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Fungi in the Algarve

Sundrenched sandy beaches, sheer cliffs and just the occasional pine tree on the coastal strip do little to lift the spirits of fungi fanatics... but move inland just a few km and the variety of habitats provide vital clues to the vast diversity of mushrooms, toadstools, puffballs, earthballs, stinkhorns, brackets, crusts and many other fungi forms that make this such a special place.

Below: Amanita caesarea, commonly known as Caesar's Mushroom, is a prized edible species that can be found in the Algarve in great numbers during autumn and winter.
Caesar's Mushroom, Amanita caesarea

Grassland of good quality is scarce in this part of Portugal, although some villa lawns and golf courses sport not only true mushrooms (Agaricus species) but also Shaggy Inkcaps (Coprinus comatus) and even a few waxcaps. (Hygrocybe acutoconica, the Persistent Waxcap, is one such example.)

For woodland fungi, it's hard to find a finer venue than the Algarve. (Apart from its wonderful wildflowers in springtime, it is the abundance and diversity of the forest fungi that we find so amazing about the Algarve.) The main fruiting season runs through autumn, winter and spring - October to March and well in to April most years.

Prized Edible Mushrooms in the Algarve

With so many edible mushrooms and other fungi in this part of the world, if you are looking for something to make a meal of why settle for mediocrity? Here is a shortlist of some of our favourite Algarve fungi feasts:

Amanita caesarea - Caesar's Mushroom. Full details (opens in a new window) on www.first-nature.com...

Boletus edulis - Cep, Porcini, or Penny Bun Bolete. Full details (opens in a new window) on www.first-nature.com...

Cantharellus cibarius - Chanterelle. Full details (opens in a new window) on www.first-nature.com...

Coprinus comatus - Shaggy Inkcap. Full details (opens in a new window) on www.first-nature.com...

Hydnum rufescens - Rufous Hedgehog. Full details (opens in a new window) on www.first-nature.com...

Macrolepiota procera - Parasol. Full details (opens in a new window) on www.first-nature.com...

Morel, Morchella esculenta

Have you seen this mushroom?

Morels are marvelous mushrooms, and we are particularly fond of the so-called Common Morel, Morchella esculenta, which despite its name is far from common anywhere that we go fungi foraying. (Black Morels, Morchella elata, often spring up in flowerbeds treated with woodchip mulch.)

Despite hunting for fungi throughout the Algarve for twelve years, we have yet to stumble across this or any other members of the edible morel clan. (Morchella elata is fairly common in many European countries, and more o9ften than not it grows in gardens and parks that have been spread with wood chip to act as a mulch.

Morels are often reported from sites ravaged by forest fires, and the Algarve has suffered many such tragedies in recent years; any such locations are worth looking at in the year or two following such an event.

Morels are fairly common from Bulgaria in the east to France in the west, and so we could expect to find them in the Algarve. If you have seen these mushrooms in the region we would very much appreciate hearing from you - and if you prefer to keep the precise location a secret, we will quite understand!

Full details of Morchella esculenta, the Common Morel (opens in a new window) on www.first-nature.com...

Fungi to look out for in the Algarve

Agaricus devoniensis

Agaricus devoniensis

This uncommon mushroom of sand dunes is particularly difficult to find because it develops underground and often only part of the fertile gill surface is visible. Although edible, this mushroom is usually so ingrained with sand that avoiding a gritty meal is almost impossible. More...

Agrocybe cylindracea

Cyclocybe cylindracea - Poplar Fieldcap

This species (often referred to by the synonym Agrocybe cylindracea) grows only on dead or dying wood. Look out for it at the bases of broadleaf trees such as planes and poplars. More...

Albatrellus ovinus

Albatrellus ovinus - Sheep Polypore

Seen from the top these are pale misshapen lumps, but turn one over and you discover something that looks very much like a cap-and-stem gilled mushroom... but it has no gills. The fertile under-surface of this edible fungus consists of an array of tiny tubes with oval pores through which the spores are released. More...

Aleuria aurantia

Aleuria aurantia - Orange Peel Fungus

Looking very much like discarded orange peel the oval cup-like fruitbodies of this fungus are deep orange inside and almost white on the outer surface. Unlike cap-and-stem mushrooms the spores are produced on the smooth upper surface of these edible fungi. More...

