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Horse Mushroom - Agaricus arvensis

Horse Mushroom - Agaricus arvensis

Main features

  • Fruits Summer to Autumn

  • Grows in rings or partial rings in grassland and sometimes near trees

  • Like ground with lots of organic decaying matter

  • Smells of aniseed

  • Cap white in colour, yellowing slowly when bruised

  • Cap starts off dome-shaped and flattens with width of 8-30cm

  • Sturdy white stem up to 10cm and and 2-3cm in diameter

  • Double ring with cogwheel pattern underneath

  • Stem often smooth above ring and slightly scaly below

  • Flesh is white

  • Crowded and free gills start white, then turn pink and finally chocolate 

  • Spore print is chocolate brown

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Horse Mushroom - Agaricus arvensis

Edible mushroom - novice/intermediate

Other common names: Snowball Mushroom, Abrahams


Scientific name meaning: Agaricus comes from the Greek Agarikon, meaning mushroom. Arvensis is New Latin, meaning of or belonging to a field

Season - when will I find it? From Summer to Autumn

Habitat - where will I find it? The Horse Mushroom is often found in grassland that has plenty of decaying organic matter. Is is also sometimes found close to trees that are dropping a lot of leaf litter 

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: The Horse Mushroom is a saprobic mushroom living on dead and decaying organic matter under the sward. It grows in rings and partials rings, but single fruits or clumps are often found

Cap: Starts off white and yellows with age. When the fruit is young, it is dome-shaped, becoming very flattened as it ages. It is usually smooth, but can also have fine scales. The size of the cap can be between 8cm and up to 30cm. It bruises a yellowish colour when handled

Gills: Starting off white, the gills become pink and eventually chocolate brown. When white, they should be avoided by novice foragers in case of confusion with poisonous Amanitas. The gills are fair crowded and free (do not touch the stem) 

Flesh: white

Stem: Sturdy and white in colour, the stem can reach 10cm tall, and is 2-3cm wide. It has a double ring, or skirt, which has a cogwheel pattern on its underside. This is most visible when the skirt is still attached as a partial veil to the underside of the cap. Often the stem is smooth above the ring, and slightly scaly beneath

Smell: Slightly of aniseed

Spore colour: Chocolate brown

Possible lookalikes Could be confused with any of the poisonous Agaricus - such as the Yellow Stainer (Agaricus xanthodermis)or the Inky Mushroom (Agaricus moelleri), but these smell unpleasant of phenol or bottled ink and/or stain strongly yellow, particularly in the base of the stem, when bruised or cut. 

When the gills are white, confusion with poisonous Amanitas could also be possible, so very young specimens are best avoided by novice foragers

Use as a food Must be cooked and can be used exactly as a cultivated mushroom. It has an aniseed/perfumed taste that some people do not enjoy

Use in herbal medicine Some research has been undertaken into potential antioxidant activity of the Horse Mushroom. It has been used to treat lumbago and tendon pain in China

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards This mushroom can grow on roadside grass verges where it can accumulate traffic-related toxins. It is advisable to avoid harvesting from the sides of busy roads

Importance to other species Provides food for a the larvae of a number of fly species. Worth remembering when harvesting. Younger specimens tend to have less livestock inside!

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

Horse Mushroom cogwheel - Agaricus arvensis
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