The wood blewit is a scarce mushroom that grows under both coniferous and deciduous trees in places such as Buskett and the Simar Nature Reserve in Xemxija. It is a saprophytic species that feeds on the fallen leaves of trees.
Like most other mushrooms, wood blewits appear after the autumn rains but continue to be found in winter long after other mushroom species disappear.
This species is found in Europe and North America and has been also been introduced in
where it is increasing in
Wood blewits are edible and are widely collected and cultivated in many parts of Europe where they are generally much more common than they are in
which lacks large tracts of woodland. They are very popular in Malta France, Spain
and . Portugal
They have a faint smell of aniseed and a pleasant taste especially when cooked. Some individuals are allergic to wood blewits which can give rise to indigestion and more serious problems especially but not only if eaten raw.
The wood blewit was first described scientifically by the French physician and botanist Jean Baptiste Francois Pierre Bulliard in 1790. Jean Baptiste dedicated much of his time to describing mushrooms managing to add 393 species to the important science of mycology.
The wood blewit varies in colour from lilac to purple-pink. It usually becomes darker and flatter as it becomes older. Wood blewits can be boiled to make a green dye.
Wood blewits can be propagated by placing the fruiting body (the part we see above ground) in a jar full of hardwood sawdust. After some time the fruiting body can be removed and one just have to wait for mycelia which look like very thin roots to start forming. Once the mycelia start to form the whole thing can be placed in leaf-rich compost outside and one just have to wait for the mushrooms to appear above the ground.
This article was published in the Times of Malta on 5 February 2015.