Edible Parasol Mushroom

Late Summer brings out the Parasol mushrooms

It’s a great time of year to start going out foraging more often. It’s late summer with a good portion of rain to get things going. And Autumn is not too far away just round the corner. Many different species start to pop out and show their faces. The problem is though I do tend to get covered in insect bites that itch like crazy!

Besides these problems, I was fortunate enough to find two different Parasols not too far away from each other in and around my local park. The Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) and the Shaggy Parasol (Chlorophyllum rhacodes – formerly Macrolepiota rhacodes). When I first published this post, the Parasols were both from the genus Lepiota, representing the larger specimens in this group. The name ‘Dappering’ is also used to label the majority of this species, but now the Shaggy Parasol has been chosen to stay in the Chlorophyllum genus.

The Parasol mushroom (M.procera) is fairly common and I found this one on the edge of parkland in thick grass (shared with nettles that added to my stings). It’s a mushroom you can’t really miss – standing their tall and proud shouting out it’s presence to the world. It was a solitary soul but sometimes you can find small and large groups of them together.

Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)

Note the Parasol mushroom’s distinctive central brown ‘bump’ and snake scale pattern on the stem

As the common name suggests, the open cap mimics the familiar shape of a parasol. When young, the cap is egg shaped and flattens out when it expands. The cap is a pale buff to white/creamy/brown colour with darker brown shaggy scales. Notably, it has a prominent bump on the top in the centre (umbo).

It’s long slender stem (slightly thicker near the base) has scaly snakeskin markings with a large (double) ring which can be moved up and down. Great fun. This scaly snakeskin appearance on the stem that helps in identifying it from a Shaggy Parasol which does not share this characteristic. Also note the smell, which is very distinctive (like ‘warm-milk as I’ve seen it written somewhere). The Shaggy Parasol on the other hand has no real strong smell at all.

This is an excellent mushroom to eat. Generally good as a fry up but I’ve heard they’re great deep-fried with dipping sauce on the side. Yum!

A few days before I had found myself a Shaggy Parasol (Chlorophyllum rhacodes) located on a patch of grass in the conifer wood close to the park (can also be found in grass gardens and shrubberies). It was kindly but indirectly pointed out to me by a passing little boy, shouting ‘MUSHROOM!’ to his mother who was very uninterested and replied ‘Don’t touch!’ Very wise words indeed – just leave it there – leave it for me (heh heh)!

Shaggy Parasol (Macrolepiota rhacodes)

Shaggy Parasol: Distinctive brown scales curling away from the white cap & thick bulbous base of stem. Notice the small compact shape of a younger specimen. (Locations: Front grass garden and conifer wood).

The rounded white cap (expanding to almost flat with age) has brown scales on top that curve upwards and out giving it a shaggy, torn appearance. The stem at the base is thick and rounded unlike the Shaggy Parasol which isn’t as bulbous.

This shaggy mushroom can be easily mistaken for the Parasol which is understandable. Good tips on how to identify this mushroom over the Parasol are the thicker, stockier appearance, no ‘snake-skin’ pattern on the stem and last but not least it’s colouring when bruised. If fresh, the stem and gills will bruise reddish-brown. Older specimens will have these reddish-brown tints appear naturally.

Edibilty-wise, this can be a very nice treat indeed – for some that is! It must be cooked, but it can disagree with some people and cause digestive upset or even a skin rash. It’s always best to try a little first and see how you go.

One last word of warning though – Never pick smaller sized parasols, or what appear to be parasols. You may by mistake obtain one of the smaller species of Lepiota (Dapperlings) which look like smaller versions of Parasols (around 7cm or less in diametre). Some of these are very poisonous and will cause you some serious grief. So, as a good rule with Parasol mushrooms only pick ones that are at least 12cm in diameter.

Note: This post was updated on 29.10.16, using the current scientific name of the Shaggy Parasol; Chlorophyllum rhacodes.

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

    Thanks for kind comments Martine. They’re not too common round my way either. There are a couple of spots where the Shaggy Parasol pops up time and time again but the normal Parasol is spread out and harder to find, and naturally the tastier one. typical! Hope you find some more pretty soon.

    J

    Reply
  2. Martine
    Martine says:

    These are the best pics of the shaggy parasols I’ve seen! Pity I did not find this site a month ago, but I got mine identified by an acquaintance who knows what she’s doing.
    I’ve been living here for 15 years and this is the first time we’ve had these. They’re incredibly impressive

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Sylvia. It certainly looks like one, although it is a very old example. It has long since dropped it’s spores and is now withering away. They tend to have that dehydrated look with wavy and withered gills and the cap (fully round/circular at maturity) crinkles and contracts too. Shame you missed it in it’s prime.

      All the best
      John

      Reply
  3. carol ward
    carol ward says:

    I have some confusion between shaggy and normal…no scales on stem not really bumped on centre cap and more bulbous at base..16cm across cap…appears to be shaggy and some say NOT to eat…on the other hand, the ring moves without breaking,sporeprint white,does not bruise reddish or yellowish,found with others still egg ish shaped and 1 other mature and flat…in edge of field with regular horse usage nearer to trees… normal or not ???

    Reply
  4. Joe
    Joe says:

    No need to over season these particular beauties. The flavour is so rich and delicious, like a roasted meat, it needs no accompaniment. Excellent website by the way, wonderful and full.

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi David
      This will be one of two Stropharia species. Either Stropharia caerulea (Blue Roundhead) or Stropharia aeruginosa (Verdigris Roundhead). The Blue Roundhead is much more common.

      Reply
      • David
        David says:

        Thanks John! It’s so difficult to find out about mushrooms, I hardly ever take their pictures these days. Now I know its name I’m sure Google will be a mine of information.
        David

        Reply

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