Picking edible Mushrooms in winter time in Italy. Edible Mushrooms that defy Nature and Grow during winter. What species to pick and where they live the Winter Mushrooms

🇮🇹 Go to Italian language/Vai alla versione in italiano

Winter Mushrooms are certanly atypical. There are fewer mushrooms which grow up than you might find in summer or autumn seasons; curiously, mushrooms in winter time in Italy are still easily foraging though, you have to know where and when to look, when and where to go and which are the most popular winter Mushrooms.

In this visual guide, the edible Mushrooms that defy Nature and Grow during winter. What species to pick and where they live in Italy the winter mushrooms.

► About me

My name is Angelo Giovinazzo. Since 2013 I’m a blogger who writes articles about mushrooms, weather, tourism, nature and science. Since 2015 I manage a specialized mushrooms website (, where you can find all you have to know about mushrooms, where, how and when they come out and grow up.

Porcini harvested in South of Italy/Calabria on 10th December 2017

My mushroom page ( is among the most readed ones in Northern Italy and since last year I also manage a large group of mushroom-seekers on whatsapp. Very often I come in contact with foreigners who don’t understand Italian. For this reason I started publishing on this blog my guides also in English. You can contact me by email to ask me any further information about tourist places, mushrooming or ‘bout the Winter Mushrooms in Italy.

Introduction about not native trees in Italy

First of all, let me do a necessary clarification about the Italian’s mushrooms trees.

We know mushrooms growing around or in symbiosis with some species of plants but not always all the known mushrooms trees are associated to the same mushrooms. That’s because many of those trees, which aren’t native one, aren’t mycorrhizal.

► 🌲For instance, Pinus strobus, commonly denominated the eastern white pine, northern white pine, white pine, Weymouth pine (🇬🇧 British), and soft pine, is often associated to many variety of Fungi, one for all the Chanterelles. Well, in Italy only few mushroom are associated to this not native tree (generally planted to quickly reforest some bare and rocky territory).

The Pseudotsuga menziesii, commonly known as Douglas fir, Douglas-fir and Oregon pine is another not native tree, actually very common in Italy and not associated to some kind of Fungi, Eg the Porcinis. Here you can read a list of pines by region

🌳 Red Oak (Quercus rubra, commonly called northern red oak, or champion oak) is going to be one of the most common not native tree.

This is another not mycorrhizal one. The native tree is the White Oak.

Douglas fir pinecones
Douglas fir pinecones

About hunting Winter Mushrooms

Anyway you must know, any outdoor activity requires some degree of qualification. Unfortunately, some of those requires a much better specialization. Hunting for Winter Mushrooms is one of these.

There are fewer plants which grow up than you might find in more temperature seasons. Curiously, mushrooms in winter time in Italy are still easily foraging, though, you have to know where and when to look. When and where to go.

In winter time in Italy, the climate is getting colder and colder but not so colder everywhere. The Alps and Apennine mountains could be covered with a lot of snow and most of the plants and Fungi go into vegitable rest that is they go to hibernation.

The peak season for mushroom gathering in most areas of Italy is from March to early November, but this varies from region to region. For instance, in Southern Italy and in the islands, there are rich forests of Abruzzo, Campania, Molise, Basilicata, and Calabria as well as parts of Sicily and Sardinia, where wild mushrooms can still be gathered until late in December, and ever after that during all the winter time.

From the sea to the hills there are flourishing grounds for the most popular mushrooms, some of these can also be found in Northern Italy or in the lower Alps~lower Apennines, provided, there is still no snow on the ground, as it often happens, expecially in the late Global Warming years.

Tips you have to know

The first edible mushrooms emerging from the early thawing snow are the Morchellas or Morels. In this article, however, we deal with ❄❄ Winter Mushrooms most of which are “saprophytic fungi”, meaning they thrive on the rotting woods of trees, or the rotting cellulose of plants.

It’s always necessary to buy a permit to gather mushrooms, and there are strict limits – from 1 to 3 kilos per person, per day – to the amount you are allowed.

You can find all the additional information, going deeply in Mushrooms Tips on this page of our site:



Edible Mushrooms that defy nature and grow during the winter time in Italy. The winter mushrooms

► Pleurotus ostreatus, or the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus eryngii, King Oyster Mushroom, Winter Mushroom

Pleurotus Ostreatus
Pleurotus ostreatus / The Oyster mushroom

🇮🇹 In Italy, it is a common edible mushroom called: Gelone, Pleurotus, Gradarella, Fungo della Ferla, Orecchione, Fungo Ostrica, Cerrena, Recchia.

