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Mushroom of the Woods – Blushing Wood Mushroom

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.

Blushing Wood MushroomAlthough 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!

Agaricus silvaticus

Blushing Wood Mushroom – Agaricus silvaticus. Notice the reddening of the flesh, which eventually turns brown.

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.

STEM

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.
Spore Print: Brown (see how to take a spore print here).

HABITAT / SEASON

In mixed woods, or parks near trees. Summer to autumn.

EDIBILITY

Edible and good.

LOOKALIKES

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.
• Those that discolour bright/chrome yellow should be avoided for consumption.
• Gills in young specimens are often pink (white in a few) – maturing darker brown.
• Make note of any smells, such as aniseed or a typical strong ‘supermarket’ mushroom smell.

A Royal Treat – The Prince Mushroom

Many mushrooms littering the floor in woodlands this autumn can be easily camouflaged, and hence, easily passed by. But in this case it’s very hard to miss this marvellous and very tasty woodland (mostly with conifers) mushroom.

The Prince (Agaricus augustus) earned it’s name (both common and latin) from the Roman emperor. This was his favourite mushroom, and I can’t blame him really.

Prince Mushroom - youngInitially I had confused this mushroom with a typical brown wood mushroom which is understandable. They’re very similar in looks but it’s the sheer size that gives it away. The Prince mushroom mainly can have a cap diametre of up to 20cm. The brown wood mushroom only grows to about 9cm. The largest of the specimens I’d found were in excess of 12cm or more – the maximum size was around the 15cm mark.

They’re quite pretty to look at too. The cap is covered with small chestnut-brown fibrous scales and the top remains as a more solid nutty brown colour. Again, this can add confusion in identification, as it’s been known to be mistaken for a Parasol mushroom, but it doesn’t grow as tall and the gills are white coloured.

The picture above shows a small group of particularly young Prince’s. From very young, they are quite ovoid or elliptical (or should I just say egg-shaped!) but as they grow they expand to form a large convex cap.

Other tips to identifying this grand mushroom is it’s smell. It dishes out a pleasant odour of almonds – pleasant that is if you like the smell of almonds! The ring on the stem is white an is (or can be) large and pendulous (depending on the age at which you find it). Unfortunately my find had been bashed and maimed at the side of the coniferous woodland path, so vital body parts had been damaged and bashed away!

I was going to eat my find, but suddenly had second thoughts as they grew near the edge of the path. A path which I know frequents incontinent dogs and their careless owners. No chips on my shoulder eh!?

The Prince - Edible Woodland Mushroom

A young unopened cap and the ‘knocked off!’ caps of the large fully grown mushroom

The Prince Mushroom

Another young unopened prince mushroom

The Genus AGARICUS (Wood Mushrooms/Mushrooms): Characteristics to look out for:

• Many discolour yellowish, reddish or pinkish when cut or bruised.
• Those that discolour bright/chrome yellow should be avoided for consumption.
• Gills in young specimens are often pink (white in a few) – maturing darker brown.
• Make note of any smells, such as aniseed or a typical strong ‘supermarket’ mushroom smell.