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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.

                August's Mushroom of the Month

Agaricus arvensis: the Horse Agaric

Two photos of Leccinum Aurantiacum

Photo Credit: Von Grzanka

The horse agaric is one of the largest members of the Agaricus genus.  It is an excellent edible. With caps up to 7 or 8 inches wide, this mushroom is an excellent candidate for a meal of stuffed mushrooms.

The convex to flat white cap, that easily bruises a brassy yellow, ranges from 3 to 8 inches (7.5 to 20 cm.) wide.  There are often hanging veil remnants on the margin of the cap.  The caps often crack into small scales at the center of the cap.  The white stem, smooth above the ring and slightly scaly below, ranges from 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 cm.) tall and ½ to 1 inch (10 to 25 mm.) thick.  The stems are usually equal but are sometimes clavate with the wide part at the base. The large, thick ring is smooth on top with cog wheel like patterns on the underside.  The white flesh is quite thick; it slowly bruises yellowish.  The odor is like anise or almond extract when the mushrooms are young.  The odor becomes somewhat musty with age.  The taste is pleasant and somewhat almond like.  The close, broad, free gills are white to pallid when young becoming grayish then dark chocolate brown as the spores develop.  They are never pink unlike many species of Agaricus.  The spore print is dark chocolate to blackish brown.  Agaricus arvensis mushrooms are found scattered solitary or occasionally in small groups in grasslands.  Suburban lawns, cemeteries and pastures are good places to look for these mushrooms.  Horse mushrooms fruit from later June through October.

There are several look-alikes: A. Xanthoderma which is poisonous lacks the fragrant odor (sometimes the odor is inky or phenolic) and stains chrome yellow at the stem base when crushed.  A. silvicola, a good edible, woodland mushroom, is a smaller, thinner mushroom.  The poisonous, white Amanitas, Amanita virosa and A. bisporigera, have gills that are always white, do not have the cog like pattern on the underside of their rings and grow from volvas (cup like to sheath like structures from which the stems arise).  Of course, Amanitas have white spore prints and gills that are always white, whereas Agricus mushrooms have a dark chocolate brown spore print and dark chocolate brown gills with age.

A. arvensis mushrooms are very susceptible to maggots.  Make sure your mushrooms are not bug ridden.  The large size of these mushrooms makes them an ideal “nest” for stuffed baked quail or game hen.  Horse mushrooms are ideal for stuffing with any savory stuffing.  When the mushrooms are large and mature, I will scrape off the chocolate brown gills before cooking

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Phil Tedeschi

Photo Credit: Von Grzanka