What You Should Know
Pluteus cervinus is an edible a wood-rotting mushroom that occurs mainly on hardwood stumps. This fungus can appear at any time from late spring through to late autumn. It is an extremely common mushroom in the midwestern and eastern parts of North America, and can be common elsewhere as well.
The Deer Mushroom’s cap is smooth and is usually some shade of light brown, though field guides often prefer to describe the color as “fawn” in reference to its common and scientific names (cervinus is derived from the scientific name for the deer family). The color is variable and can be nearly white to dark brown, sometimes with tones of grey or olive.
Other names: Fawn Mushroom, Deer Mushroom, Rehbrauner Dachpilz (German).
Pluteus cervinus Mushroom Identification
Cap 5-13 cm broad, convex, nearly plane in age, umbonate; dark brown to gray-brown, lighter in age; smooth to faintly fibrillose, moist; flesh soft, white; odor of radish.
Gills free, close, white, becoming pinkish to flesh-colored at maturity.
Stipe 5-12 cm tall, 0.7-1.7 cm thick, equal to enlarged at base; white to pallid, sometimes with dark fibrils; veil absent.
Spores 5.0-7.5 x 4-6 µm, smooth, elliptical. Spore print salmon-pink.
Solitary to scattered on hardwood and conifer logs, occasionally from buried wood, in sawdust piles or wood chips; fruiting from after the first fall rains through mid-winter.
Pluteus cervinus Taxonomy and Etymology
Originally described in 1762 by Jacob Christian Schaeffer, who called it Agaricus cervinus (most gilled fungi were placed in one gigantic Agaricus genus in the early days of taxonomy), the Deer Shield was given its present scientific name by the famous German mycologist Paul Kummer in 1871.
Synonyms of Pluteus cervinus include Agaricus cervinus Schaeff., Agaricus pluteus Batsch, Agaricus atricapillus Batsch, Agaricus curtisii Berk. & Broome, Pluteus curtisii (Berk. & Broome) Sacc., Pluteus bullii (Cooke) Rea, and Pluteus atricapillus (Batsch) Fayod.
Pluteus, the genus name, comes from Latin and literally means a protective fence or screen - a shield for example. The specific epithet cervinus comes from the Latin cervus, a deer, and is most likely a reference not to the fawn (deer-like) color of the caps but to antler-like 'horns' on the tips of the gill-edge cheilocystidia - sterile cells on the edges projecting from the edges of the gills.
Pluteus cervinus Cooking Notes
This mushroom is not highly rated and there are reports of some people being ill after eating this species.
The Deer Mushroom does not have very many fans because of its uninspiring flavor and brittle texture.
Pluteus cervinus spoils very quickly in warm weather, so it should be refrigerated as soon as possible after being picked. Insects enjoy eating these mushrooms and older specimens are often quite buggy. Therefore, only young and fresh mushrooms should be picked.
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