The best months for this Winter Mushrooms include ❄ November, December, January and February, although they also can grow year-round.

The oyster mushroom is one of the more commonly sought wild mushrooms, though it can also be cultivated on straw and other media. It has the bittersweet aroma of benzaldehyde (which is also characteristic of bitter almonds).

This winter mushrooms favors the trunks, dead branches, or branches of rotting. It is a very common mushrooms around the Po Valley, but it is very common in every plain or river’s valley and is one of the few tree brackets that is edible.

Oyster mushrooms habitat

🌳 🌲 🌿 Grow up on broad-leaved trees especially on Poplar/Populus tree – English names variously applied to different species include Poplar, Aspen (Populus tremuloides) and Cottonwood (Populus deltoides or Eastern cottonwood, P. fremontii or Fremonti’s cottonwood, P. nigra or Black poplar) – Willows (also called sallows, and osiers, form the genus Salix), Morus, (commonly known as Mulberry trees, in Italy also growing wild in many areas close to the cultivated plains), Sycamore trees, Sambucus (the various species commonly called Elder or Elderberry).

It’s a tough mushroom, one that requires slow, long cooking for best texture and flavor.

pleurotus Oleareus-Omphalotus olearius
pleurotus Oleareus-Omphalotus olearius
► ‼ Beware:

there is a similar looking mushrooms called ❌ the olive oysterling or pleurotus Oleareus or Omphalotus olearius ❌ that is toxic and grow up on olive plants.


Pleurotus ostreatus / The Oyster mushroom
Special features / Pleurotus eryngii

► 💊 The Pleurotus eryngii  mushroom has antioxidants that help to keep disease away. The antioxidant in this mushroom comes in the form of an amino acid known as ergothioneine. When a person consumes the mushroom, the ergothioneine finds its way to the vulnerable areas of the body and sets off cleansing them.

These sensitive areas include the eyes, the kidney and the liver. Antioxidants are elements that reverse oxidation. Oxidation is the process that causes rotting or disintegration of substances. For instance, the process of oxidation will cause a piece of meat to rot while the same process will cause body cells to disintegrate. Body cells do not necessarily rot after oxidation, but they create free radicals which essentially are damaged cells.

Just like a damaged patch of a fruit causes more of the fruit to rot, so do damaged body cells. That is how cancerous cells spread. An antioxidant is very precious because it gets rid of these dangerous free radicals and the healthy cells are left in a healthy environment.

This mushroom also carries statins, which are disease fighting compounds. The particular compound found in the mushroom, Pleurotus eryngii, is called Lovastatin. It is a compound that helps to clear cholesterol from your circulatory system. Once the blood is free of cholesterol, blood circulation is enhanced and the body feels healthier. Read more here.

► Agrocybe aegerita, Agrocybe cylindracea, Chestnut Mushroom, Velvet Pioppino, Yanagimatsutake, Zhuzhuang-Tiantougu – Winter mushroooms

Agrocybe aegerita – Velvet pioppino – photo: Alessandro Panther Thor

Cyclocybe aegerita, also called Agrocybe cylindracea, Agrocybe aegerita or Pholiota aegerita, is a mushroom in the genus Cyclocybe which is commonly known as the poplar mushroom or velvet pioppini (🇨🇳 Chinese: 茶树菇, literally “Tea Tree Mushroom”). In Japan 🇯🇵 it is called Yanagimatsutake (Japanese: 柳松茸).

🇮🇹 In Italy it is called: Colombine, or PioppinoPiopparello from the Poplar-Populus tree, here called Pioppo.

It is cultivated and sold in USA, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, Chile and Italy. Here it also grows spontaneously on the same trees of the Oyster mushrooms that are: Poplar, Willows, Sycamore, Elder and Elms or Ulmus.

It prefers mild and humid climates, growing up from spring to late autumn, with more frequent grows right after the rain, provided there is no water stagnation; also grows in December if climate is not windy and particularly cold, that is in Sicily and Sardinia, where Chestnuts can be considered as Winter Mushrooms.

Habitat / Chestnut mushroom
Velvet Pioppino
Velvet Pioppino Cyclocybe aegerita

Habitat► it grows expecially into the Po Valley, on the River Arno of Florence and Pisa planes, on the River Tevere of Rome valley, and in every other river’s plane where you can find a  hygrophilous forest (a wood with plants growing in moist places hygrophile adapted for growth in a damp or wet environment).

🌳 🌲 🌿 Best grows especially on Poplar/Populus tree-Aspen-Cottonwood, but also on Willows-Salix, Morus, Elders.

