Wood Blewits (Lepista nuda) may often be found growing on the edges of the paths and gravel tracks that intersect the large areas of mixed woodland in the New Forest.
They are called Pied Bleu in France where they are also common.
They can be seen fruiting later in the year than many other mushrooms – so late autumn or well into winter, even into the New Year. They are not even greatly affected by a light frost, if they are sheltered by the trees and leaf litter, and they don’t seem to mind fruiting in slightly disturbed places either, so maybe that is the reason they appear beside paths and tracks.
They are stout robust mushrooms with a thick stem and bulbous base, a pleasant sweet aromatic smell and a cap as large as 15cm across. They are fairly common in the New Forest and usually grow in groups and sometimes in a definite ring formation, when they may be a spectacular sight.
When young, their identification can very easily be confused with another lovely lilac coloured Cortinarius species of mushroom, which is poisonous but is less common.