Travel Photo of the Day: Foraging for Mushrooms in Slovakia

Mushroom foraging is the national pastime for many Slovaks

In Slovakia, mushrooms can take their name from a variety of sources: their peak season, their unique qualities, and a neighboring tress species.

For Slovaks, mushroom foraging is a longstanding cultural tradition. Some avid hunters (who come from all walks of life), regularly harvest up to 25 different edible species of fungi per season throughout the county’s woodlands.

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As one might expect, though, consuming foraged fungi necessitates eating with caution. Some mushrooms are toxic and a bad bite is enough to send the eater to the hospital. When properly sourced and prepared, though, these mushrooms and truffles are delicacies.

Small details in the cap, stems, and roots are clues that we might expect hunters to notice while distinguishing different species. Another helpful strategy used to identify certain fungi is a neighboring tree species. For example, the coveted dubák variety is oftentimes found near dub, or oak, trees. The same also applies for brezák mushrooms, which grow near breza, or birch, trees.

In a similar fashion, some mushroom names reflect calendar dates corresponding to their growing season, whereas others take their names from certain properties. An apt example is the prašivka, or the "powder mushroom" that "explodes in a grey puff of dust when you step on it."

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