Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Greed Factor

Fear not, despite the prevailing gloom in local shops and cafes, despite the dire predictions of taxi drivers, boletus edulis, the coveted cepe did make a belated appearance.   Two weeks late compared to last year. A very long two weeks for the dedicated cepe hunter-gather-consumer.

So, as usual, there were cars parked in every gap in the woods that was accessible by road.  And in the roadside ditches, elderly persons risked life and limb (they should know better) slithering along, armed only with a hastily cut stick and a battered plastic bag.

And, as usual, in the local shops and cafes - even the hairdressers' salons - the arguments rage over whether and how to control the harvesting of this highly prized wild mushroom.  What makes people cross is partly jealousy - of the greater gathering success of some - partly anger that non wood owners 'profit' from their success on wood owners' property by selling what they have stolen.  For it is still legally theft to take wild mushrooms from land that does not belong to you.
A rare boletus triplet, the top one is actually growing on the
left hand one, found in La Chaise woods.

And, as usual, humans are attempting to control nature, domesticate the wild. Way back in 1995 an association was created, the Cepe du Perigord to research ways and means of encouraging cepes to grow with greater regularity and in greater quantity. Last year Cepe du Perigord formally became a brand name and those selling under this name have to conform to certain standards of presentation, identification, date of harvesting - and be owners of woodland. Reassuring for the ignorant buyer - and who would be bold enough to be certain of their judgment in the matter of fungi?

So far it does not look as though the cepe can be reliably cultivated though there are various theories on how to encourage their growth. Number one theory is to keep out trampling hordes of ignorant, non woodland owners. It is true that once we had fenced in part of our woodland, our 'harvest' of all sorts of wild fungi more than quadrupled.

Surprisingly, the sheep seem to do little damage to emerging fungi, even when eagerly turning over the fallen leaves in search of chestnuts and acorns.
They were not even tempted to kick at the largest puff-ball ever.

The largest vessie du loup EVER

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