Special features / Chestnut mushroom

► 💊 This mushroom contains vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals. It is particularly rich in Copper and Pantothenic acid which is Vitamin B5. The Chestnut also contains Folate, Biotin, Niacin or Vitamin B3, Selenium, Potassium and Riboflavin or Vitamin B2.

To help a person assess the calorie and fat intake in order to regulate weight amid other reasons. This mushroom is also recognised in present day science as having anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibiotic and anti-tumour properties. It is said to contain compounds with prohibitive properties against the cyclooxygenase enzyme, which medications such as target of Adril, Tylenol, and others try to fight too. Read more here.

► Lactarius deliciosus or saffron milk cap, red pine mushroom – Winter Mushrooms

Lactarius deliciosus
Lactarius deliciosus or Saffron milk cup – Red pine mushroom  – photo: Felice di Palma

🇮🇹 In Italy it is called: Sanguinello, Sanguinaccio. It has lots of slang names as: Rossella, Sanguinin (Liguria), Fungo dell’alpino, Fonghi dal pin, Sanguinaroi (Trentino), Rossella, Sanguinello, Pennenciole, Pennecciola, Pineggiola (Tuscany), Sanguinoso (Umbria), Apitinu (Basilicata), Cummarine (Calabria), Tron (Piedmont)

Is one of the best known members of the large milk-cap genus Lactarius in the order Russulales. The Saffron mik cap is not a cold-weather fungus, indeed it has its prime season in late Semtember, in October and early November so it is a typical mushroom of the Autumn-fall season. However, in the case of a hot Autumn and a not cold Winters it is easy to find it at the end of autumn and early winter.

Habitat / Saffron milk cup

It is a terrestrial/earth mushroom, that is, growing directly on the humus and not on the trees.

🌲 🌲 It grows above all in the woods of Scots pine, Pinus nigra (the Austrian pine or black pine) and Juniperus Communis trees. Necessarily needed an acidic soil, therefore it is absent in many areas of the italian peninsular of Apennines Mountains and generally in central and southern Italy that are characterized by limestone soils. The best areas for picking the Saffron milk cap are in Liguria, south west Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli.

It is considered the best mushroom to be grilled. This is the best cooking way to keep inaltered its excellent aroma. Best preserved under oil or vinegar. Delicious a tasty pasta flavored with a sauce of these Winter Mushrooms.

► Flammulina velutipes or Wild enokitake, The Velvet Shank, Flammulina, Yellow caps – Winter Mushrooms

Flammula velutipes
Flammulina velutipes or Wild enokitake – The velvet shank – photo: Gianni Bonini

This is a stump-rotting fungus which also occurs on standing dead wood; it’s one the most typical ❄❄ Winter Mushrooms.

To see a cluster of these splendid golden-orange caps, sprinkled with snow, on a crisp winter’s morning makes a walk in the cold air seem very worthwhile indeed. You can see them in good condition as late as the end of January, February but more generally during the whole frozen season and can actually withstand freezing and thawing. The prime season for the Velvet Shank in Italy is November, in the other European areas, in case of cold seasons, it is a year-round mushroom.

Habitat / The Velvet Shank

🌿 🌳 🍂 The Velvet Shank is particularly common on dead Elm trees, but currently it is more often seen on Horse chestnuts and Ash trees or Fraxinus, less often on Beech and Oaks as well as occasionally on wood from other kinds of broadleaf trees.

It is a quite common mushroom in northern Italy, especially along the plans of the Po Valley. Less widespread but not missing in Central Italy (especially along the valleys of the Arno and Tevere rivers), almost absent in the rest of Italy, expect in some river valleys. Very uncommon in the Alps and Apennine Mountains where the Ems are uncommon too.

► Clitocybe nuda  or Lepista nuda, Wood Blewit, Tricholoma nudum and Lepista Sordida Winter Mushrooms

Lepista nuda
Lepista nuda/Clitocybe nuda or Wood blewit  – foto: Pietro Curti (Marche)

🇮🇹 In Italy it is also known as the Fungus of St. Catherine (Funzu de Santa Cataen-na – fungo di Santa Caterina, in Liguria region), Agarico violetto, Agarico nudo; Ordinale viola, Cardinale or Cardinale viola (especcially in Tuscany). The words: ► “viola & violetto”, means = violet = color.

Grows in leaf litter in deciduous and mixed woodland and under hedgerows during autumn and winter, often fruiting well into December during mild weather. Normally in Italy it appears from September through to early December in Northern Italy, from November to Jenuary in the rest of the peninsula being one of the most widespread Winter Mushrooms.

