P A R A S O L (Macrolepiota Procera)
How to Identify the Parasol
Parasol, Umbrella mushroom
Meaning of Botanical Name
Macro meaning long or great, lepiota is from the greek latin lepis meaning scaly, and procera combines two latin words pro, to be in favour of and cera to be waxy. Translating to a long, great scale bearing fungus we’re in favour of.
Could be confused with
shaggy parasol (Chlorophyllum rhacodes) which looks similar, the shaggy parasols is smaller, has a fruity smell, flesh turns red when cut, has a very shaggy cap and lacks patterning on its stipe. Shaggy parasol is edible but can cause gastric upset in some when eaten raw or under cooked.
The European Macrolepiota mastoidea is also a great edible, differences is that this European giant also lacks markings on its stipe.
Americans should watch out for Chlorophyllum molybdites as it’s a poisoness lookalike, although it has slightly greening gills and has a pale green spore print which makes it easily identifiable.
If in woodlands or near woodlands you should check for dapperlings, they’re typically a lot smaller than parasols.
Range and Distribution
Uk, Northern and mainland Europe, Northern and mid Americas and northern Asia.
Open grass land, farmers’ fields, woodland openings, heathland and common in city parks.
This mushroom is commonly found in open grassland growing in great amounts when found, at full size, both it’s cap size and height can reach 40cm.
The immature cap is egg shaped, similar to a drum stick. It opens up spherical to flat and umbonate, white to cream and covered in a rust red to brown scales radiating out from a central disk.
The gills are white but discolour to more of a pink-brown with age, the mushroom can also make this colouring when cut.
The stipe is slender and tall, as with the cap its’ base colour is white to cream and is covered with fine rust red to brown scales, that break up below a free moving white ring to resemble a snakeskin effect.
A collar like movable ring is present on the stipe, it’s typically white with a browning edge.
Spore print is white.
Has a nutty smell.
Folklore, tall tales, and not so folklore
It’s well known that the fairies of pastures and open woodland congregate in great numbers under these parasol mushrooms when it’s raining. Sometimes if the rain is extremely bad the fairies will also pull up one of these mushrooms and use it as an umbrella if a great journey is to be made. So if you find one lay on the ground just imagine how it might have got there.
Young: bread crumb and fry, fry in butter and garlic, mushroom pate’, chicken and mushroom pie, soups, any recipe that calls for mushrooms.
Mature: if fully open use the cap as a pizza base, if a little bit older dry and powder to use as mushroom salt, seasoning or to add to stocks and infusions.
This fungi has been taken to promote good health and aid digestion, it contains eighteen amino acids and high amounts of eight of these are essential for human health.
I good go to for identification is to put your hand over the mushroom, if it’s larger than your palm then you more than likely don’t have any of the dapperlings,
The stipe, when old, can be used to make a very weak edible paper, it can be blended and used straight off.
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