Agaricus silvaticus Schaeff. - Blushing Wood Mushroom

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Agaricaceae

Agaricus silvaticus - Blushing Wood Mushroom, young specimens

Agaricus silvaticus is sometimes referred to as the Red Staining Mushroom, because the cap and stipe turn bright red if they are scratched or broken. It is an edible species, although far from common and hence distrusted by many fungi foragers. An alternative spelling Agaricus sylvaticus is equally common; this 'orthographic form' is preferred by some authorities including Geoffrey Kibby and is the spelling used on Index Fungorum. At the time of writing the majority of online resources including the British Mycological Society use the form 'silvaticus'.

Several of the Agaricus mushrooms that occur in woodland habitats have flesh that turns slightly red when cut or bruised, but none changes colour as rapidly and easily as the aptly-named Blushing Wood Mushroom.

Agaricus silvaticus - Blushing Wood Mushroom, an old fruitbody

Distribution

A fairly common but localised woodland mushroom in Britain and Ireland, Agaricus silvaticus occurs also in mainland Europe as well as other regions of the world including parts of North America. The specimens shown on this page were photographed in Wales, UK.

Agaricus silvaticus is sometimes confused with Agaricus langei, the Scaly Wood Mushroom, which also turns reddish when cut or bruised.

Taxonomic history

In 1762, famous German mycologist Jacob Christian Schaeffer described this mushroom and gave it its currently-accepted scIentific name Agaricus silvaticus.

Etymology

The specifIc epithet silvaticus means 'of woods'.

Identification guide

Young cap of Agaricus silvaticus, Blushing Wood Mushroom

Cap

Agaricus silvaticus has a cap diameter of 7 to 15cm. Domed at first, the scaly cap expands until it is almost flat.

Beneath the surface, which is light russet-brown and  covered with reddish-brown scales that are more dense towards the middle of the cap, the flesh is white. Upon cutting the thin, firm cap flesh it turns red and eventually brown.

Gills and stem of Agaricus silvicola, Blushing Wood Mushroom

Gills

Initially pink, the free, crowded gills turn redder and then dark brown as the spores mature.

Stem base of Agaricus silvaticus

Stem

The stem, which is 1 to 1.2cm in diameter, is more or less parallel sided above a slightly swollen or bulbous base. When cutor bruised, the solid stem flesh turns red and eventually brown.

Above the large, floppy single ring the stem is smooth, while below the ring it is finely scaly.

Spore of Agaricus silvaticus

Spores

Ovoid, 4.5-6.5 x 3.2-4.2µm. (The otherwise similar Agaricus langei has much larger spores - an important feature when trying to distinguish between these two 'red-blushing' Agaricus species.)

Show larger image

Spore print

Chocolate brown.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Often in groups in mixed woodland and under trees in parks.

Season

August to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Agaricus haemorrhoidarius is very similar (and many authorities consider it to be synonymous), with grey-brown scales and a stouter stem; it occurs also under broad-leaved trees, notably oak and beech.

Culinary Notes

This large and fairly common woodland mushroom is generally considered a good edible species, and since its flesh turns red rather than yellow when cut it is easy to avoid confusion with the Yellow Stainer Agaricus xanthodermus.

Reference Sources

Pat O'Reilly (2016) Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd edition; First Nature

BMS List of English Names for Fungi

The genus Agaricus in Britain, 3rd Edition, self-published, Geoffrey Kibby 2011

Funga Nordica: 2nd edition 2012. Edited by Knudsen, H. & Vesterholt, J. ISBN 9788798396130

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes some pictures kindly provided by Simon Harding and David Kelly.

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