Habitat / Wood Blewit

🌳 🌲 🌿 🍂 It grows in groups, often circles, in very humid places such as hygrophilous forest (where plants growing in moist places hygrophile adapted for growth in a damp or wet environment), very rich in good humus both in the broadleaf and pine woods/both coniferous and deciduous woodlands. It is common under 🌲 Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in rich forests 🌲 of the Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Dolomites, Trentino alto Adige, Veneto, Fiuli Venezia Giulia, Maritime Alps, Tuscan and Emilian Apennines and in the South of Italy (Scots pine) in Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia.

Wood blewits are generally regarded as a good edible, but they are known to cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. This is particularly likely if the mushroom is consumed raw, though allergic reactions are known even from cooked blewits. It is therefore important to cook wood blewits before eating, as consumption of raw specimens could lead to indigestion. Wood blewits contain the sugar trehalose, which is edible for most people.

► Craterellus lutescens, or Cantharellus lutescens or Cantharellus xanthopus or Cantharellus aurora, commonly known as Yellow Foot, and other Craterellus – Winter Mushrooms

From the Latin: luteum = yellow egg yolk, for the orange color of their stems.

Cantharellus lutescens
Cantharellus lutescens/Craterellus lutescens or Yellow foot – foto: Nada Giovinazzo

 🇮🇹 In Italy they are called: Finferle, Fiammiferini, Cibo Giallo, Galletti.
Unique species, highly sought after and appreciated, that you recognize with no difficulty for the shape of a “trumpet”, for a thin and little fleshy hat, brown and fringed with margin; stem of bright orange and internally empty.

🌲 🌲 Symbiont fungus, grows in large colonies, both in coniferous forests and in hardwoods. The species can commonly be found, above all, in some 🌲 coniferous forests, under spruce, mountain fir trees, or pinewoods near the seashore.

Most, if not all of the species, appear to be mycorrhizal, and Chanterelles are well distributed across the Italian Peninsula from North to South of Italy, as well as in the Islands.

Habitat / The Chanterelles

While in the Alp’s woods, Chantarelles are considered as summer fungi falling in dormant status during the Autumn and Winter seasons, in the coastal forests, in the Mediterranean scrubs, especially in 🌲 Conifers woods, but also 🌳 in the coastal woods of Oak tree (Quercus Ilex), and much better 🌿 in Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree) (which is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the family Ericaceae, native to the Mediterranean region), even in December, January and February you can still find many Chantharelles and Craterellus.

❄ These Winter Mushrooms, The Chanterelles, are very widespread in the Mediterranean scrubs of Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio and Campania, especially in the coastal Strawberry tree woods, during the winter season.

When warmer and If it’s not cold and snowy, Chanterelles are also common in Beech forest with acid soil but, they are more typical mushrooms of wet soils where they grow in large quantities.

You can harvest in quantity into the peat bogs. In Tuscany, they are widespread in winter in the pine forests of Monte Pisano and Monte  Serra, in Maremma, in the pine forests and peatlands of Fucecchio, but also in the pine forests of Montaione, Elba Island, Argentario and Punta Ala.

► Cantharellus cibarius or Yellowfoot Chanterelle, Golden Chanterelle – Not Winter Mushrooms

Chanterelle cibarius or Yellowfoot chanterelle or Golden chanterelle

They are among the most popularly eaten species of wild mushrooms, found and enjoyed by people all over the world; orange, yellow or white, meaty and funnel-shaped.

It has many names, Pfifferling (🇩🇪 Germany), Girolle (🇫🇷 France), Gallinacci or Galletti, Margherite, Garitule, Finferli (🇮🇹 Italy), but in 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 English countries, it goes by the name Chanterelle or occasionally by Golden chanterelle.

Chanterelles are mycorrhizal, meaning they associate with trees or bushes. They sometimes associate with mosses and blueberries bush. A lot of moss is a good indicator some may be around although they may not grow in the moss but nearby.

Habitat / Golden Chanterelle

🌲 🌲 In the early part of the mushrooms seasons, starting at the end of May if warmed, ☀ 🌥 they will be mostly around the 🌲 Italian Stone pine and Scots pine, than other trees are possible too. As the season progresses, they can be found under a wide variety of 🌳 trees with Oak and Chestnut tree, being the best candidates. Birch, Beech and Spruce support them during the Autumn season, growing in large colonies in these woods.

