Clouded judgement – The Clouded Agaric

This post is placed in two categories; setting it in ‘Tales of Toadstools’ and ‘Woodland Treats’ due to its mixed acceptance in edibility, so it may not be much of a ‘woodland treat’ for everyone out there.

Clouded Agaric (Clitocybe nebularis)It’s one of those ‘they’re everywhere’ mushrooms in autumn, definitely around Leicestershire anyway. Their appearance can be really quite dull, but depending on their age, the Clouded Agaric (Clitocybe nebularis) can vary in medium to very large in size (up to 20cm) and often grow in huge rings or groups in deciduous or conifer woodland. They’ve always have a place in my heart because they were my first mushroom hunting discovery and ID case. Just shows how ‘common as muck’ they are! Very common that is, from late summer to late autumn.

The common name comes from the appearnce of the cloudy white/grey coloured cap (sometimes with a hint of light brown) which is always darker at the centre. The shape of the cap is initially domed, then flattened and later with a depressed centre. The margin can be smooth and round or even wavy and irregular. The whitish stem is often quite tall with a thick bulbous base, covered in fine white mycelium where woodland floor debris likes to cling to.

Being one of the Clitocybe genus (Funnels) the crowded whitish gills are always decurrent, that is, running down the stem, sometimes only slightly so.

Edibility-wise, they are recommended to be avoided, which I’m having a problem with. It seems such a waste. They’re large, juicy looking with loads of them about. The main reason being is that they can ‘disagree’ with some people and cause some bad stomach upset. Somebody must have tried to eat them, and what do they taste like? Was it worth it?

After a little net surfing I came across a great blog article covering this very subject. ‘Risky Eating’ was the title by the author Becky. She decided to take a chance and sample a small amount. Having no reaction after 24hours, she cooked up a lot of fungus and found it to be ‘really really tasty’ with a ‘strong flavour’. (See the full article here)

So, come Autumn again this year, I think I’ll have a taster and see if I’m OK with it. Because if I am, then wow, I’ll be spoilt for pickings. Here’s hoping!

Clouded Agaric Toadstool

The cloudy whiet/grey agaric often grows in rings or large groups in woodland. They are often quite large (15 – 20 cm diametre cap). Note the decurrent gills (left).



8 – 20cm White/Grey sometimes with light brown hue. Initially convex, matures to flat and dip in centre. Inrolled margin. Margin sometimes wavy & irregular. Flesh is thick & white with strong sweetish smell.


5 – 12cm x 2 – 3 cm. Paler than cap. Swollen, thicker base. Woodland floor debris sticks to white mycellium at base. Becomes hollow and breaks easily.


White, crowded & decurrent. When older the colour has a yellowish hue.
Spore Print: Cream (see how to take a spore print here).


In deciduous and coniferous woodland on the floor amongst leaf and needle litter. In large groups or rings. Late summer – late autumn. Very common.


Edible. OK. May cause gastric upset. Cook a little first and test.

The Genus CLITOCYBE (Funnels): Characteristics to look out for:

• Caps are often ‘funnel’ shaped; sometimes with a central bump (umbo).
• Gills are decurrent; sometimes very deep down the stem.
• Possess strong; often distinctive smells such meal (fresh flour/grain or slightly cucumber-like) or aniseed.

Update (September 2010): Autumn came around again pretty sharpish and I harvested a few of these beauties. After I fried and tasted a small sample, I waited a good 12 – 24 hours and I was fine. No gastric upset (as this is all this mushroom can do at it’s worst!). My God, what a lovely flavour. I consider this to be the ‘poor mans’ Field Mushroom’ – it’s not as splendid in overall flavour and consistency, but by golly, it’s damn close. I tucked into a few with my usual Saturday morning fry-up. They are really nice. I shouldn’t be telling you this because you may get out there and harvest my crop!

But seriously – well worth a go, and if you find a good patch in a wood in a ring – you will be spoilt senseless. Just cut open the stem to check for any maggot infestation – unfortunately they love it also!

See my latest pictures below. Some are younger and perfectly formed. As they grow older they get a ‘wavy’ margin (edge of cap).

Clouded Agaric pictures

13 replies
  1. J C Harris
    J C Harris says:

    Thank you for the comment Becky. I absolutely love your blog too. And as for your pictures from the field, well, I love them. Anyone who gets a chance then take a look. In time I will build up my library, hopefully. The frustrating thing about mushroom hunting is quite simply – winter. Come on spring, summer and autumn!

  2. Sybil Mcgannon
    Sybil Mcgannon says:

    Getting outdoors and actually enjoying a few days in the brush with some friends and brewskis is the best way to spend a weekend in the summer, Im excited to get out there with my new knife.

  3. Alia
    Alia says:

    Hi,some of mushrooms must be cooked first to delete this bitter taste. One of this kind is milk – agaric. Milk,because when cutted gives this milk- like liquid. All mushrooms,which have milk basicaly are edible but people piking them for winter pickles mainly. Marinated,salted or pickled after was cooked and washed,is one of the best mushooms for the winter conserves. If you want to try it now,cook,wash and then again cook for some time. Only then you can fry it with some onions,peppers,bay leaves,smoked meat. When its done,put some sour or double cream and switch off your cooker ( you dont need to cook with cream). Boil some potatoes and enjoy your tasty meal for free ?

  4. Vivien
    Vivien says:

    I have decided to harvest these this year. I think I shall treat them like Lepista nuda and first boil them and throw away the water. I am sure I could digest them, but don’t want to upset any rare visitors. The two mushrooms are so similar and LN were wonderfully chewy and ‘meaty’ following my processing, so perhaps the Clouded Agaric will be similar. I intend dehydrating them subsequent to the boiling. Hope they will serve as humane meaty bits in stews and soups throughout the following year.

    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      That’s a brilliant idea – so much so that I think I’ll do the same. They will serve well as meaty fillers in soups and stews for sure. And because they are so common and often in large numbers it’s a good opportunity to stock up.

  5. John Banbury
    John Banbury says:

    I tired these this Autumn. First a small amount – no ill effects, then I completely over did it because I loved the taste of the first one and because nobody else wanted to risk eating the huge haul I brought in. I really at a lot, a whole piled plate of them. Although there were no major “issues” I did experience some gastric disturbance and the most horrendously smelly farts.
    In future I will eat in moderation.

    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      They are nice (although I find it hard to find many maggot free specimens). Thanks for the warning on over consumption – my gastric disturbances are bad enough as they are anyway! lol

  6. Alan Sloan
    Alan Sloan says:

    I’ve been eating these for the last few days, they taste pretty much like field mushrooms and no ill effects yet, though in the long term I haven’t seem my post-mortem yet to find out if I had kidney damage before I died. To be on the safe side, I’d recommend nobody eat my kidneys when i’m in the pre-decomposition stage, and certainly not after that!.


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