A group just about to head off into the forest.
I chose to go with Jean Pelle, who lives nearby and knows the forest well. He suddenly dived off piste into these hornbeam woods.
I suspect these were the reason.
They are the fabled trompettes de la morte Craterellus cornucopiodes. Jean obviously knew they were there and my companions picked a nice meal's worth. Despite their grim sounding name, they are one of the most prized edible mushrooms in the forest, and I often see them in the market during autumn. They can't be commercially grown, so are always wild harvested. According to one of the men in my group, there are two theories about how they got their name. One is that they are black, a colour associated with death, the other is that they emerge around All Saints Eve. Several people were very envious of our haul and said they hadn't found trompettes de la morte for years.
Dead Moll's Fingers.
In any event, their name is not the dire warning you would expect it to be, and they are not as black as one of the club fungi we found, called Dead Moll's Fingers Xylaria longipes (or Pénis de bois in French). Both this species and the Giant Club Fungus Clavariadelphus pistillaris (la Clavaire en pilon) caused some interest, as they are not overly common.
Jean called these Marasme de bois, but I never picked up what their scientific name is, and I can't find anything under their French name.
They are Marasmiaceae though, so related to shitake. UPDATE: Jean tells me they are Laccaria spp (Hydnangiaceae).
This is a dog lichen Peltigera cf polydactyla, so only half a fungus (dog lichens are a symbiotic arrangement between an algae and/or a cyanobacteria and a fungus).
Wood Blewit (left) and Bruising Webcap (right).
I've been told how to cook these and survive, but I won't be putting the theory into practice.
We found several species of chanterelle (aka girolle) including this rather rare one for this area, Cantharellus melanoxeros.
A very pretty basket of mushrooms, including lots of Wood Blewits and the edible Bolet des charmes Leccinum carpini (syn. L. pseudoscabrum), upper left under the handle.
To add to my deteriorating mood, a gypsy bloke on the side of the road in the forest flagged me down and tried to scam me for some 'petrol money'.
Still, it meant I got to come home and weed the back garden in near perfect weeding conditions.