This kind of Chanterelle becomes increasingly rare as the cold season advances. On Alps it stops growing since the beginning of October, being not a sort of Winter mushrooms at all. From October to warmth, you can pick it only into the Thermophilic forest (The thermophilic forest is essentially a transitional zone lying above the arid badlands with Oaks mostly isolated in a wooded cleaning), or into the Mediterranean scrubs, especially in Conifers woods, but also in the coastal woods of Oak tree. No Chanterelle can be found into mountains woods & forests during the winter season.

► Craterellus cornucopioides, or horn of plenty, black trumpets, black chanterelle, trumpet of the dead – Winter Mushrooms

mushroom-black trumpets
Craterellus cornucopioides or Mushroom Black trumpet, Black chanterelle, Horn of plenty

It is a very good edible mushroom. It’s also known as the black chanterelle, or trumpet of the dead, 🇺🇸 black trumpet; trompette de la mort (🇫🇷 French), trombetta dei morti (🇮🇹 Italian).

They’re thought to be both saprotrophic (feeding on dead organic matter) and mycorrhizal (creating symbiotic relationships with the roots of plants). Their precise ecological role is not yet fully understood.

These Winter Mushrooms are usually almost black, and it is often hard to find because of its dark colour, which easily blends in with the leaf litter on the forest floor. Much easier to see when they grow near or in a mossy area, due to the contrast of their dark color against the moss. Trumpets often fruiting on the side of trails, near washes and small streams. On the edge of small streams on hills and trails,  mixed woods and low, shady, damp locations such as ponds and swamps are good places to look. They seem to like damp and dark areas.

No roaring rivers, just smaller seasonal streams. Trumpets tend to grow in the same places year after year.

Habitat / Black Trumpets-Chanterelles

🌳 🌲 🌿 🍂 This fungus in Italy, mainly grows in hardwood forests, under Beech, Oak or Chestnuts, especially on heavy calcareous soil. After a good benficial and 💦 plentiful rain, you can find an expanse of black mushrooms which grows up in clusters an large colonie.

☀ 🌥 🌦 From late summer to late autumn in Northern Italy, best places to look are in Piedmont and Lombardy in hardwood forest under Beech. Into the North Eastern Italy best into the 🌲🌲 Spruce forests. In Liguria and Northern Apennine mountains, both into hardwood forest (under Beech, Chestnuts trees and Oaks) and 🌲 Conifer forests. Through the winter, in the Central and Southern peninsula, and islands best on Oaks, Mediterranean scrubs, coastal forest and Pinewoods near the seashore.

► Tricholoma terreum or, the grey knight or dirty tricholoma – Winter Mushrooms

Tricholoma terreum
Tricholoma terreum or the Grey knight or Dirty tricholoma,  photo: (Marche) Pietro Curti

This fungus was originally described as Agaricus terreus, actually it is commonly known as the Grey knight from its discoloured gills. 🇮🇹 In Italy it is called Tricoloma or Moretto.

It was historically regarded as a good edible, but in 2014, scientists discovered that it could be poisonous. Nevertheless, in Italy it is harvested, appreciated and cooked everywhere especially in the central and southern regions of the peninsula.

☀ 🌥 🌦 From summer to late autumn, Tricholoma terreum is found all over the peninsula, where fruiting bodies appear under 🌲🌲 conifers, particularly Pine and Spruce. They are generally in quite densely populated groups though not bunched. It has also been encountered under introduced pine trees such as Soft PineWhite PineWheymouth Pine also called Pinus Strobus plantations. They may also arise in citizens parks near these trees, and grow in fairy rings. ❄ In winter time this mushroom is slytly common even in warm Quercus ilex, (evergreen oak, holly oak or holm oak, which is a large evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean region).


‼❌Some authorities recommend that inexperienced pickers avoid all grey tricholomas. Recent chemical tests show that this species may contain toxins which can cause rhabdomyolysis 💊 💉❌

🇮🇹 This mushroom is best appreciated in the Marche Region (Ancona), here it is one of the most famous and collected mushrooms, mostly in the Cesane Park of Fossombrone (Pesaro), where this fungus grows abundantly and spreads widely under Pine Black (Pinus nigra). It is equally common in all the italian’s Pinewoods, late in winter into the Conifer coastal woods from Tuscany to Sicily and it often happens to find it covered with snow.

