Out of all the varieties of wild mushrooms, wood blewit is near the top of the list when it comes to popularity and preference.
Their exotic purple color when young adds an elegant touch to any dish.
Not only this, but their strong flavor with a distinct warm orange or wine-gum aroma can turn out to be a real winter treat for all mushroom lovers.
Most common in the United Kingdom and Europe, wood blewits can also be found in temperate parts of North America.
So, if you would like to give wood blewit foraging a shot, this informative guide is for you. It covers everything that you need to know regarding wood blewits.
Below we will give some tips on how to identify wood blewit mushrooms. But the information we provide below is only a starting point. NEVER consume any mushroom unless you are absolutely sure of its identity. Every year people die after consuming poisonous mushrooms. And with some species, just one mushroom is enough to kill you.
If you are new to mushroom foraging, be sure to run your finds by someone who is experienced in foraging for mushrooms. If you are in the US, Canada, or Mexico, the North America Mycological Association (NAMA) has clubs in many cities and towns, and it is likely that there is a club near you. Visit their website to learn more.
Always carry a good field guide when you are looking for mushrooms. We are currently recommending Mushrooming Without Fear: The Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Safe and Delicious Mushrooms.
Two excellent mushroom field guides — if you can find them — are the Peterson Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America and the National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. Both are out of print, but you may be able to find a used copy on Amazon.
While our articles provide a great overview, please don’t rely solely on the internet or a mushroom identification app to identify a mushroom. This isn’t a subject on which to take shortcuts.
With all that said, here is our overview of wood blewits and how to identify them.
How to Identify Wood Blewit Mushrooms
Wood blewits are cool-weather mushrooms and come with a standard mushroom shape. As far as their different parts go, they have a simple cap, thick, stocky stalk, and tight gills. You won’t find any ring around the stalk. The cap is smooth and has leaf litter stuck to it. However, it isn’t slimy. Moreover, if you see the cap’s edges have turned wavy, it means the mushrooms have aged.
- Popular Names: Blue Cap, Blewit, Blue Hat, Blue Leg
- Scientific Name and Meaning: Lepista Nuda is a Latin name. Lepista refers to Goblet, and Nuda is derived from Nudus, which means naked or stripped of cover.
- Range: Most commonly found in the United Kingdom and Nothern Europe, also found in North America
- Season: From October to February. Wood blewit mushrooms appear during that time of the year when you think that the year’s foraging season is over. In fact, wood blewit only appears after a light frost.
- Habitat: Wood blewit is a saprobic mushroom that is found on leaf litter in woodland, grassland, gardens, on compost heaps, or even under hedges. You can find them in both ways – individually as well as in small groups.
- Cap: The flashy cap of wood blewit is around 5 to 15 cm wide. It is violet in color, which changes to tan brown from the center as it dries or ages. It grows as convex with a bump, which flattens with age. Even the edge of the cap turns wavy with age.
- Gills: The gills attached to the stem in wood blewit mushrooms are initially lilac that fades to buff with age. Some of them look unconnected, while others run partway down the stem.
- Stem: The stem is bluish-purple in color and is also a bit fibrous. Although its base is very soft, this robust stem is 1.5-2.5cm wide and can reach 5-10cm in height.
- Flesh: The flesh of wood blewit is either purple, blue, or lilac. If you see it white in the middle, it means the mushroom has begun to fade with age.
- Spore Print: The spore print color ranges from off-white to pale pink. You can get an accurate spore color by scraping them thoroughly into a small pile.
- Smell: It is fragrant. You’ll get a perfumed or floral-like smell from wood blewit mushrooms.
- Taste: The taste is mild and sometimes even bitter. You can experience a solid, meaty texture when they are fairly dry. But they can hold a lot of water. Some people have experienced gastro-intestinal distress from raw wood blewits, so be sure to cook them before eating them.
Which Mushrooms Are Wood Blewit Look-a-Likes?
Wood blewit mushrooms can be confused with several different mushroom types, including the ones below:
- Cortinarius Violaceus or Purple Webcaps: They may look similar, but at the same time, it is fairly easy to distinguish between them. These webcaps not only lack the perfumed scent but also have sturdier stems and rust-brown spores. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to check the spore print. If it’s blewit, it’ll have creamy white to pale pink spores. If it’s webcaps, it’ll have rusty-brown spores.
- Clitocybe Nebularis or Clouded Agaric: These mushrooms grow in the same habitat. They also have a similar height as wood blewit. So, how will you distinguish between them? Check the cap. The clouded agaric cap is grey-brown and has pale cream gills. On the other hand, wood blewit’s cap is violet in color and has lilac gills.
- Lepista Sordida or Sordid Blewit: They are very similar to wood blewits and are even edible. However, they are generally frailer with a thinner cap flesh and a thinner stem.
Garnhami, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
What Are the Benefits of Wood Blewit Mushrooms?
- There have been various animal studies that suggest that the blewit extract can be made useful for immunotherapy treatments for certain types of cancer.
- In another research project, mice were fed high-fat diets, and researchers found that extract of wood blewit mushroom protected them from the changes associated with Type II diabetes.
- Fungal extracts may have the antioxidant potential to fight against certain microorganisms, including various types of bacteria.
- Above all, wood blewit mushrooms are considered to be extremely healthy for the diet. They have zero cholesterol, high in certain micronutrients, including thiamine, and are low in fats and calories. They are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. A mix of sodium and potassium aids in regulating blood pressure, which, in turn, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Jörg Hempel, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons
Preserving and Cooking Wood Blewits
One good thing about wood blewits is that you can preserve wood blewits for later consumption. While some people dry them, the best way to store them is to fry them first, and then store the cooked mushrooms in the freezer (do not forget to seal them in freezer bags before storing them).
Never consume wood blewits in raw form as they can cause gastrointestinal problems. Some people have also reported minor digestion issues with the cooked wood blewits. So, it is highly recommended to cook them thoroughly and start with a small amount, especially when eating them for the first time.
Wood blewits tend to contain a lot of water. While cooking, be sure to drain off this surplus liquid so that you end up frying and not boiling them. You can sauté them however you prefer, and serve them with different types of meat or poultry.
The typical mushroom-like aroma and pleasant taste of wood blewits work best for making omelets, soups, sauteed, breaded as well as fried dishes. You may even consider them using in a pasta or risotto dish.
Here is an easy-to-make recipe for wood blewit mushrooms in butter.
- 16 oz wood blewit mushrooms
- 1/4 cup of butter for sauteeing, plus more as needed
- 1 yellow onion
- A bunch of parsley
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- Clean and wash the wood blewits thoroughly
- Chop the onion and sautee it in the butter
- Once the onions have softened a bit, add the blewits to the onions
- Once onions and blewits are both soft, add sour cream
- Stir the mixture
- Season it with spices, including black pepper and nutmeg
- Remove it from the stove
- Sprinkle finely chopped parsley while serving
Identifying wood blewits is fairly easy if you know what to look for. But always stay safe while foraging for any mushroom. There are some really deadly ones out there, so it is best to go mushroom hunting with an experienced mushroom forager to ensure that the mushrooms you pick are safe and edible.
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