Ruheforst Mushrooms

From Avalus, information about a growing trend and a warning about climate change.

Maybe a bit macabre, so a foreword.

 Graveyards, Mushrooms and climate change, perhaps.

 In Germany there is a growing trend to be buried in a “Ruheforst”, (resting or still forest) instead of a usual graveyard. There your cremated remains get buried in a bio-degradable urn next to a tree of your choosing. There are no graves, no large markerstones, just an open, tended-to forest with many small paths and plaques on some trees. Some persons I know rest in such a place in the palatinate forest near the town Bad Dürkheim, so our family visits them every so often. Now to the bit macabre bit: It’s also a prime mushroom hunting place with usually plenty of different bolete species and other edibles. One of my grandmothers is sure, the ‘shrooms are nourished by the dead and refuses to eat any. I think they are so plentiful because by opening the forest, the trees left standing are getting more light and nutrients and so can give more of these nutrients to their mushroom-symbionts.

This year however, there were hardly any mushrooms of any kind there. The ground was very dry and most of the threes had small leaves. Instead, signs warning of forest fires were a common sight.

I did not pick up any of the edible ‘shrooms I found, but only took photos.

I have no idea, but I admired its roundness. ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Many small ones living in the ridge of a decaying treestump. ©Avalus, all rights reserved


An ensemble of decaying wood, mosses, alien lichens, bilberry and some ‘shrooms. ©Avalus, all rights reserved


Added detail of the top. ©Avalus, all rights reserved


One nice thing with the cellphone-camera is its flatness, so I can try new perspectives! ©Avalus, all rights reserved


Added Bloopers: I forgot the basket :D ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Thanks Avalus for such interesting material and great photographs. We’ll be showcasing more of Avalus’ photos all week so make sure to check back daily.


  1. says

    It’s called a “Friedwald” (peace forest) here and I definitely plan to be buried there. Ours is a primary forest and extremely beautiful.
    My aunt in law already “bought” a tree there and then the guy responsible for the forest told them stories at an information event. There’s basically two types of trees: Family trees for up to (I think) 8 members of a family, and mixed trees, where people who don’t have large families buy a place. Most people do so well in advance and one person thought that they would like to know the people in life they will spend eternity with. Now, the people managing the forest couldn’t hand out addresses, but pass on messages and gladly did so. Many people responded and now they’ve got groups of people who used to be total strangers doing all kinds of things together, up to going on group holidays.

  2. kestrel says

    What amazing mushrooms. Love them! I am not sure but I believe boletes grow in the roots of their trees and not from the soil. However I completely understand if your grandmother wants to keep away from the mushrooms, I’m sure it must be unnerving to some people.

    What a lovely way to take care of human remains. I think it’s fantastic.

  3. lumipuna says

    I suppose the symbiontic fungi do extract phosphorus and other mineral nutrients from the human remains, while feeding on sugar from the trees. Very natural. Much ecology. Such recycling.

  4. says

    Boletes are symbiotic mushrooms, they grow together with certain types of trees and as a consequence they can only grow near said trees. Allegedly the mushrooms help the tree to get water and nutrients by increasing significantly the surface area of its roots.

    I can certainly confirm that an oak with myccorhitic fungus on its roots grows multiple times faster than one without.

    The forest is a wonderful idea, I would love to be burried in one. I do not know about any such place here.

    I know of no fungus that grows on dead bodies, and certainly no fungus grows on ashes (there are fungi that specialize on charred wood however). Further due to how nature works, every food we eat contains atoms and molecules that were once part of a human body. So I have a bit trouble to understand why someone would object to eating mushrooms found in that particular forest. I would be more concerned about mushrooms somewhwere downwind of a coal power plant, because mushrooms are known to collect and concentrate heavy metals.from their surroundings in the fruiting body. Anyways, a lot of our food grows literally from shit, that is just nature.

  5. Jazzlet says

    Avalus that third photo, of the ensemble, is quite quite beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    I too want to be buried in such a place and there are a few in the UK.

    A couple of my brothers used to live near Nunhead Cemetary in south London, one of the large Victorian cemetaries established when the church yards of London were full. The cemetary is now fairly overgrown with mature trees, parts have been tidied up somewhat, but the cemetary is mostly an undisturbed nature reserve in an otherwise built up area. One brother used to go there regulary to bird watch and in season woud bring back blackberries, which the other brother refused to eat for the same reason as Avalus’ grandmother won’t eat the mushrooms. I thought this was daft as blackberries don’t have six foot deep root systems.

  6. avalus says

    I am glad you like the pictures :)
    I should add: I did not take the mushrooms, because there were so few of them and taking these few felt selfish and greedy. Last year, that basket was full and there was whole lotta more ’round.

    These places usually do not advertise, we heard it by word of mouth, so go and ask your undertaker! :D

    @Kestrel #2: Most boletes grow from the soil. Their mycelium is very widely dispersed (I read something about up to 20m in radius and at least 4 m in depth) and links with the smallest rootlets of the surrounding trees. The fungus exchanges metal ions, phosphates and similar compounds which it extracts from the soil for a part of the sugars that the tree produces. What we see on the surface is just the fruitbulb to release spores. Fungi that sprout from the wood themselves usually are digesting dead or living wood, which can be good or bad, if you are a tree. There are also predatory fungi that catch tiny nemathodes in the soil!

    @Lumipuna: Exactly!

    @Charly #4: I agree! Well, she is staunch catholic … . As with heavy metals in shrooms: even in this distance, there were long studies, monitoring the isotopes in Fungi from fallout of Chernobyl. They went well in to the 2000s.

    @Jazzlet: Uh I was in Nunhead in 200…9…ish? It was so beautiful! (A weird travel it was. 4 days of london: fencing, loosing badly, then 3 days museums and two cementries because why not)

  7. rq says

    Not macabre at all! I have a fascination with cemeteries and graveyards, not least because I took an anthropology course back in the day and there is so much information to be found -- I love going to cemeteries and finding the oldest graves, some have very poorly-kept markers (300 years will do that), but some of the old ones are still legible, some get renewed… but there’s a story behind each marker, the saddest one I remember was of three children under the age of 10 who all died in the same year. Checking up the dates, it was a plague year, about 250 years ago…
    Cemeteries here are most often set up as very wooded parks -- one of the few recognizable remnants of the pagan traditions of sacred groves. Most are a delight for quiet walking, because the paths are well-kept and there’s a certain solemnity. I used to take the kids when they were babbies for strolls through the local cemetery, but I got a lot of side-eye about it -- apparently you shouldn’t take children to cemeteries, because the souls of the dead are looking for new bodies to steal. Well, it might explain some of the kids’ strange behaviours, actually…
    I like the idea of getting your own (shared) tree when you die, though. Very much.

    And the mushrooms are pretty. ;)

  8. avalus says

    @rq: All the ‘guys’ a few weeks ago inspired me to share my photos with all of you, so thank you, rq! :)

    Many, many “to” dates here are 39-45. And people seem to forget how many. And why.

  9. Nightjar says

    I just love the lichen. And the perspective is wonderful in all photos.

    I would also eat the mushrooms, but I know for a fact my grandma wouldn’t.

  10. Jazzlet says

    Was the other cemetary Highgate? It is the one people tend to visit as it has a lot of famous people buried in it, the fabulous family mausoleums and, perhaps most importantly, an active ‘Friends of Highgate Cemetary’ group who do tours of the part that is otherwise not open to the public.

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