Photo Credit: Uria Vasna / Israel Nature and Parks Authority
Coprinus mushroom on the slopes of Mount Avital and Mount Bental in the Golan

The Mount Avital and Mount Bental reservation comprises a pair of neighboring volcanoes, whose slopes have a unique, moist grove. And wherever you find moist groves, sooner or later you’ll find mushrooms. Then you find if they’re edible or poisonous – hopefully not by trial and error.

Coprinus is a small genus of mushroom-forming fungi consisting of Coprinus comatus – the shaggy ink cap (British) or shaggy mane (American) – and several of its close relatives.

Coprinus mushrooms on the slopes of Mount Avital and Mount Bental in the Golan / Uria Vasna / Israel Nature and Parks Authority
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According to Zoology.ubc.ca, “young shaggy manes are eaten but they need to be consumed as soon as possible after collection, before they turn black.”

Not sure how to apply this knowledge to the Israeli species which is pretty dark while still connected to the ground. I would err on the side of caution.

Coprinus mushrooms on the slopes of Mount Avital and Mount Bental in the Golan / Uria Vasna / Israel Nature and Parks Authority

Because they absorb heavy metals, shaggy manes have potential uses in bioremediation of contaminated soils, according to the same source. However, their ability to accumulate mercury and other toxic heavy metals also means that mushrooms growing from disturbed and contaminated soil should not be eaten.

So, again, look, admire, don’t eat.

Israel and especially the Golan have had a whole lot of rain in January, but for the Coprinus mushroom (דיואית) this is actually the end of the season.

Mount Bental is in the middle of the Golan Heights, towards the Syrian border. The mountain is visited a lot, and it offers a fun coffee shop at the top – Coffee Anan (a pun on both the former UN secretary general and the Hebrew for “Coffee [in the] Cloud”). Zip your Coffee and tea, and munch on your muffins, and take in the view: great panoramic views, really, of the Golan and of Syria in the distance.

Mount Bental was the site of a fierce battle fought during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. It was also one of the largest tank battles ever and was miraculously won by an IDF force of 160 tanks against 1,500 Syrian tanks and 1,000 artillery pieces. By the time the battle was over, only 7 Israeli tanks remained operational, but 900 Syrian tanks had been destroyed. The rest fled back across the border. In memory of that heroic battle, the valley below the mountains, which reaches Mount Hermon, was named the Valley of Tears.

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