Amanita caesarea

Amanita caesarea - Caesar's Mushroom

This prized edible mushroom is an Algarve speciality. It grows in association with oak trees. Those who eat wild mushrooms always try to gather Caesar's Mushrooms when they are at the button stage, with the orange cap just protruding from the white volva, an egg-like veil that covers the developing fruitbody. More...

Amanita gemmata

Amanita gemmata - The Jewelled Amanita

At its finest, certainly a gem of a mushroom, but definitely not one for the pot. This mushroom is known to be poisonous, causing hallucinogenic symptoms similar to those associated with the infamous Fly Agaric. The Jewelled Amanita is mainly found with pine trees. More...

Amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric

The most famous of all woodland mushrooms, this is the fairy story fungus and origin of many myths. Do not eat this hallucinogenic mushroom, and beware: in wet weather the white spots wash off making it difficult to distinguish from some seriously poisonous red-capped brittlegill mushrooms (Russula species). More...

Amanita ovoidea

Amanita ovoidea - Bearded Amanita

Some people call this rare mushroom the European Egg Amidella. It grows with oak trees and is said to be edible; however it looks so similar to the deadly Deathcap mushroom, Amanita phalloides that it is very unwise to risk gathering these for the pot. More...

Amanita pantherina

Amanita pantherina - Panthercap

Another hallucinogenic woodland mushroom, the Panthercap looks rather like a brown Fly Agaric although the stem base is quite different with the remains of the volva not making an open sac. Cap colour varies from pale greyish-brown to very dark brown, and the spots on the cap are always white. More...

Amanita rubescens

Amanita rubescens - Blusher

There is a simple way to differentiate between the blusher and other reddish or brownish amanita mushrooms: when cut or scratched the flesh of the mushroom turns pinkish-red, especially near the stem base - hence the common name. This is another woodland mushroom, edible only if thoroughly cooked. More...

Armillaria tabescens, Ringless Honey Fungus

Armillaria tabescens - Ringless Honey Fungus

Very rare in northern Europe, the Ringless Honey Fungus is quite common in the Algarve where it grows at the bases of oak trees. Some people regard this as an edible mushroom but it is easily confused with other kinds of honey fungus that can cause serious stomach upsets. More...

boletus aereus

Boletus aereus

Some people refer to this excellent edible mushroom as the Queen Bolete. Very similar in appearance to a Cep, Boletus edulis, this mushroom has a downy cap at first, becoming smooth as it matures. This is another of the many mushrooms that grow under Cork Oak trees. More...

Boletus edulis

Boletus edulis - Cep

The best way to distinguish a Cep from its many lookalikes is by the pale rim of its cap and the pale net-like pattern on the lower part of its barrel-shaped stem. Ceps grow in association with broadleaf trees such as oaks, and occasionally with pines; they are wonderfully versatile edible mushrooms. More...

Boletus impolitus

Hemileccinum impolitum - Iodine Bolete

The scientific name impolitum is not to do with bad manners but rather the rustic or unpolished form of the cap, which is often irregularly dented. Cut the stem base and you will smell the iodine that gives this edible but hardly delectable mushroom its common name. It is another oak tree associate. More...

Boletus regius

Butyriboletus regius - Royal Bolete

Many people believe that this is the most beautiful of all the boletes, and while rare in most parts of Europe, it is a fairly common woodland mushroom in the Algarve where it grows under cork oaks. Although said to be edible these mushrooms are so lovely we think it best to leave them for others to enjoy. More...

Cantharellus aurora

Cantharellus aurora - Golden Chanterelle

Smaller and much more curly than the more familiar chanterelles that many people buy from the supermarket, the Golden Chanterelle can be identified immediately by its very few shallow veins on the underside (fertile surface) of the cap. Look out for these under oak trees. More...

Cantarellus cibarius

Cantharellus cibarius - Chanterelle

This famous edible mushroom has the wonderful advantage of not suffering from attacks by maggots and so it remains in good condition for a long time. Its spores are produced on the wrinkled lower surface of the cap. Chanterelles are always found in association with trees, either broadleaf or conifer. More...

