Secretive spore shooter prized by gourmets

Wolsingham, Weardale We were about to give up when we spotted the first morel, its convoluted, toffee-coloured, cap not much larger than a golf ball

Every winter this gently sloping bank on the outside of a bend in the Wear is swept clean by flood water. When spring arrives buried plant life reasserts itself through layers of sandy silt deposited when the river has swirled through the alders.

First the snowdrops spear through the surface. Last time we passed this way yellow star of Bethlehem flowers had appeared among emerging wild garlic leaves. On this day, less than a month later, the vegetation was a waist-high mosaic of butterbur, sweet cicely, ground elder and cranesbill leaves.

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