Northern Bushcraft

Horse Mushroom

  • cap up to 20cm wide, convex, smooth, dry, white to creamy, with NO hint of orange.
  • older specimens have a planar cap with light brown scales in center.
  • flesh is white or cream, firm.
  • gills are crowded, free from the stem, progressing from pink-tinged white to dark brown/black with age.
  • stem is smooth, dry, equal or thickening towards the base, unchanged when bruised. No yellow staining at the base of the stem when cut ot bruised.
  • in young specimens, the underside of the partial veil bears a characteristic cogwheel-like pattern.
  • in older specimens, the double veil progresses to a skirt-like tissue/ring around the stem.
  • grows in grassy areas, meadows and fields.
  • appears in late sumer or fall.
  • taste is mild, with a light licorice/anise odor; cook before eating.
  • an edible look-alike is Agaricus silvicoa, which is practically indistinguishable in the field.
  • warning: do not confuse with the poisonous Agaricus xanthodermis, which is similar in appearance but has a stem that buises yellow at the base when cut or bruised.
  • warning: only collect younger specimens that still have the characteristic cogwheel pattern on the unbroken veil; older specimens could be confused with poisonous look-alikes.
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Field Notes
It's always exciting to find an unopened white mushroom, turn it over, and see the defining cog-wheel pattern of the horse mushroom. This is a common mushroom that you can find after rainy periods on city lawns and grassy areas, with a little luck. Aside from the cog-wheel pattern, it superficially resembles the similarly-common Meadow mushroom, although the gills are nowhere near as pink, and the flesh on the Horse mushroom is firmer and more water resistant, with an odor that's all its own. Ensure that the stem base does not discolor to yellow and that the mushroom is worm-free. I generally slice these thinly and fry them in butter and/or a pesto sauce, adding water until the mushroom has been cooked through.
Related topics: Edible Plants of BC - Edible Berries of BC - Edible Mushrooms of BC - Edible Seashore of PNW
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