Romania: Apold – Never Eat an Amanita

June – August 2016

Fortunately, nobody does. We’re welcomed into the woods above the final Transylvanian village by the most notorious species in European biodiversity: a death cap Amanita phalloides. Eat this, and you will need a liver transplant…at best.

Death cap2

Gathering medicinal plants is a common activity in Transylvania; I’ve met many elderly women doing just this while I’m out on my mammal surveys. But as with most things in life, you do need to know what you’re doing. Apart from highly poisonous fungi, these hills also host deadly nightshade.

Deadly nightshade

Going back to the mycology, we note many boletes, some of which are edible.


So, Apold. I don’t remember much about arriving here. I had a headache for a full week in Daia and arrived in the final village desiring nothing except sleep. The novelty of the campground wakes me a bit – it is actually inside the parameter of a fortified church. The students are based in the towers, but I’m sticking to my trusted tent.

The village is modern enough to contain car noise and German tourists. There is an ‘end of season’ air to the work this week and my main ambition is not to lose any more cameras. Trailcam 4 gets special treatment of course – we leave it on a track next to some huge bear tracks.

The transects are laced with electric fencing, but I find mammal sign before even leaving town: badger fur caught on wire.

Badger fur

Going higher, we find some very welcome mammal sign – bear scat!

Bear scat4

The geography is for the adventurous spirit; the Great Thicket of Apold remains in our mind for many days. We achieve the gold standard of Apold by climbing right through it, but it’s so hot, and transect after transect is starting to blur into one.

Apold thicket

But with a few surprises – a beautiful slow worm greets us. This is not a snake, but a harmless legless lizard.

Slow worm

Time rolls on. The final survey is only days away.

5 thoughts on “Romania: Apold – Never Eat an Amanita

  1. Adele, most interesting! I wonder who was the first to try these things! “Oh dear, don’t eat that one it made Johns peter fall off!” I suppose it was the acolytes of the Healers. Poor Souls! Thankfully they weren’t in the job for long!
    Ah, and a nice shot of Bear Poo. Hope nobody stepped in it!! Cheers.


  2. Back in old country I was sure about only two species of mushrooms: chanterelles and parasols (macrolepiota procera). For everything else I would ask my uncle who had a certain knowledge about funghi. Over here in Canada, I am not taking any chances…


    1. Yes, there’s not much leeway for errors when it comes to wild fungi. Sadly, I have heard that some east Asian immigrants to the US have died after gathering fungi in their new neighbourhoods.

      Gathering edible mushrooms has been restricted in parts of the UK because the sheer level of interest has started to become a conservation problem.


      1. As far as I know (I might be wrong, though), it is prohibited in BC’s back country too, but some mountain hikers are doing that, anyway. I don’t mind as long as they leave the smaller ones and not harvest all of them…


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