Similar Species available and collected in Italy are:
► Tricholoma atrosquamosum – dark-scaled knight
► Tricholoma myomyces
► Tricholoma portentosum

‼❌ WARNING! There are a few poisonous members quite common in Italy, such as
T. pardinum, T. tigrinum and Tricholoma equestre (previously T. flavovirens) – Man-on-Horseback. Tricholoma pardinum, also known as Tricholoma tigrinum, has larger dimensions than T. terreum and a squamous-scaly hat. It is responsible for severe gastrointestinal poisoning. Tricholoma virgatum – streaked Tricholoma, ashen knight, is a mushroom with a bitter flesh that is distinguished by its bell-shaped hat, with acute umbone. ❌

► Hydnum repandum, commonly known as the sweet tooth, wood hedgehog or hedgehog mushroom – Winter Mushrooms

Hudnum repandum
Hudnum repandum or Sweet tooth, wood hedgehog – photo: (Piedmont) Federico Calledda

Are edible, not typical Winter Mushrooms, with no poisonous lookalikes having a sweet, nutty taste and a crunchy texture. Some consider it the culinary equivalent of the Chanterelle and some mycological associations suggest eliminating the aculeus, considered as bitter and sometimes responsible for stomach ache~belly pain and some diarrheal syndrome. It is unlikely to be infested with maggots. 

🇮🇹 In Italy it is called Steccherino dorato = golden tooth

Habitat / Sweet Tooth-Wood Hedgehog

It is a mycorrhizal fungus which grows on the ground or in leaf litter in both coniferous and deciduous forests. In wet 🌳 🍂 Beechwood it reaches full size creating long colonies, even several meters, drawing impressive stripes in the undergrowth, visible even at a distance. It can also grow in fairy rings. From Northern Italy to Aspromonte Mountain, in South Calabria, grows in very different environments.

From the Maritime Alps to the western Lombardy~mountains it grows both in Conifers woods and Broadleaf forests. It is uncommon in the Po Valley. Instead, from Liguria~Tuscany and from Apennine Mountains to Calabria, it is very widespread into the wide Beechwood forests. In Tuscany best into the National Park “Parco nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona & Campigna” on the Amiata Mountain, into the wide Chestnut tree forests, but it is very common everywhere in this Region, as it is equally common in all the forests of the Apennine Mountains.

❄❄ When the cold season comes, the winter cold becomes increasingly intense and the first snow falls on the mountains, you can continue to collect this mushroom into the coastal or hills forests which hold the warmth of autumn and where the heat of the sea comes to bring some more warmth.

► Leccinum family: Leccinum aurantiacum or Red-capped scaber stalk, Leccinum holopus, known as the white birch bolete, white bog bolete, or ghost bolete, Leccinellum lepidum, Leccinum pseudoscabrum, Leccinum scabrum, known as the rough-stemmed bolete, scaber stalk, and birch bolete, Leccinum vulpinum, known as the foxy bolete, Leccinum griseum – Italian Winter Mushrooms

Leccinum lepidum
Leccinum lepidum – (Tuscany) photo: Federico Calledda

The Leccinellum lepidum is the most common fungus Boletus/Leccinum, collectable in Italy in ❄❄ winter time.

Very often, there is confusion and mistake beetween this Leccinum and the fungus Porcino due to its obese appearance with a stalk shaped like a Porcino but with the typical flakes that distinguish all the mushrooms of the Leccium family. They are dark in color (stem that goes away when it is cooked because it is rather hard and of little gastronomic value) with a yellowish meat that vibrates reddish to the cut.

Habitat / Leccinum

⛱🍃🌳 It is a typical fungus of autumn season, growing expecially into the Northern Italy Oak forests, but during the winter season ❄ it continues to growing up in the warm forests of the Mediterranean coast, especially if there’s absence of snow and frost, into woods of Mediterranean scrubs, made up especially by the presence of Oak “Leccio” (called Holly Oak-Holm Oak or Evergreen Oak)(from which it takes its common name Leccio = Leccinun or Leccinellum) or Quercus Suber, known as Cork Oak.

Leccinum Mushroom
Leccinum/Birch bolete

Another species of Leccinum, well founded in the autumn season but still available in winter time, is the Leccinum griseum which is a mushroom typical of the hornbeam forest.

‘Till late autumn in Northern Italy and until winter time in Central/Islands and Southern Italy.

☀ All the other species of Leccinum (expecially the ones who grows under Birch trees), are more typical of summer and autumn time and they become increasingly rare at the end of autumn and are absent in winter time.

If you want to collect Leccinum in Italy during the cold times, you should look at them into the Oaks woods or forest of Tuscany-Maremma, Isle of Elba, Sardinia, Sicily and coasts from Amalfi-Salerno to Sapri and into the Calabria Region but only into the temperated coastal woods of Jonio sea from Reggio Calabria to Kroton. 