Clathrus ruber

Clathrus ruber - Red Cage Fungus

Stinkhorns are smelly fungi and this one looks very little like a horn but smells very much like a stinkhorn. Usually found in grassy places where there is plenty of leaf litter or decaying woodchip, the Red Cage Fungus is rare in northern Europe but quite common here in the Algarve. More...

Clavaria fragilis

Clavaria fragilis - White Spindles

Arising from lawns and other grassy places like pallid snakes writhing as they grow, White Spindles are gregarious simple clubs that eventually turn brown. More...

Clavariadelphus pistillaris

Clavariadelphus pistillaris - Giant Club

Looking very much like a misshapen truncheon or some archetypal caveman's club Clavariadelphus pistillaris is very common in the Algarve but increasingly rare further north in Europe. This club fungus grows in leaf litter and is most common under oak trees. More...

Clitocybe nebularis

Clitocybe nebularis - Clouded Funnel

There are many 'funnel' fungi of which this is one of the largest and most common. The specific name nebularis refers to the cloud-like colouring of the cap. Clouded Funnels are woodland fungi. More...

clitopilus prunulus

Clitopilus prunulus - The Miller

Millers make, or used to make, flour, and the floury texture of the cap surface and its mealy smell give this edible mushroom its common name. The gills run down onto the stem which helps differentiate The Miller from most of the poisonous white-capped fungi. Look for these in grassy fields and on woodland edges. More...

Coprinopsis lagopus

Coprinopsis lagopus - Hare's Foot Inkcap

Mature Hare's Foot Inkcaps look so unlike the immature form that it is hard to believe they are the same species. Furry and pure white at first they open up into inside-out umbrellas with thin caps that turn black from the gill edges. They are wood rotters and prefer shady places beneath trees. More...

Coprinopsis picacea

Coprinopsis picacea - Magpie Inkcap

With its white veil fragments patterning a brown cap this must surely be one of our most beautiful mushrooms. Often solitary but occasionally occuring in groups on roadside verges or in woodlands Magpie Inkcaps are poisonous. More...

Craterellus cornucopioides

Craterellus cornucopioides - Horn of Plenty

The common name suggest these are good to eat, and indeed, propely cooked they are. Another common name for this tough-skinned (maggot-proof) mushroom is Trumpet of Death - and you can imagine dead people sending music skywards via these strange horns. These are woodland mushrooms. More...

Entoloma sinuatum

Entoloma sinuatum - Livid Pinkgill

This is a seriously toxic toadstool that was formerly referred to as the 'Lead Poisoner' (Livid meaning lead-coloured). Very common in the Algarve woodlands this toadstool is sometimes mistaken for one of the edible mushrooms such as The Miller. More...

Ganoderma lucidum

Ganoderma lucidum - Lacquered Bracket

Ganoderma species are difficult to identfy with any certainty because individual specimens are so variable in appearance. At its best this is a beautiful bracket fungus and although used in Chinese medicine it is too tough to be considered edible. It grows on the lower trunks and roots of hardwood trees, notably oaks. More...

Geastrum fimbriatum

Geastrum fimbriatum - Sessile Earthstar

At first this strange fungus appears like a partly buried stone; then the outer skin splits into rays that fold back neatly to reveal an inner spore sac, raising it from the ground. Mainly found on lime-rich soil under trees these earthstars often in appear in fairy rings. More...

Gymnopilus junonius

Gymnopilus junonius - Spectacular Rustgill

The common name says it all, this bright orange mushroom often grows in tufts on stumps or trunks of broadleaf trees and very occasionally on conifers. Although they look magnificent they are bitter and quite inedible. This is the only large rustgill that has a ring on its stem. More...

Gymnopilus sapineus

Gymnopilus sapineus - Scaly Rustgill

Similar in size to the Spectacular Rustgill, but lacking a stem ring the Scaly Rustgill most often emerges from dead stumps of conifers or from buried pine wood in the forest floor. Rare in northern Europe this beautiful but inedible mushroom is quite common in the Algarve. More...

