Wood Blewit - Growing & Identification

Wood Blewits, (Clitocybe (kly-TOSS-i-bee) nuda) are a fall weather loving mushroom that you can find in the wild but also make for a great backyard cultivation project.

purple wood blewit mushrooms on wood chips

What do Blewit Look Like?

 With access to a variety of garden and forest organics, you can grow and appreciate these late season fruiters. The best thing about Blewits is their unusual color, ranging from a pinky tan to a gentian blue. There is a poisonous look-alike (cortinarius sp) that is also blue, but it has a cobwebby veil and rusty spore print. There is a big range of color in the mushrooms with fruiting temperature and stage of development but they tend to have the richest blues later in the fall in cooler, wet weather. Because of their color variability, its best to know the ID keys: lavender gills fading to pinkish, cap often a smooth, blue to tan, no partial veil, Spores buff to pink, often swollen at the base of the stem (Figure 1).

How to make a Blewit Bed

You can plant Blewits in the fall or spring. We like to lay chunks of sawdust spawn in grids directly on the garden or forest floor, covered with thin layers of whatever organic material we have on hand (Figure 2). Blewits are saprobic, meaning they thrive in decomposing decaying organic matter. Blewits seem to best like layers of organic materials: piles of grass clippings, layers of straw mulch, pine needles, sawdust, wood chips and bark pieces left over from making wood for your wood stove.

We have several successful inoculation strategies for different backyard environments. Blewit are fun to play with and can surprise you with a patch of mushrooms or individuals scattered throughout the bed.

Blewit Mushrooms in the Garden

Our best garden strategy is to inoculate in heavily mulched areas that will receive plenty of moisture and plant shade as part of the garden maintenance. Our best results thus far have been in compost enriched soils planted with pumpkin and squash (heavy feeders and well fertilized) and thickly mulched with straw (Figure 3).

Blewit Mushrooms in the Orchard:

Thick layer of compost under trees, inoculated and mulched with wood chips under trees. Especially successful using ramial wood chips from spring pruning as a mulch. Blewits seem to like high nitrogen environments that contribute to bioactive soils.

Blewit Mushrooms in the Forest:

Inoculated in the fall after picking up firewood cut and stacked. Inoculated big chunks of sawdust spawn into the sawdust and bark duff released from the aging wood (Figure 4).
Grid planted and layered with wood chips, pine needles and enriched with a thin layer of alfalfa hay or grass clippings.

How to Rejuvenate a Blewit Bed

The best way to make a new bed year after year (alternative to spawn purchase), is to find clumps of myceliated organic material in the blewit bed. Fall is a great time for mycelium expansion for the blewit. These clumps are best found in deep layers of pine the bed substrate (Figure 5). Break into tangerine sized chunks and transfer into a new bed. Rejuvenation by transfer isn't as sure as planting with new spawn, but certainly worth the effort if the conditions are right!

How to Cook Blewit Mushrooms

Blewits can be found late summer into late fall, but we tend to harvest for eating late into the season when other mushrooms are at rest. And any insect cohabitation in the gills are also at a minimum. Mushrooms harvested this time of year tend to be wet, so the wet sauté works great. Heat a cast iron or non stick skillet to hot and add the trimmed and sliced mushrooms to the pan. We like to sprinkle with salt while the mushrooms release all the moisture. Once the sliced surfaces start to brown , add some butter or oil (roasted walnut is wonderful) and season with more salt. Serve hot as a side dish!

When you'll see them:
Typically September through November, depending on weather patterns and location.
Moderate. The technique is easy, but the correct bed composition can be difficult to nail down.
Find the Spawn:

Blewit ID

blewit in wood chips

Building a blewit bed

building a blewit bed

Blewit in the garden

a blewit mushroom by a pumpkin

Wood Blewit mycelium

wood blewit mycelium

Blewit mycelium transfer

blewit mushroom transfer