► Boletus family, Boletus aereus, the dark cep or bronze bolete, Boletus edulis, penny bun, cep, porcino or porcini, Boletus pinophilus, or pine bolete or pinewood king bolete – Winter Mushrooms

Boletus aereus
Boletus aereus or Dark cep/Bronze bolete

► Boletus aereus or dark cep/bronze bolete, 🇮🇹 is called in Italy, Porcino Nero, Porcino aereo, Bronzino, Capeniro, Farno, Moreccio, Lardaro, Reale, but it has many others slang names. As in many parts of Europe this mushroom is called “bronze” during 2014, the British Mycological Society approved the name bronze bolete.

This fungus predominantly grows in habitats with broad-leaved trees and shrubs, forming symbiotic ectomycorrhizal associations in which the underground roots of these plants are enveloped with sheaths of fungal tissue (hyphae). The Cork Oak (Quercus suber) is a key host (mycorrhizal tree).

While Boletus aereus is rare in colder climates such as England and Northern Europe, it can be locally abundant in the Southern Europe, expecially in the Mediterranean environment; it is the most common Bolete in the Oaks woodlands of Madonie Regional Natural Park in northern Sicily (not into the Madonie fir tree forests), such as in any coastal forest, wood or scrubs, in the Mediterranean basin.

Calabria-Aspromonte-Monte Cappellano
Calabria/Aspromonte National Park/Monte Cappellano – Typical Mediterranean forest where to look at the Dark Ceps
Habitat / Dark Cep-Bronze Bolete – Not typical Winter Mushrooms

🍃🌱🌳 This mushroom is mostly found during hot spells in summer and autumn, growing in mycorrhizal association with various broad-leaved trees and sclerophyllous shrubs, especially Oak (Quercus), Beech (Fagus), Sweet Chestnut (Castanea), strawberry trees (Arbutus), Treeheath (Erica), Downy Oak (Quercus pubescens) and Rockrose (Cistus), showing a preference for acid soils, that’s the reason why it is more abundant in Sardinia and Calabria where acidic-granitic soils are prevailing. Roadsides and parks are common habitats.

Boletus aereus is highly appreciated in Italy for its culinary qualities, and is considered by many to be gastronomically superior to Boletus edulis. In the vicinity of Borgotaro (in the Province of Parma of northern Italy), the four species Boletus edulis, B. aereus, B. reticulatus (formerly known as B. aestivalis), and B. pinophilus have been recognised for their superior taste and officially termed Fungo di Borgotaro. Here, these mushrooms have been collected and exported commercially for centuries.

Porcino Edulis
Boletus edulis or Penny bun, Cep, Porcino or Porcini, King bolete. photo: Manuele Villano (Milan)

► Boletus edulis – not typical Winter Mushrooms

or penny bun, cep, porcino or porcini, (King bolete in Western North America) 🇮🇹 in Italy is called simply Porcino (plural: Porcini). It has many others local slang names but everyone knows this fungus with this common name, now widely used in English as well.

🍁🍂🌲☘ It is considered one of the safest wild mushrooms to pick for the table, as no poisonous species closely resemble it. Its habitat consists of areas dominated by pine (Pinus spp.), spruce (Picea spp.), Silver fir (Abies alba) and fir (Abies spp.) trees, although in Italy preferential hosts include Chestnut, Beech, Oaks, Silver Birch and Quaking Aspen, less commonly Hornbeam, Hazel, Rowan, Mountain Ash and Heath. Very common even in the middle of blueberries, ferns and mosses. From the Alps to Sicily porcini grows in a variety of forests, such as coastal forests, Mediterranean scrubs, mixed forests but especially into the vast beech or chestnut forests from sea level to the alpine pastures.

In Italy there are many tales in folklore about the best times to hunt for Ceps; a full moon, or the first quarter of a moon are commonly cited as a great auspicious, if not even as the necessary condition for the fungi to grow plentiful; It isn’t true! The moon has no influence on the growth of mushrooms.

About climate

🌦 A few days after summer rain (from 7 to 10) is often, when the young, fresh fruitbodies are at their very best, growing singly or in clusters of two or three, but often growing also in groups of up to 10, cut the stem when harvesting and return to the same patch a dozen of days later or more days for some more.

Leave it a week to ten days and more of the Ceps that you find are likely to contain maggots, especially when the climate is still very hot. When its gills have turned greenish yellow a Cep is very likely indeed to be maggoty.

In this case, the majority of people simply remove the maggots and then use these middle-aged mushrooms cooking them fried and breaded, or making them dry with an electric dryer, keeping them for the whole winter. Dried Ceps tend to be better commercial value. 

