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Mushroom season: has mushroom-picking fever got you in its grip?

Autumn is just around the corner and with it comes the mushroom-picking season. But anyone who likes to pick their own mushrooms in the local woods needs to bear some things in mind. Did you know, for example, that it is forbidden to hunt for mushrooms in groups of four or more people?

Whether champignons, ceps or chanterelles – freshly picked mushrooms taste the best. In Switzerland, the large number of domestic edible mushrooms regularly draws amateur mushroom pickers out into the woods. But beginners in particular should not on any account just head off into the woods unprepared. Mushroom lovers need to know the following:

Legal restrictions to protect mushrooms
Because mushrooms play a crucial part in helping to maintain the ecological balance, there are various cantonal and communal mushroom protection regulations in place that mushroom gatherers have to observe. These include the following aspects, although they may differ in the detail from one canton to another. 

  • Close season: to ensure that mushrooms have the time they need to grow properly, a close season applies during the first few days. During this period, it is absolutely forbidden to pick mushrooms.
  • Ban on night-time picking: in most cantons it is forbidden to gather mushrooms between 8.00 in the evening and 8.00 in the morning.
  • Daily quota: a rule of thumb is that not more than a total of two kilograms of mushrooms of all species may be picked per person per day.
  • Organized gathering: this regulation forbids gathering mushrooms in groups of more than three adults who do not belong to the same family.
  • Conservation areas: it is basically forbidden to gather mushrooms in nature conservation areas and flora reserves.

The regulations currently in force in your canton can be found in the local language on the homepage of Vapko (Swiss association of official mushroom control bodies).

Tips for gathering mushrooms

  • Check out the information provided on mushrooms for beginners here (in German).
  • You should keep the mushrooms you pick in a basket or paper bag while you are on the go. Plastic bags are completely unsuitable, because mushrooms degenerate more quickly in them and can even become toxic.
  • To avoid damaging the base of the stalks, the mushrooms should be carefully twisted out of the ground when they are picked and not completely snipped off.
  • Only pick mushrooms in an impeccable condition. Mushrooms that are old, very young or eaten up by insects should be left where they are. In some cantons, the wanton destruction of mushrooms is actually forbidden by law.
  • All self-picked mushrooms should be submitted to the mushroom control agency, separated according to type, before they are consumed. You will find a mushroom control office in your vicinity here (in German).
  • Never consume mushrooms raw. Ideas for delicious mushroom recipes can be found here (in German).