Just about all of us live in a typical urban environment with pavements, roads and adjacent grassy verges. Because of this, from late spring to autumn, we may have the occasional chance of coming across one of these fellas…
As the name suggests, the Pavement Mushroom (Agaricus bitorquis) chooses to flourish mainly in roadside situations and even gardens. But the interesting feature of this edible Agaricus is that it has the amazing capacity to push through the road (asphalt) itself. It’s proof that nature knows no barriers and doesn’t mind upsetting the local Council by wrecking the pavement.
I found this small group only a few centimetres away from the kerb on a street near my home. You’ll notice in the pictures that you can see how they tend to be ‘forcing’ their way out of the ground, pushing the earth aside as they go. You don’t see this with other, similar mushrooms and it’s a good first indication (along with the location) of positive identification.
The small dome shaped cap is the first thing to see, with remnants of earth clinging to the subtle flaky surface. As it grows the cap soon flattens out to around 10 – 12cm in size. Another good identification feature, especially seen when younger, are the two separate rings found on the white stocky stem (see picture: bottom right).
The gills are initially a dark pink to clay in colour and finish chocolate brown at maturity.
This mushroom really does smell ‘mushroomy’, is edible and quite nice to eat. But I have three qualms about eating this mushroom in particular. For one, this mushroom tends to be very mud loving and dirty so a thorough cleaning is required (I’m just too lazy!). The second is that they are often ‘bug munched’ to provide an unappetising visual appearance, and finally (by nature) they live near to the roadside. And depending on how busy that road is, I generally don’t want any pollution in my food.
But this all just a good moan – they are very good indeed.
QUICK ID TABLE: PAVEMENT MUSHROOM Agaricus bitorquis
CAP / FLESH
4-12cm across. White. Convex/dome shapes, flattening out. Very faintly flaky. Thick white flesh.
3-6cm x 1.5-2cm. White with 2 separate sheathing rings.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
Free. Pink, then clay then chocolate brown.
HABITAT / SEASON
In gardens and roadside verges, sometimes out of the road/asphalt. Late spring – autumn.
Edible and Good.
The Genus AGARICUS (Wood Mushrooms/Mushrooms): Characteristics to look out for:
• Many discolour yellowish, reddish or pinkish when cut or bruised.