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Agaricus bernardii Quél. - Salty Mushroom

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

Agaricus bernardii

Distinctive large brown cap scales and a coastal grassland habitat make this a fairly easy species to identify.

Distribution

Being remarkably tolerant of salt-laden air, this large edible mushroom is occasionally seen in sand-dune grassland very close to beaches. The specimen shown abovew was seen on the west coast of France.

Salty Mushrooms can occur as solitary specimens, but more often they are in groups jostling one another for space, and as a result some of the caps develop contorted margins.

Taxonomic history

Described and given the scientific name Agaricus bernardi by Lucien Quélet (often written as Quelet without the accent) in 1878, the Salty Mushroom looks similar to several other species, but its reddening flesh (when cut) is at least some help towards identification. The currently-accepted scientific name Agaricus bernardii dates from an 1878 publication by Lucien Quélet.

Synonyms of Agaricus bernardii include Psalliota bernardi Quél., Fungus bernardii (Quél.) Kuntze and Agaricus campestris subsp. bernardii (Quél.) Konrad & Maubl.

Etymology

The specific epithet bernardii is a reference to G. Bernard, the finder of the collection from La Rochelle, France, that was used by Lucien Quélet in producing his original description of this species as Psaliota bernardii.

Identification guide

Agaricus bernardii, cap

Cap

7 to 15cm across; initially hemispherical, becoming convex; surface background white, covered in coarse brown scales that give it a cracked appearance; margin slightly inrolled; white flesh turns reddish when cut.

Agaricus bernardii, cap gills and stem

Gills

Free; crowded; pink, becoming chocolate-brown as the spores mature.

Stem

4 to 8cm long and 2 to 4cm diameter; narrow sheathing ring with an upturned rim.

Spore of Agaricus bernardii

Spores

Broadly ovoid, 5.5-7 x 5-5.5µm.

Show larger image

Spore print

Chocolate-brown.

Odour/taste

Taste not distinctive. Strong odour of aniseed.

Habitat & Ecological role

In grassland, including coastal dune slacks.

Season

July to November.

Occurrence

Infrequent.

Similar species

The Prince Agaricus augustus is usually somewhat larger and has a purple-brown spore print; it is a mushroom of forests and woodland edges.

Culinary Notes

Pewrhaps because it is an uncommon find, Agaricus bernardii is is not generaly considered to be a highly-prized edible mushroom.

Reference Sources

Pat O'Reilly (2016) Fascinated by Fungi; First Nature

BMS List of English Names for Fungi

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

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.

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