Autumnal delight Neither plant nor animal: simply a mushroom

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Mushroom gathering is a favourite autumn activity in Switzerland. Markus Flück has been fascinated by these little wonders of the natural world since his childhood. He is just one of the many people who go hunting fragrant fungi.

Most people will know, or at least have heard of, edible mushrooms such as chanterelles and boletes, or toxic varieties such as the Death Cap and the Fly Agaric.

In Switzerland there are thousands of species – 5,500 to be exact. Up to 3,000 of them appear every year. An official mushroom expert, Flück knows many of them. He has years of experience as a gatherer and inspector, and is the author of a range of books on the subject.

He spends much of his spare time on his passion. He hunts, gathers and identifies mushrooms, then experiments with them in his kitchen. He has also built up a considerable photographic archive over the years.

The 150 most common species in Switzerland are presented in his new book, "Pilzführer Schweiz" (The Swiss Guide to Mushrooms); edible mushrooms, poisonous varieties, toxic lookalikes and the most important protected species.