One of my nearby local parks has a great selection of tree species, scattered beautifully across its modest expanse. It was here that I came across a mushroom more typically found in a woodland setting.
Although not in woodland, these Blushing Wood Mushrooms (Agaricus silvaticus) had set a comfy foothold near several coniferous trees, enough to satisfy their happy mychorizzal relationship. They were scattered in a small group, so I didn’t want to over pick, just wanted sample a few of these edible and ‘good’ mushrooms.
These mushrooms are quite easy to miss as the scaly ochre-brown caps tend to blend into the background of soil and fallen needles. Luckily, a few tufts of grass helped me spot them easily.
Initially I discovered the larger, more mature examples growing at my feet, with brown/dark brown crowded gills under wide, flat caps; up to 10cm across. So I sought out the younger specimens nearby to see what I was dealing with.
After seeing the reddening on the damaged and exposed flesh, the colour of the gills (pale in young to darker brown when mature), I knew it was an Agaricus species. Iinitially I wasn’t 100% sure it was A.silvaticus because I knew the Scaly Wood Mushroom (Agaricus langei) was so similar. Also, I’d only ever seen A.silvaticus before in woodland scenarios. But this A.langei lookalike was slightly bugging me; its flesh also turns red on cutting/exposing the flesh, but happening more slowly. In the end I was satisfied it was A.silvaticus because the reddening here occurred much quicker. And from a foragers point of view, being unsure whether it was either of the two, they are both edible and good. A smell test will help confirm too; the more stocky A.langei has a distinctive pleasant ‘mushroomy’ smell where as the Blushing Wood mushroom is nothing special – quite bland and indistinctive.
Edibility with surprising health benefits
I wanted to find out more about their edibility, possibly to find any recipes that may be floating around the internet. I know many edible mushrooms are very nutritional, and some which have very impressive health benefits. But I didn’t suspect this species was one of them.
As part of a balanced diet, Blushing Wood Mushrooms are being used to help in the recovery of cancer patients. Along with a high proportion of protein, they also contains a high content of essential minerals, making it a very effective supplement with great antioxidant power. To read further see the article on ‘Wild Foodism’: What Agaricus silvaticus, The Blushing Wood Mushroom, Does For Cancer Patients.
With health benefits like this, it makes things all the better – they were a tasty addition to my fry up (or grill up – doing my best to be extra healthy – or not!). But I must apologise because this has been a delayed post, and if you’re reading it close to when published (ie. late November) you may have to wait until next summer/autumn for a chance to find them again. Sorry!
QUICK ID TABLE: BLUSHING WOOD MUSHROOM Agaricus silvaticus
CAP / FLESH
5-11cm across, covered in light brown fibrils which expand into larger soft flat scales. Initially rounded, expanding flat. Flesh is white, quickly turning red when cut. Bland, indistinctive smell.
5-8cm x 1-1.2cm. Whitish. Ring 3/4 up, sometimes with brown fibrous scales beneath.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
Pale when young, then reddish, eventually brown at maturity.
HABITAT / SEASON
In mixed woods, or parks near trees. Summer to autumn.
Edible and good.
Scaly Wood Mushroom (A. langei)
The Genus AGARICUS (Wood Mushrooms/Mushrooms): Characteristics to look out for:
• Many discolour yellowish, reddish or pinkish when cut or bruised.