St George's Mushroom - Calocybe gambosa

Main features

  • Fruits near to St George's Day (23 April)

  • Grows in rings or partials rings in grassland, or near woodland edges or hedgerows

  • Smells of wet dough

  • Cap white in colour, turning buff when older, and a "dented" inrolled edge

  • White rough-surfaced stem with no ring

  • Base of stem often bends to one side

  • Sinuate (toothed) white gills

  • Gills very shallow compared to cap flesh

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St George's Mushroom - Calocybe gambosa

Edible mushroom - intermediate

Other common names: St George's Mushroom

 

Scientific name meaning: Calocybe is derived from the ancient Greek words kalos, meaning “pretty”, and cubos, meaning “head”. The species name gambosus is of Latin origin and means “club footed”. Gambosa is a reference to the often one-sided bulbousness of the stem base

Season - when will I find it? St George's Mushroom is a springtime fruiting fungus. As its common name suggests, it is often found close to St George's Day (23 April)
 

Habitat - where will I find it? St George's Mushroom can be found in grassland, on the edges of woodland, and near hedgerows and trees. In grassland it causes rings of lush-looking longer grass. It is a native of Western Europe

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: St George's Mushroom is a saprobic mushroom living on dead and decaying organic matter under the soil. It grows in rings and partials rings, but can give the appearance of growing in clumps

Cap: Convex, firm and white, turning more buff as it ages. It has a smooth surfaces and is between 5-15cm in diameter. 

The edge of the cap often has one or more "dents" in it. It has a slightly inrolled margin, which remains as the mushroom ages.

Gills: White and very narrow in comparison to the cap flesh. This can be seen when sliced in half from top to bottom to form a cross-section of the mushroom.

The gills are sinuate - having a tooth-like attachment to the stem. This gives the false appearance of a narrow gutter between the stem and the gills

Stem: Between 2 and 4cm wide and 3 to 7cm tall. It has a rough appearance - like wool bobbles on a well-worn jumper. There is no ring or volva. The base of the stem often bends out to one side

Smell: Mealy, like wet flour. This is greatly reduced after cooking

Spore colour: White

Possible lookalikes Could be confused with Deadly Fibrecap (Inocybe erubescens), but the gills of this mushrooms bruise red and it does not have a mealy smell. There are other mushrooms that it could be mistaken for later in the year, and this is where date is an important identification point

Use as a food St George's Mushroom is one of the few mushrooms that can be eaten raw. It can also be pickled. However, the frying in butter is the most popular method to eat them. Cooking can remove some of the mealy odour/flavour.

This is also a good mushroom for dehydrating, as well as for using in stocks

Use in herbal medicine The antifungal properties of St George's Mushroom is currently being researched. 

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

Hazards This mushroom likes to 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!