Martinstown House and the Blue Roundheads

There exists a venue usually used for what I imagine are quite spectacular weddings, the very lovely Martinstown House, home to the cutest trio of inseparable little white ducks I’ve ever seen and Iggy, the somewhat irritated turkey. I wasn’t there for a wedding, but for glamping, being fortunate enough to visit before our now National level 3 lockdown, an experience I enjoyed very much and would recommend to anyone, at this particular site at least.

It was an absolutely fantastic weekend with a few great friends, safely outdoors with clear autumn perfection for our first evening and day, a huge moon and stars in the night sky, trees laden with Autumn plenty, apple pressing, good food cooked, a tournament, amazing company, fires spritzing miniature pyrotechnics before settling to deep rustling embers and peace and contentment in a warm cosy bed, hiding from nippy air and the strangely satisfying sound of rain and falling acorns on canvas. It was pretty much exactly what I needed and I really wish I was still there. I could lockdown there, right?

A couple of things of note: The oaks are having an astonishingly heavy acorn crop this year. There would be many a fat pig wandering around if they were let. Rosehips and haws are abundant, as are sloes and their cousins. Everything is fat and plentiful, though the yew berries were a lot more scarce, in Martinstown at least, than I was expecting. It also has a particularly fine Turkey oak with its fat Russian hatted acorns and knopper galls.

Blue Roundheads may sound vaguely like a very cold invading army gatecrashed the weekend, but really they were the my first discovery of a blue fungus, while I was there wandering around taking in their woodlands, the gorgeous pathways and gardens and the serene and pretty outdoor wedding venue. Be still my little nerdy heart. Blue Roundheads can be found in mixed woodland and grassland, in this case it was on bark mulch in a flower bed.

In my last post I stressed that it can be very difficult to identify mushrooms from one photo because there is a great degree of diversity even in one particular type of mushroom. I think this one illustrates this very well – these are all Blue Roundheads except the white ones with orange-y centres at the bottom left of picture 5. See how much they change over the lifespan, from the dark, dense caps of their youth to the copper and blue blown out tops of older age.

Scientific NameStropharia caerulea
SeasonAugust to December
Capgently convex flattening out as they age. Quite dark blue/green when young aging outto paler blue-green and copper-tan
Undersidesgills, uncrowded, white turning greyish brown
Stemwhite with blue, flecks of scaley growth, has a white long lasting ring that discolours brown with spores.
Sporespurple brown
Edibility POISONOUS – not deadly, but you might wish it was with the gastric upset.

IMPORTANT – POISONOUS MUSHROOM – DO NOT EAT.


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