Friday, 22 October 2021

Don't Eat This Mushroom

Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

There are 39 species of toxic mushrooms in France. Not many of them are lethal, but a few of them will leave you with sub-lethal effects that might make you wish you had died. The Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus (Fr. Paxille enroulé) is one of these. What's scary is that they are abundant in the Loire Valley, in the autumn, under birch trees especially, and the species was not widely acknowledged as toxic until the 1980s, so there are still old field guides knocking about which list it as edible. Indeed, in rural areas of Eastern Europe it is still eaten by some people.

Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

The problem is that it is not strictly toxic, but rather can produce an allergic reaction that only manifests itself some time after ingestion, or suddenly, immediately after ingestion despite having eaten the species without ill effect before, so the association is not always made. It can kill, but mostly leads to kidney damage. It seems that many people can eat them without ill effect once or twice, and the reaction occurs after the third or fourth time they are eaten. An as yet unidentified substance in the mushrooms causes your immune system to attack and destroy red blood cells, causing a lack of oxygen and glucose in the brain, acute renal failure and respiratory failure. It is not necessarily fatal and can be treated if you act quickly enough, but the condition is painful and will require dialysis.

Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

It is a gilled mushroom, but is related to Boletes, which have pores and tubes not gills. I have heard of even experienced mushroom foragers not being careful enough and including Brown Rollrims in their basket of Boletes. 

Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

In France what alerted people to its toxicity was an incident where a group of soldiers on survival training died because they picked and ate mushrooms they had been told by instructors were safe. 

Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

The caps range from about 4 cm to 20 cm in diameter, convex when young but rapidly developing a central 'belly button'. Their principal and most unmistakable feature is a strongly rolled edge on the cap, especially when young. Once old they can develop a wavy edge. The cinnamon coloured cap feels similar to the nubuck or kid leather feel that Boletes have, and it goes slightly slimy or sticky when wet. The gills are decurrent ie they extend down the stem a bit. They are a pale ochre colour and the spores red ochre. They smell faintly pleasantly mushroomy.

Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

They can be confused with certain Milkcaps such as the Ugly Milkcap Lactarius necator, but a quick check to see if they will exude 'milk' when their gills are scraped will sort that out. It could also be mistaken for a Funnel Clitocybe spp, but they have pale gills and spores. Some species of milkcaps and funnels are considered edible, but most are not.

Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

They grow in the forest, along ditches and in lawns. These photos were taken in the front garden of some friends, where they have a colony of hundreds which come up every year.

Brown Rollrim Paxillus involutus, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Although it is a European species it has been accidentally introduced to Australia and other places, probably in the soil attached to imported trees.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

A Bill For Haute Couture

The Domaine de Candé, one of my favourite chateaux, has recently acquired some photos and other ephemera connected to Wallis Simpson and Fern Lombard Bedaux. I particularly liked the bill now on display on Fern's desk. It comes from the fashion house Jean Patou, and she was buying dresses, scarves, belts, buckles, bracelets, pyjamas, perfume and suntan oil, for a total of what I think works out at about the equivalent today of €40 000.

Bill for fashion items from Jean Patou to Fern Lombard Bedaux dated March 1932, collection of Domaine de Candé, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Bill for fashion items from Jean Patou to Fern Lombard Bedaux, dated March 1932.

Fern was regularly listed in fashion magazines of the time as one of the most glamorous women in the world. She was the American wife of French businessman Charles Bedaux, living a life of elegance and sophistication at their home near Tours, the Chateau of Candé.

The brand Jean Patou is now owned by LVHM, and effectively defunct. Joy, the perfume Fern was buying, had been released by Jean Patou only a couple of years earlier, and despite the Depression, was marketed as 'the most expensive perfume in the world'. It was a tremendous success right from the start, being a heady blend of rose and jasmine that appealed to many people, and the allure of wearing such an expensive product was apparently irresistible amongst those still wealthy enough to afford it. The perfume was expensive because it was genuinely expensive to make, with a dozen roses and three thousand jasmine flowers needed for each millilitre of perfume.

Fern was also very much a part of the new trend setting sporty type of women, who liked to be tanned and wore the new knitted sportswear for comfort and freedom. Jean Patou had made his name as the designer of fast living French superstar tennis player Suzanne Lenglen's wardrobe, and Fern no doubt appreciated his remarkable ability to combine elegance with comfort. He was the first to create a scented suntanning oil, and this is undoubtedly what the '2 huiles @ 90FF' item is on her invoice.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Chubby Cherubs and Demonic Dogs

The Chateau of Azay le Rideau has some nice 16th century carvings at the ends of the rib vaulting in the kitchens. Because the floor level was raised significantly in the 19th century these cherubs and other creatures are more or less at eye level rather than above head height.

Carving at the end of a rib vault, Chateau of Azay le Rideau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley  Time Travel.

Carving at the end of a rib vault, Chateau of Azay le Rideau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley  Time Travel.

Carving at the end of a rib vault, Chateau of Azay le Rideau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley  Time Travel.

Carving at the end of a rib vault, Chateau of Azay le Rideau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley  Time Travel.

Carving at the end of a rib vault, Chateau of Azay le Rideau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley  Time Travel.

Carving at the end of a rib vault, Chateau of Azay le Rideau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley  Time Travel.

Carving at the end of a rib vault, Chateau of Azay le Rideau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley  Time Travel.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

In Clover

 

Public toilets, Azay le Rideau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

The public toilets in Azay le Rideau have had a somewhat overdue facelift. Most surprisingly the 'weeds' which have been growing on the roof have been allowed to stay and flourish, and now there is a very nice little pollinator patch full of clover and other wild flowers.

Monday, 18 October 2021

The 2021 Annual Cyclamen Photo

 

Park, Chateau-Hotel de la Tortiniere, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

This year, once again, the cyclamen photo comes from the lovely Chateau-Hotel de la Tortiniere, at Veigné near Tours. The whole of their woodland is carpeted with pink and white autumn flowering cyclamens. And that's not a bad looking oak tree.

I thought I'd go for something a bit more subtle this year and try to show the extent of the cyclamen carpet. They really are the most obliging and maintenance free plant, flowering from late August to late October.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Fortress Australia may be re-opening

Then again, it may not. It appears that the re-opening of Australia is likely to be messed around by spats between Federal and State governments. However, when it does, we will expect to have visitors bringing many wonderous things. Not purely restricted to lollies, but probably mainly lollies and the occasional jar of vegemite.


It's the foodstuff of childhood we (OK - I) miss most.