In the Czech forest: 10 useful tips for mushroom pickers

We spoke to mushroom connoisseurs about the must-knows for the mushroom-picking season ahead.

Klára Kvitová

Written by Klára Kvitová Published on 23.08.2023 14:00:00 (updated on 23.08.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech mushroom-picking season peaks in September, making the weeks ahead the perfect time to hone your skills. In case you are a complete beginner to the beloved Czech pastime, you might wonder: Where are the mushrooms growing? Should you pick the entire mushroom, or cut its stem above the ground? And which mushroom identification app should you download on your mobile?

The Czechs are a nation of mushroom pickers, and they also love to pickle, fry, cook, dry, or preserve mushrooms for the winter. Experienced mushroom pickers have their own little spots in the forest, which they carefully guard without revealing their location to anyone. 

We asked professional mushroom picker Juraj Macúch and passionate amateur mycologist Vladi Sojka to share their secrets with us so that you won’t get caught off guard in the forest. 

short guide to mushroom picking

  • 1.The period of growth is one of the basic defining characteristics of a mushroom, and an indication of whether it is ready for picking. Some mushrooms take weeks or even months to grow and mature.
  • 2.Always pick the whole mushroom! The fruiting body must be removed from the substrate, because only then can you check all the features and correctly identify the mushroom species. If you cut it above the surface, you will not see features such as the calyx or the colors of the base.
  • 3.If you learn what the natural habitats of specific mushroom species look like, you won't leave the typical picking sites empty-handed. However, weather and chance interfere heavily – you can have a perfect grasp of the theory and look for mushrooms where they should be growing without coming across them.
  • 4.A good mushroom hunter should have adequate literature to consult. For the self-taught, we recommend up-to-date mushroom atlases, as long as they aren’t more than 20 years old, as the nomenclature and knowledge of edibility and occurrence have changed considerably in that time. You can supplement this knowledge with various apps, many of them available in English.
  • 5.How should beginners identify fungi? First of all, you need to be calm and focused; make notes about the surrounding trees at the collection site and take photos of the mushrooms in their natural habitat to get more context; pick a whole fruiting body or two separately, and photograph those from all angles as well. Once you get home, start identifying the mushrooms with the help of the above-mentioned aids.
  • 6.More information, news, and interesting facts from the world of fungi is available on the website of the Czech Mycological Society. Valuable experience can also be gained by joining regional societies and on guided walks led by amateur mushroom pickers and professional mycologists. Some of them have YouTube channels (mostly in Czech) with thematic videos and lectures.
  • 7.Are they growing? The growth of fungi is predicted by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute according to the development of precipitation and temperatures. Check out the user-friendly growth map here. During the growth season, the Czech Mycological Society also sends out weekly updates on mushroom growth in the form of a map to its members.
  • 8.Are you hooked on mushroom picking and thinking about selling your finds? Anyone who collects mushrooms in the forest or grows them and would like to put them into circulation or prepare products based on them must pass official examinations resulting in a certificate of mushroom knowledge that is valid for ten years. The examinations are organized by the regional health stations and are always held in the spring.
  • 9.Macúch answers on his website the most common questions related to mushrooms (in Czech). You can also find out what unique mushroom products he and his daughter Ivana develop, process, and sell through their family business Domácí houbové speciality (Homemade mushroom specialties). Have you tasted the porcini mushroom sauce or the mushroom pralines?
  • 10.Get inspired by following Vladi Sojka's woodland exploits on his Instagram profile @mushroom_hunter_cz. Using his own photos, he promotes the diversity and beauty of mushrooms, including varieties that are completely unknown to the layman.

In the Czech Kitchen is a weekly column written in cooperation with the culinary experts from Ambiente. Established in 1995, the Prague-based collective of pubs, restaurants, and fine-dining outlets has transformed the Czech culinary landscape and lent to the widespread awareness of quality food service and production in Czechia. Follow their socials or book your table at

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