Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A plateful of pretties

Frank showed me a picture he'd taken of some mushrooms when he showed up for the morning's Litter Mob. After our de-littering and branch-sawing activities I hoofed it over to where he'd said they were (I got uncharacteristically lost, first, quite disconcerting. I literally walked in a wide circle and landed up where I'd started. I thought that only happened in stories!). The mushrooms were growing in a cluster in nice green grass and I hoped they might be Agaricus (the meadow mushrooms that I wolfed in greedy splendour some weeks ago). When I picked them, though, I knew immediately that I had something different. The gills were white, for a start, elevating me to a different and more difficult level of mushrooming; and also because of the bright orange stain on the stems and caps as they bruised. Staining is an important part of identifying some mushrooms.

They smelled good.

Having mushrooms in different stages of growth is also very helpful.

Leucoagaricus americanus. Probably. Common name, reddening parasols.

My books did not help (I only have two), but the web did. After ten minutes of searching and thinking they may be parasols, but not finding the red stain, I submitted the images to the wild mushroom group I belong to on Facebook. This delivered the name (which was just confirmed by Gary Lincoff, the author and mushroom authority in the other group I belong to, Foragers Unite!) and then I went back to the rest of the web for cross-referencing, looking for poisonous lookalikes (not very alike, though). Because these babies are edible.

I am taking a spore print...

Gary's advice was to exercise caution because: "1) the next time you're out you might pick a red-staining Amanita and mis-identify it, and 2) you don't know if every population of this mushroom is equally digestible - the substrate can cause problems with "edible" mushrooms..."

Substrate refers to what the mushroom is growing on. These reddening parasols often grow on woodchips, and some chips can be poisonous - Taxus (yew) for example.

A good day's hunting.

Update 9-1411: Another suggestion from an alert member of the mushroom group has been Leucoagaricus meleagris, a different species, obviously, and hardly described at all. The few images I can find look a lot like these mushrooms, especially as their stems are skinnier than the L. agaricus.

Verdict? I am going to pass on the taste test. I am sorry to, but I just don't know enough...


  1. You gotta love the Internet when you can belong to a wild mushroom group! Hope they are as tasty as the last crop you had.

  2. Sorry my directions were so poor! Thought the wood chipper pile was a good sign. Blame Olmstead and his circuitous ways.

    Definitely wood chips in that alley, although they are getting grown over now because of disuse by horses.

    so did ya eat?

  3. i'd love to see vince's face as you are trying to determine what these mushrooms are.

  4. webb, yes, the good and bad of the www...

    Frank, there was nothing wrong with your directions. I still don't know what happened. I've never got lost like that. In the end I went the long way, on the circular drive...Very weird. I may have a small taste today. Want to do some more double checking.

    donna - well...he wasn't home fr my big web search, just came back in tiem for results.


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