More infos

In Italy there are many places that are renowned for picking porcini mushrooms. Here it is certainly the most collected mushroom. Generally agreed by connoisseurs to be among the finest eating mushrooms (together with Caesar’s mushroom). Ceps are highly valued by chefs and gourmets. They can also be very expensive, particularly when fresh, although

☀ 🌥 Unfortunately, this mushroom loves hot climates, therefore, during the winter season it becomes increasingly difficult to find; however you can still find it in the warm mediterranean woods, near the sea, between pine forests and Mediterranean scrub.

boletus pinicola
Boletus pinophilus or Pine bolete or Pinewood king bolete – photo: Franco Sotgiu

► Boletus pinophilus, not typical Winter Mushrooms

commonly known as the pine bolete or pinewood king bolete

This Bolete grows predominantly in coniferous forests, forming symbiotic ectomycorrhizal associations with living trees by enveloping the tree’s underground roots with sheaths of fungal tissue.

🇮🇹 In Italy is called: Pinaiolo, Pinarolo, Porcino Pinicola, Porcino rosso, Testa rossa, Porcino dei pini.

🌲🌲☘⛰ Here it is possible to find it mainly on the coniferous forests on the Alps, but it is also common in the cooler stations of the Northern Apennines in mixed forests with broadleaf and Silver fir or spruce, and mesophilous trees (Beech, Chestnut, Maple, Big Ash). Into the centr-Central or Southern Peninsula, it is spread only in high-altitude zones, as in the cooler stations of the Calabrian Appennine (Pollino, Sila and Aspromonte) where soils are acid and granitics.

🌥 🌦 ❄ This large mushroom appear generally in summer and autumn, growing up especially when the climate is cool or cold. When the winter season is both not cold and snowy this mushroom grows again in November and December.

Hygrophorus russula, or pinkmottle woodwax, false russula and russula-like waxy cap – Winter Mushrooms

Mix of mushrooms Chanterelle/Russula, Hygrophorus russula red and white

🇮🇹 In Italy is called: Lardaiolo, Lardaiolo rosso (Red Agaricus) or Lardaiolo bianco (White agaricus), Agarico vinato, Scimunin, Giandulin, Sanguinello.

White or Red, they are among the most appreciated mushrooms of the Central Italy populations, which often collect them massively (without affecting the presence of any other fungal species). Anyway, they are generally consumed everywhere in Italy.

This is usually preferred to others mushroom, because it is very easy to recognize. It seems to be a fungus painted in a coarse way with brush-colored fuchsia on a whitish background.
It is founded almost always under the leaves or more often, slightly buried in the humus, which is the reason why it is often dirty after harvesting.

About Climate and Habitat / Pinkmottle woodwax

🌥 🌦❄ It is a typical spring and autumn mushroom, but in the presence of endless summers with a warm autumn they are still going on during the winter time, (result of Global Warming) it becomes easy to find even during December, and so on, especially in the maritime or Mediterranean thermal forests of Eastern Liguria or Tuscany’s and Lazio’s Maremma.

🍃🍃🌳🌲 Its habitat consists of areas dominated by the Mediterranean scrubs, Black Pine, Italian Stone Pine, Aleppo Pine, Cork Oak, Holm Oak (evergreen Oak), other kinds of Oaks, Carob tree, Strawberry tree, Manna Ash, Holly tree, Rockrose (Cistus), Lentisk/Mastic and Threeheath.

Infundibulicybe geotropa, or the trooping funnel or monk’s head – Winter Mushrooms

Clitocybe Geotropa
Clitocybe geotropa/Infundibuclicybe geotropa  or trooping funnel or monk’s head – photo: (Lazio) Tommaso Lezzi

🇮🇹 In Italy is called: Ordinale or Cimballo, Brumino, Brumaio, Cerchio delle Streghe and many others local names.

🌦 Trooping funnel is found in mixed woodlands often in troops or fairy rings, growing especially in grassy clearings, in autumn. Often founded also in warm winter time; it has a complex mycelium which can expand it self for many miles and survive for hundreds of years.

It is abundant and widespread in Europe. In Italy it grows mainly in the meadows and plain pastures, then in the Po Valley and over the plains of the Center and Southern Italy.  Its habitat consists of areas dominated by the Bramble – blackberry bush (Rubus fruticosus) – the Prunus spinosa (blackthorn, or sloe). It isn’t a forest mushroom.

See also:

Mushroom hunting in Italy

Mushroom hunting in Italy, gathering edible mushrooms into the wild in Italy. Where and what are the most beautiful forests and Parks in Italy?






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