Mousseron - Marasmius oreades
Fruits mid-Spring to Autumn
Grows in rings or partial rings in grassland, often leaving a "scorched earth" ring
Smells mealy or of sawdust
Cap buff in colour, turning tan when very wet, and has a broad umbo
White or buff tough, thin stem with no ring
Base of stem is downy and often darkens
Gills are buff-coloured, free or adenexed
Spore print is white
Mousseron - Marasmius oreades
Edible mushroom - intermediate
Other common names: Fairy Ring Champignon, Scotch Bonnet Mushroom, Fairy Ring Mushrooms
Scientific name meaning: The genus name comes from the Greek Marasmos, meaning "wasting", and in reference to how the mushrooms dry out. Oreades is also from Greek, this time Oread meaning "mountain" and was used as a reference to mountain nymphs
Season - when will I find it? From mid-Spring to Autumn
Habitat - where will I find it? The Mousseron is a grassland mushroom, and particularly likes cut or grazed grass. It causes rings of lush-looking longer grass, but upon closer inspection, there is often a patch of bare earth and browned grass forming the ring that resembles scorched earth. It is a native of Western Europe
Description - what does it look like?
Growth: The Mousseron is a saprobic mushroom living on dead and decaying organic matter under the sward. It grows in rings and partials rings
Cap: The smooth cap starts off convex before flattening out. It has a broad umbo (bump). It has a buff colour when dry, and appears a tan colour when wet. It is between 2-5cm in diameter.
This mushroom contains a sugar called trehalose, which allows the caps to dehydrate and rehydrate throughout the spring and summer. If found in a shrivelled dehydrated state, adding water will cause them to rehydrate and allows for easier checking of the ID points
Gills: The cream gills are fairly widely spaced and start off white when the mushroom is very young. They are usually free of the stem, but can be slightly adenexed (very narrow attachment at the top of the stem)
Stem: Quite tough, white or buff-coloured, and ringless, the stem is between 4 and 8cm long and 2 to 6mm. The base is usually darker in colour and the base is downy, often swollen
Smell: Mealy and sometimes like sawdust
Spore colour: White
Possible lookalikes Could be confused with seriously toxic Deadly Funnel (Clitocybe dealbata) or Fool's Funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa), which both grow in rings in grassland. However, the gills of these mushrooms are decurrent (run down the stem), while the Mousseron has free of adenexed gills. And, these two poisonous mushrooms also lack an umbo
Use as a food The Mousseron is a sweet tasting mushroom. It has an excellent nutty taste on its own, but works very well with herbs like coriander and chives or Wild Garlic.
It brings a richness to cream sauces and works very well with eggs in omelettes or with scrambled eggs
Use in herbal medicine The anticancer properties of Mousseron are currently being studied by various universities and academic institutions
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!