Helvella crispa

Helvella crispa - White Saddle

There are many kinds of saddle fungi in the Algarve forests, particularly beside footpaths. Most are easily overlooked among fallen leaves but the remarkable White Saddle stands out like a beacon on the woodland floor. Some kinds of saddle fungi are deadly poisonous so all are best avoided. More...

Hydnum rufescens

Hydnum rufescens - Terracotta Hedgehog

The term 'hydnoid' is used to describe a very variable group of funge whose spores develop not on gills nor in pores but on spines on the lower surface of their caps. The Terracotta Hedgehog has long spines that hang down like stalactites beneath its terracotta cap. These are fine edible fungi. More...

Hygrocybe acutoconica

Hygrocybe acutoconica - Persistent Waxcap

This grassland mushroom is one of very few waxcaps that can survive the Algarve sunshine for several days, justifying its common name and indeed its synonymous scientific name Hygrocybe persistens. Waxcaps are for looking at, not for eating! More...

Hygrocybe conica

Hygrocybe conica - Blackening Waxcap

Common throughout Europe this very varied waxcap mushroom can start off yellow, orange or red but long before it begins to decay the whole of the fruitbody turns black. These grassland fungi are often seen in groups, looking like shiny black brollies. More...

Lactarius chrysorrheus

Lactarius chrysorrheus - Yellowdrop Milkcap

Almost exclusively restricted to oak woodland, the Yellowdrop Milkcap gets its common name from the milky latex, which emerges in droplets from any damaged part of the gills. Initially white, the latex turns sulphur yellow on exposure to air. It is from this characteristic that milkcaps get their common shared name. More...

Lepista nuda

Lepista nuda - Wood Blewit

Growing in leaf litter in shaded woodland these mushrooms get their common name from the blue-ish (more often violet) colouring of the cap, gills and stem. Only as they age do the caps turn brownish from the centre. Wood Blewits are good to eat, although a small minority of people react adversely to them. More...

Macrolepoita excoriata

Macrolepiota excoriata

A smaller paler imitation of the Parasol Mushroom, Macrolepiota procera, this beautiful mushroom is too scarce to be a serious target for commercial pickers. Unfortunately it often occurs on roadside verges where contamination from exhaust fumes makes it inadvisable to gather mushrooms to eat. More...

Macrolepiota procera

Macrolepiota procera - Parasol

The Parasol is a choice edible mushroom found in open woodland and other places nearly always beneath trees. The snakeskin pattern on the tall stems is a helpful identifying feature. (Shaggy Parasols, which are now known to be poisonous, have smooth stems without a snakeskin pattern.) More...

Mycena haematopus

Mycena haematopus - Burgundydrop Bonnet

Snap a stem of one of these little wood-rotting mushrooms and you will see a deep red liquid oozing out. These are gregarious fungi often swarming over the stumps or lower trunks of dead or dying broadleaf trees. In the Algarve, we see these mainly on Cork Oaks. More...

Parasola auricoma

Parasola auricoma

Initially mid-brown these lovely little inkcaps turn buff except for the centres and so they look very much like little eyes staring up from their woodchip or leaf litter habitats. You may also find these inedible little mushrooms in mulched flowerbeds. More...

Parasola conopilus

Parasola conopilus - Conical Brittlestem

Standing tall and straight on roadside verges these beautiful rufous mushrooms turn pale buff from their centres as they dry out. Although inedible, Conical Brittlestems have one attractive characteristic: they nearly always appear in photogenic groups. More...

Phallus impudicus

Phallus impudicus - Stinkhorn

This is the most common of the stinkhorns - the strange fungus that so shocked Charles Darwin's granddaughter that she attacked them with cudgels thus helping to distribute the spores and ensuring that more appeared in future years. Flies usually distribute the spores. More...

Pisolithus arrihizus

Pisolithus arrhizus - Dyeball

The common name suggests that this strange ball-like fungus is a useful source of coloured dye, and so it is. An even more useful function is its ability to help trees to grow on seriously degraded soil as it is what is termed a micorrhizal fungus that forms mutual associations with many kinds of plants. More...

