout, rather short, 2.5 – 5cm long, with a large purplish-brown membranous ring. Yellow, granular above ring, white or brownish below. Flesh tough, elastic sometimes faintly greenish at apex. Spores: clay to orhre in mass, smooth, spindle-shaped, average size 8.5 x 3.3 microns.
Habitat and Distribution
Widespread and common in coniferous woods. Australia, Britain, Europe and North-east America.
Best time to collect mushrooms from the pine forest is in autumn after rain. Can be from end of February to early May. It all depends on the weather!
It is good when fried, but will not keep. However they can be dried and used later in soups and stews. Not rated as one of the best Boleti, but is described as having a choice consistency and good flavour, and seems to be universally enjoyed. These mushrooms should be peeled before being cooked as the slimy cap may cause gastric upsets.
WE CANNOT EMPHASISE STRONGLY ENOUGH THAT YOU MUST CORRECTLY IDENTIFY YOUR MUSHROOMS. SOME MUSHROOMS ARE POISONOUS AND WILL MAKE YOU EXTREMELY SICK. A LITTLE SAFE GUARD TO FOLLOW IS ‘DON’T PICK ANY MUSHROOM OTHER THAN THE SAFFRON MILKCAP AND SLIPPERY JACK'.
PLEASE CALL IN TO SEE THE HELPFUL STAFF AT THE OBERON VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE AND PICK UP A MAP AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE TWO EDIBLE MUSHROOM VARIETIES, corner of Ross Street and Edith Road. The Centre is open 7 days a week from 9.30am to 5.00pm.
Be careful not to get lost and let someone know where you are picking mushrooms.
Be aware that timber harvesting is often carried out seven days a week in the State forest, so take notice of signs and keep clear of any areas where harvesting is taking place. Ensure you park well to the side of the road to avoid timber trucks.
The best way to clean mushrooms is to wipe them with a damp cloth.
It is best to avoid the older mushrooms in favour of the young fresher ones.
The better areas for mushrooms are where pines are reasonably mature (more than 10yrs old), which has allowed good mushroom growing needle matter to build up.
Anyone intending to go mushrooming must remember that State Forests’ roads are public roads and all road rules apply. You must have a registered car and driver’s licence, park to the side of the road when stopping, and obey all road signs.
More information: Oberon Visitor Information Centre.