Germany: Thuringia has its own mushroom guru

Lothar Schreier from the Free State of Thuringia, Germany, knows more about mushrooms than many a mortal. The 51-year-old spots mushrooms where others just see moss and dead leaves. Schreier has been a self-appointed mushroom expert since 1986, when he brought the expertise of his Czech parents with him to Thuringia.

“My mother used to experiment with mushrooms,” he explains. “She would try them out, then we could have them as well.” After merely being interested for a long while, Schreier decided to become an advisor.

People can benefit from his services for free. Still, his clientele has dwindled somewhat. Schreier blames the internet, which seems to take away some of his expertise. Most advisers however, warn against relying on the internet too much. “Smell is an important factor in classifying a mushroom,” Schreier says, “and you don’t have that online. This, by the way, is one of the reasons experts can’t tell you over the phone whether or not it’s safe to eat a mushroom.”

For those looking for a broad notion on safety, Schreier says: “Of the 4,000 mushrooms in Thuringia, about 140 are toxic. You have to know them by heart.”


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