Macrolepiota procera (NL: Grote parasolzwam / EN: Parasol mushroom / DE: Gemeine Riesenschirmling, Parasol, Riesenschirmpilz / FR: Lépiote élevée, Coulemelle, Nez de chat) is a basidiomycete fungus with a large, prominent fruiting body resembling a lady's parasol. It is a fairly common species on well-drained soils. It is found solitary or in groups and fairy rings in pastures and occasionally in woodland. Globally, it is widespread in temperate regions. The height and cap diameter of a mature specimen may both reach 40 cm, a size truly impressive for the fruiting body of an agaric. The stipe is relatively thin and reaches full height before the cap has expanded. The stipe is very fibrous in texture which renders it inedible. The surface is characteristically wrapped in a snakeskin-like pattern of scaly growths. The immature cap is compact and egg-shaped, with the cap margin around the stipe, sealing a chamber inside the cap. As it matures, the margin breaks off, leaving a fleshy, movable ring around the stipe. At full maturity, the cap is more or less flat, with a chocolate-brown umbo in the centre that is leathery to touch. Dark and cap-coloured flakes remain on the upper surface of the cap and can be removed easily. The gills are crowded, free, and white with a pale pink tinge sometimes present. The spore print is white. It has a pleasant nutty smell. When sliced, the white flesh may turn a pale pink. It is a very sought after and popular fungus in Europe, due in part to its large size, seasonal frequency and versatility in the kitchen. The species is difficult to mistake for any other, especially in regions like Europe where the poisonous look-alike Chlorophyllum molybdites does not occur. Nevertheless, as with picking any fungus for consumption, caution should be exercised at all times.
Image: Schoten (BE) – 09/10/2012
© Johan Dierckx
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