Pseudoclytocybe cyathiformis

Pseudoclitocybe cyathiformis - Goblet

Both parts of the scientific name of this fungs refer to its chalice-like shape. Often seen late in the year or early in the New Year in the Algarve this mushroom is reputed to be edible but not particularly tasty. It is a wood-rotting species and occurs in all kinds of forests. More...

Ramaria botrytis

Ramaria botrytis - Rosso Coral

Coral fungi are rare finds in northern Europe, but here in the Algarve we see many including this beautiful red-tipped one. The strange Latin name botrytis comes from the Latin for a bunch of grapes and we can only assume that Adalbert Ricken who named it has never seen a reall vineyard! More...

Ramaria formosa

Ramaria formosa

Varying from pinkish-ochre to orange-pink this poisonous fungus of oak woodlands (although occasionally it occurs also under pines) is relatively shortlived and its colour soon fades, but this a very beautiful coral if you find it in perfect condition. More...

Ramaria stricta

Ramaria stricta - Upright Coral

This is no disiplinarian of the fungi world - the specific name stricta simply means upright or erect. Almost pure white or very pale cream when it first emerges through the leaf litter of a forest floor, Upright Coral turns buff with age and becomes tough and leathery. More...

Russula aurea

Russula aurea - Gilded Brittlegill

Russula fungi are referred to as brittlegills because..... well, their gills are brittle! The Gilded Brittlegill is both beautiful and delicious. Unfortunately slugs and bugs agree with this statement, and it is difficult to find specimens that have not already provided snacks for woodland creatures. More...

Russula parazurea

Russula parazurea - Powdery Brittlegill

A powdery bloom covers the surface of this large woodland mushroom when it is young. Most are blue-grey but some dispaly hints of purple. The name parazurea means nearly blue (in France it is known as Russule Presque Bleu). More...

Scleroderma citrinum

Scleroderma citrinum - Common Earthball

Looking like a warty potato the Common Earthball is very variable in shape and colour ranging from light ochre to mid-brown. Often, but not always, there is a lemon-yellow tinge to the upper surface, and some people refer to it as the Citrine Earthball. These woodland fungi are poisonous. More...

Scutellinia scutellata

Scutellinia scutellata - Eyelash Fungus

The closer you look the more fungi you find. That's because there are many more tiny fungi than there are mighty mushrooms. Ideally, take an eyeglass with you when looking for the miniscule Eyelash Fungus as its cups are just one or two mm across and the marginal 'lashes' barely visible to the naked eye. More...

Suillus collinitus

Suillus collinitus

This bolete is very common under pine trees in the Algarve, while in northern Europe it is extremely rare. A similar species, Suillus granulatus, differs in having white mycelium, whereas Suillus collinitus has pink mycelial threads which are visible if you look closely at the base of the stem. More...

Trametes versicolor

Trametes versicolor - Turkey Tail

This wood-rotting fungus is tough and persistent often taking two or three years to rot away. When young the fan-like brackets are pale at the rim and are various shades of yellow, red and brown in concentric zones - hence the species name versicolor. More...

Tricoloma sulphureum

Tricholoma sulphureum - Sulphur Knight

Exactly why the stately Tricholoma mushrooms are called knights is much debated; however the Sulphur Knight is sulphur yellow, as are one or two other knights. You will have no difficulty identifying this one, however, as it gives off a pungent coal-gas odour detectable from quite some distance. More...

Tulostoma brumale

Tulostoma brumale - Winter Stalkball

Standing up like tiny lollipops these strange little fungi release their spores through holes in the top of a roughly spherical structure rather similar to a puffball. The old common name for this kind of fungus was Stilt Puffball. Look out for them in dry sandy grassland among moss. More...

Fungi for their form rather than for food

The fascination of fungi is certainly not limited to their culinary value. If you enjoy wildflowers then take a look at the wealth of woodland and grassland fungi that appear in the Algarve from October through to mid April: you will be amazed at the diversity of shapes and colours. And if you want to learn more about the quirky kingdom of fungi, we have a wonderful new book on the subject entitled Fascinated by Fungi...


We hope that you have found this information helpful. If so we are sure you would also enjoy our books about Algarve wildlife and wildflowers. Buy them online here...

Wild Orchids of the AlgarveAlgarve Wildlife, the natural year, Second EditionWildflowers in the Algarve