Collecting wild mushrooms is like playing golf: a good physical condition is required, the ability to concentrate and tons of good luck. To fill up a basket of Queen boletes is like winning the Master of Augusta without wearing the green jacket. So put on your working clothes and go find these excellent species of wild mushrooms in Cazorla, Segura y las Villas Natural Park.
These three mountain ranges of Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas, being the biggest Natural Protected Area of Spain, harbor 1,400 species of mushrooms.
Most of them are edible and able to compete with the best ham or cheese. Among those, there are 8 of them that are excellent.
Nattule tell you which ones and where to find them:
1. Saffron Milk Cap Mushroom
The most sought wild mushroom is easy to identify due to the orange cap and the darker concentric rings. When you cut the stipe, a reddish liquid impregnates the knife. There are 4 different subspecies (Lactarius deliciosus, Lactarius sanguifluus, Lactarius semisanguifluus y Lactarius vinosus) with a common ground: all of them are highly appreciated for those who delight with these delicacy.
There are found in pine forests with enough sunlight and organic matter on the ground. Most of the times they are buried or hidden underneath the fallen leaves.
Alternative: If you don’t find among the pines, look for them in the nearby humid areas, like in a recent water stream.
2. Poplar Field Cap, Agrocybe cylindracea
This early bird mushroom is the first one in appear, easily found in humid areas. Sometimes appears before autumn begins, even sometimes during springtime.
Its cap is brown and ovoid with white gills that darken as time passes. It has a white and fibrous stipe with a little brownish ring. Notice also the holes in the membrane that makes it unmistakable.
They are always found at the foot of black poplars and old poplars.
3. King Trumpet Mushroom, Pleurotus eryngii
It is a spring and autumn mushroom mainly located in meadows with abundant field eryngo.
Its cap would not be out of place at Ascot racecourse: it is caved in the center but flat on the sides, and dark brown color. Its stipe is white and strong. Their gills reach the center. You’ll recognize them by their pleasant smell.
Look for it where field eryngo is found. They are totally related, so, if the plant is not by it, then is not the right mushroom.
4. Monk´s Head, Clitocybe geotropa
This mushroom grows forming lines. If you find them, congratulations: is one of the best ones ever to find.
You will identify it by the unmistakable shape of its pileus and the shape of its cap, ochre color also in the base.
5. Queen Bolete, Boletus aereus
Chubby shaped, the inside is much better than the outside. It’s one of the prefered ones by the mushroom collectors and one of the most valuable boletes of southern Spain. It has a convexed dark brown cap and ochre and wide stipe. Its inside is always white. Look for it among Portuguese and evergreen oak woods.
6. Parasol Mushroom, Macrolepiota procera
It looks threatening, but is not poisonous at all. On the contrary, is one of the most delicious ones, and it can be found in any habitat.
Its cap is soft yellow color. It can have scales on the top and be of 30 centimeters diameter. So, it does not try to hide himself.
To make sure you have found a parasol mushroom look its striped base and the double ring, and measure its cap. Should be of more of 10 or 15 centimeters. Use your sense of smell: this species gives off a very nice scent of cereal. So you would not get wrong and take its cousin the shaggy parasol mushroom, M. rhacodes.
7. Gray Knight, Tricholoma terreum
Is one of the most well known and collected mushrooms, although if you collect a similar specie it will not seem so delicious to you. Make sure its cap is dark grey and has a velvety touch. Its diameter is not more than 8 centimeters. It’s a fragile mushroom and is located among pine forests.
8. Caesar’s Mushroom, Amanita caesarea
Is the forest queen because of her excellent taste. So much so it was the prefered one of the Emperor Julius Caesar.
You can find them in two different growing stages:
During the early stage looks like a yolk coming from an egg. It’s the only mushroom with this look in its early stage.
In the adult stage its orange cap can be 20 centimeters diameter. The gills are yellow and the ring is stretchmarked.
Like all the amanitas, its base is covered by a sack, so it is mandatory to cut the complete base but in a very carefully way to not damage the mycelium.
Mushrooms play find-and-seek with collectors. Here some clues to find them in Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park.
Sierra de Segura
Among the three mountain ranges, this is the one harbouring more mushrooms, mainly located on high areas. Above 1,000 meters is where the ideal conditions of humidity and temperature, along with organic matter, contribute to the growing of them.
Nattule explains two different routes where you can find them:
Spots Near Villages
La Capellanía (Hornos), Río Madera (Segura de la Sierra), Los Anchos, La Venta Rampias y Prado Maguillo (Santiago-Pontones) are spots where you will find them. Also in the high area of Siles town, crossing in the Acebeas road. It is also possible to find them on your way towards El Puntal, on the trail leaving the village.
On those areas of pine forests the saffron milk is abundant. It’s not difficult to find as well some Queen bolete and parasols.
Campos de Hernán Perea
King trumpet mushrooms are abundant in that area. To this lunar landscape you can arrive by a trail from the small village Don Domingo at Santiago-Pontones. If you can arrive there by 4×4 much better, but if you prefer to walk, just park at the village, take your basket and enjoy the walking.
Coming from Sierra de Cazorla, take the road from Vadillo Castril to Rambla Seca, through Nava de San Pedro, where from the other side, the Campos de Hernán Perea path begins.
Sierra de las Villas
The highest areas are mushrooms residentials. They like the continental environment of that territory. In particular, the route from Mogón to Charco de la Pringue, bordering El Tranco Dam, is full of spots where this gift from Mother Earth grows.
To number a few spots: Fuente de los Cerezos, Peinero Cave, Aguascebas Dam, Recreational Area Gil Cobo and La Osera. All of them have the ideal conditions of humidity and ground to grow any type of mushrooms.
Traditionally, only saffron milk cap has been collected here, but because of its diversity of habitats, harbours a big amount of different ones.
This mountain range is the less known and visited of all the Park. Two good reasons to discover it while you enjoy of your mycology hobby.
Sierra de Cazorla
Near the town of Cazorla, between Riogazas and the Montesión Monastery, reachable by the San Isicio path, you can find different types: gray knights, saffron milk caps and King trumpets.
Near the village we find a small river of barely 10 kilometers long, called Cerezuelo. By its shore you can find some mushrooms, although best areas are found by the Guadalquivir River Spring.
There are 3 different routes:
Starting from the bridge of Herrerías to Vadillo-Castril, go to the stream of Habares or climb the dirt track that crosses the spring of the Guadalquivir River and empties into Las Tres Cruces pine tree. From this place you have to go down to the area known as the Tornillos de Gualay Brook, a little frequented area where mushrooms are abundant.
You are in the spot called Sierra Profunda. You can go deeper in the area if you go towards Nava de San Pedro, where the Valdecuevas and Valdetrillo Streams flow. From there you can reach Rambla Seca check point to enter in Campos de Hernán Perea.
To enjoy these mushrooms routes bear in mind the following counsels:
Experience is a must to identify the different species. Expert ones distinguish them with a quick look.
Mushroom collector is not a hiker, it does not get amazed by landscaping, it does not stop to take pictures, it does not gaze at the horizon. Mushroom collector only has eyes for the ground. Is a professional tracker, although the surroundings might be beautiful he focuses on the important. However, he would never look for a saffron milk cap in a garbage dump.
If you wish to know more about this Park and its mushrooms, post a comment and I’ll be glad to answer you.
Now tell me. What has been the biggest mycological treasure you’ ve found?