Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day Trip to the Murgia, 3

Besides eating and enjoying the scenery, the declared objective for our trip to the Alta Murgia was to go mushroom hunting. Our friend, Francesco, is an expert mushroom hunter and this area is famous for its cardoncello mushrooms. The photo above is of a ferula plant, which is native to this area and can grow up to 4 meters in height. When these plants die, mushrooms often grow at their base. Our walking sticks, seen in yesterday's photos, were dried ferula stalks.
Another plant we were hunting for was wild asparagus. In the photo above, you can see some growing out of this dead tree stump.

We all kept our heads down and our eyes open in the search for mushrooms and asparagus, but the sharpest eyes belonged to my older son in the yellow shirt here. He found two large cardoncellos and several asparagus plants.

Another thing we had to keep our eyes open for, to avoid, rather than to hunt, were these innocuous looking little caterpillars, called Processionarie in Italian because they travel in single-file, as if they were in an Easter procession. They damage pine or oak trees, depending on what type they are, and can be quite dangerous for humans because they cause allergic reactions, ranging from rash to respiratory problems. There were hundreds of nests all through the fields, but we kept well away from them!


Rosaria Williams said...

Lovely pictures. Your boys are quite adventurous! Did you find the mushrooms?

VP said...

Nice exploration and interesting images. I never saw so close the processionarie alive. I remember that when my kid was in preschool, they can't play outside in the garden until these little devils where shooted down the pines with some kind of poisonous shell.
They look so cute here...

Kia said...

Ciao! I saw your link @ Trieste Daily Photo - Wow, beautiful photos! :) Cool shot of the "processionarie" :D Will be back! Have a happy day! Cheers from Scotland (but I'm Italian).

Anonymous said...

I really like the last image. With my breathing problems I would not be able to associate the with the caterpillars.

StoreyJohnsons in Sud Italia said...

So that's what those giant plants alongside the roads are called - ferula. Are they related to fennel by any chance? Great photos and narration. I'm enjoying your 'Murge' series very much.

marley said...

The caterpillars almost look like a twisted tarantula!

Saretta said...

Rosaria, we did find a grand total of three cardoncello mushrooms! We had better luck with the asparagus.

Poet, yes they are quite dangerous although they look sweet and fluffy!

Welcome, Kia! Glad you enjoy the blog, hope to hear from you again soon!

Yes, Abe, they are kind of scary!

Kristin, I don't know. My mom says they look like broccoli on steroids!

Marley, nice image!