Chlorophyllum rhacodes: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Chlorophyllum rhacodes Mushroom
Chlorophyllum rhacodes or Shaggy Parasol is a large, stocky mushroom with a convex cap when mature. The cap’s surface has raised brown scales, giving it a shaggy look, further enhanced by the shaggy edge to the rim.
The shaggy parasol’s habit of growing in rings, known as fairy rings, has long been part of European folklore. The rings are a natural phenomenon resulting from the way the mycelium underground grows. Starting at a single point it grows outwards in a circular motion, searching for more nutrients. Over time, the circle of fruiting bodies above ground will appear in an ever-widening circle, reflecting the mycelium beneath pushing ever outwards.
Chlorophyllum rhacodes is edible mushroom
But only when cooked (it smells sweetly aromatic), and even then can cause stomach upsets in around one in 25 people. That’s why Ultimate Mushroom doesn’t recommend to eat this fungus.
Chlorophyllum rhacodes Identification
Saprobic; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously - often in troops or fairy rings - in lawns and disturbed-ground areas like roadsides, gardens, the edges of fields, and so on; often appearing in the vicinity of conifers (especially spruces); spring through fall; widely distributed in North America, but more commonly from the Rocky Mountains eastward.
5–16 cm; convex to nearly round when young, becoming broadly convex, flat, or very broadly bell-shaped; dry; soft; bald and brown to orangish brown when in the button stage, but soon breaking up so that the center remains smooth (or cracked) and brown but the rest of the surface consists of shaggy scales with brownish tips over a whitish, fibrillose background.
Free from the stem; close or nearly crowded; short-gills frequent; white or, in maturity, pale brownish; often with brownish edges.
6–21 cm long; 1.5–3.5 cm thick; club-shaped, with a basal bulb that is gradually swollen; bald; whitish above the ring, brownish below; bruising and discoloring brown to brownish; with a high, whitish, double-edged, moveable ring that features a brownish edge on the underside; basal mycelium white.
Whitish to pale brownish; staining pinkish-orange to reddish, then slowly brownish when sliced (especially near the apex of the stem); thick.
Spore Print: White.
Chlorophyllum rhacodes Look-Alikes
The Brown Parasol (Chlorophyllum brunneum) looks remarkably similar and is now considered poisonous. The ring of the Brown Parasol is simpler than the Shaggy Parasol, having only a single layer. The base of the Brown Parasol's stem abruptly turns into a swollen bulb, whereas the bulbous base of the Shaggy Parasol is more graduated at the base of the stem.
Lepiotas or Dapperlings, most of which are poisonous, could be confused with Parasols. These are much smaller, however, so only pick Shaggy Parasols that have caps that are at least 12cm in diameter.
Shaggy Parasols could also be confused with Parasols. However, these do not bruise orange-red and have a snakeskin pattern on the stem, and are edible
Chlorophyllum rhacodes Taxonomy
The taxonomy of this species has changed recently. As a result of molecular studies (DNA analysis), in 2003 the genus Macrolepiota was split up and the Shaggy Parasol was transferred to the genus Chlorophyllum, where it resides with other poisonous parasol-like mushrooms. (Macrolepiota procera, the popular edible Parasol, stayed put!)
The lovely specimen above demonstrates that the Shaggy Parasol can occasionally be an exquisitely beautiful mushroom.
Described under the name Agaricus rhacodes by Carlo Vittadini (1800 - 1865) in 1835, this large and stocky mushroom has since spent time in the general Lepiota and Macrolepiota until, in 2002, DNA study by Else C Vellinga of the University of California justified its transportation to the genus Chlorophyllum. Common synonyms of Chlorophyllum rhacodes include Agaricus rhacodes Vittad., Lepiota rhacodes (Vittad.) Quél., Lepiota procera var. rhacodes (Vittad.) Massee, Macrolepiota rhacodes (Vittad.) Singer, and Macrolepiota venenata Bon.
Chlorophyllum rhacodes Etymology
The generic name Chlorophyllum means "with green gills" and is a reference to the green-gilled poisonous mushroom Chlorophyllum molybdites, which is common in North America. Other species in this genus have white spores, as indeed does Chlorophyllum rhacodes.
Carlo Vittadini erroneously transcribed the Greek word rhakos, meaning rag - a piece of cloth, to the Latinised form rachos, resulting in the specific epitet rachodes rather than rhacodes. Some reference texts that you may come across may therefore use the scientific name Chlorophyllum rachodes for this species.
Chlorophyllum rhacodes Cooking Notes
The shaggy parasol is popularly praised as a choice edible mushroom. However, it contains toxins which can cause gastric upsets when eaten raw or undercooked, and some individuals show a strong allergic response even after cooking.
The flavor of shaggy parasol is described as strong, earthy and nutlike. It goes well with grains and starches. Use only the caps, as the stems are too tough. There are not many recipes in mushroom cookbooks for the edible parasol.
Recipe: Shaggy Parasol and Potato Soup
2 slices chopped bacon
3 T butter
1 large thinly sliced leek, white part only
4 C potatoes, cut in ½" cubes
2 C chopped shaggy parasol mushroom
3-1/2 C stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground white pepper
½ t salt
1-1/2 C cream
chopped fresh chives for garnish
How to cook
Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over a medium flame until almost crisp.
Add the butter and saute the leek until it is limp and turning yellow.
Add the potatoes and mushrooms.
Stir and cook for a few minutes.
Add the stock and spices.
Turn the heat up, bring to a boil for one minute, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are quite tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from stove.
Puree ½ the soup in a blender. Return all to the stove and add the cream.
Recipe: Cornmeal Fried Shaggy Parasols
8 shaggy parasol mushrooms, harvested before the caps open, brushed clean, stems peeled
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon smoked paprika, or more to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder, or more to taste
2 cups fine cornmeal
2 cups coarse cornmeal (polenta)
Unsalted butter, as needed for frying the mushrooms
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
Wedges of lemon, to serve, (optional)
How to cook
Beat the eggs with the water and reserve. Mix the corn meals, paprika, pepper, and garlic powder and reserve.
Halve the mushrooms.
Melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a cast iron skillet or a wide saute pan on medium heat, when it’s hot, place the mushrooms in the beaten egg to coat. then dredge thoroughly in the cornmeal. Tap off excess cornmeal from the mushrooms, then place in the pan. Season the mushrooms with salt, then fry until golden and crisp. Flip the mushrooms and caramelize the other side.
When the mushrooms are fully cooked and hot throughout, about 5-10 minutes, remove them and place on paper towels to drain excess fat, then serve immediately with a lemon wedge on the side.
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