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This page is used to feature mushrooms that are prevalent for the particular time of the year or, during the winter months, to feature some of the less desirable or hard to find mushrooms. To see some of our previous stars follow this link to an index of previously featured mushrooms.

                September's Mushroom of the Month

Agaricus augustus: the Prince

 

The prince is a large yellowish brown mushroom with yellowish brown scales on the cap.  It is an excellent edible.  Of all the edible Agaricus mushrooms I have tasted this is my favorite. The flavor of young specimens especially, is mushroomy with sweet, almond overtones.  This may not be a native species in Michigan; the specimens we find are often on mulch and may be coming in from the Western United States.  Reputedly there is a smaller Eastern version.

The concave to flat cap with yellowish brown scales over a pallid base range from 4 to 10 inches (10 to 25 cm.) wide.  The caps of button specimens often have a flattened top and are somewhat squared off like marshmallows.  The caps stain yellow with bruising.  The equal to slightly bulbish, whitish stem that often bruises or ages yellow ranges from 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 9 cm.) long and ½ to 1 ¼ inches (1.25 to 3.125 cm) thick.  The tough, fibrous, skirt-like ring sometimes has white to brownish patches on the underside.  The free gills are white, very slowly changing to grayish brown or pink, and then quickly to dark brown to blackish brown as the spores develop.  The thick, firm flesh is white.  The odor and taste are pleasant, reminiscent of almonds or almond extract.  The spore print is dark brown. Agaricus augustus is found in grassy areas, especially near disturbed ground like paths, road edges, woodland clearings.  It occurs singly or in small groups.  In Michigan it fruits from July through early October.  I have found this mushroom growing in wood chips and along paths in suburban parks.  There are no close look-alikes.

With the somewhat sweet almond-like flavor, young button mushrooms are excellent when sautéed in butter.  The large size of these mushrooms and the flavor makes them good candidates for stuffing.  Like almost all edible Agaricus species they are quite versatile and can be used in all sorts of mushroom recipes.  When the mushrooms are large and mature, I will scrape off the chocolate brown gills before cooking.

Phil Tedeschi

Photo Credit: George Chemilevsky.jpg