Mushroom exhibition in Prachatice
Fringed Earthstar, Hare’s Ear, Chicken-of-the-woods, Juda’s Ear or Devil’s Fingers. What would you think, if you heard those beautiful but strange names? Or what about Contrary Webcap, Soapy Knight or Inky Cap? Maybe most of you wouldn’t be quite sure – but if we said Orange Birch Bolete, Toadstool, Common Puffball or Porcini, it would probably be clear we are talking about mushrooms. For those who don’t know us Czechs very well, I should add that we love mushrooms. From early in our lives, we forage in the forest from July to October with our parents and pick these beautiful gifts of nature and prepare many delicious meals from them. Therefore it is important that we know what we can and cannot pick.
All the above-mentioned mushrooms, and of course many others, were on display at the mushroom exhibition in the Old Town Hall in Prachatice. Enthusiastic mushroom pickers brought over 120 species of mushrooms and every piece was very welcome. Even the fairly common Red-capped Scaber stalk can be strongly appreciated if you have been trying, unsuccessfully, to find it for two afternoons.
Mushroom pickers visiting the exhibition also turned to mycologist Vladimír Špatný with requests to identify the samples they brought. The organizers also shared a lot of useful information regarding possible mistakes in identification, edibility or toxicity.
The exhibition was an ideal opportunity for schools to introduce children to local mushrooms. For example, there are around 10,000 species of mushrooms in the Czech Republic, of which about 2,000 are edible. Some are very rare and therefore protected by law. The most expensive mushroom in the world is the white truffle. Besides the widely known species, they could admire, for example, the not-so-common very young fruiting body of the Common Stinkhorn. It looks like a table tennis ball but when cut open, it already shows the shape it will have as an adult. And for the record – it doesn’t stink. Yet.
Children from several kindergartens also came to see the exhibition. Checking in with them later, it was obvious that they were impressed by the mushrooms. ‘There was this really big mushroom…” (a giant Puffball Calvatia gigantea, about 60 cm in diameter). ‘The green ones were edible, the yellow ones were inedible and the red ones were poisonous!’ Here, a boy of about four pointed out the colour labeling system of the edible (green), inedible (yellow) and poisonous (red) mushrooms.
The event also brought opportunities for establishing new contacts in the area and the promise of an intensive mushroom search for next year’s exhibition – if the weather is at least the same as it was this year, mushroom enthusiasts in Prachatice can look forward to an even richer catch next year. We hope to see you among the visitors.