We went mushroom picking this Saturday, and I’m writing this especially for Earthstar, whose blog about “micro-nature” I hugely enjoy! I never thought I’d be taking pictures of fungi and creepy-crawlies! 😀
My brother-in-law, bless him, is a whizz when it comes to local flora, especially edible plants. Every winter, he goes out to the hills in the south to pick a specific type of edible mushrooms. Now, I have been raised never to touch a wild mushroom for fear of being poisoned, so I used to refuse to eat them. My reasoning was: even if everyone else eats them and gets really sick, then at least I will be able to get them to the hospital! My children love the mushrooms and have gone on the picking trips, to my initial dismay!
But, after a few years of seeing the family pick, eat and enjoy the mushrooms without any signs of illness, I finally caved in and went mushroom picking with them.
I haven’t been able to find the English name of these mushrooms, but they always grow next to a plant called Giant Fennel. This type of fennel is poisonous, so the cattle that roams the hills leave them alone. The plant grows long stalks, at the base of which the mushrooms form. In Hebrew, they are called “Giant Fennel’s Ears”.
We also found beautiful wild flowers:
And nests of baby caterpillars. These particular caterpillars are poisonous and later on in the year they march all over the country in long lines. The children are always warned not to touch them. I think they are the larvae of the Pine processionary moth. Quite alarming actually, as I’ve just read they can be deadly to dogs and cats!
The best thing about travelling in Israel is that you constantly stumble across historical sites and excavations. It is actually hard to find a place where there aren’t any remains of ancient cultures. In this area, there are bell caves, where chalk was once excavated, and ruins of Roman, Byzantine and ancient Jewish towns.
What I love seeing most in this area is this old mosaic floor:
It’s so beautiful and so well-preserved! Sadly, the human figures in the mosaic have been erased by later Arab settlers in the town, as it was against the laws of their religion to depict people.
So that was a very interesting trip! And yes, we did eat the mushrooms last night and tonight, and no, we didn’t get sick. Phew!
Hope you had a good weekend, too! 💚