The mushrooms above are commonly called “Horse Mushrooms”. These are huge, delicious wild relatives of your regular store-bought “button mushroom”. They smell like sweet, fruity almonds. They’re big, dinner plate sized. In eastern North America, where I come from, we have always used the scientific name Agaricus arvensis for these, but now we know that this is a species complex, meaning that there are many different species that look alike and it’s not easy to exactly tell them apart but…someday we’ll have a more precise scientific name for these ( Agaricus fissuratus and others)…for today they will remain Horse Mushrooms.
I use the common name today partly because I don’t really want to talk about the mushrooms so much as I want to talk about the gills of this mushroom and ONE MORE MYCO-DEFORMITY. It may seem like I’m obsessed with the things that can go wrong with mushrooms and maybe that’s true. Don’t judge me. Things do go wrong sometimes. Today’s’ weirdness is about the gills of some Horse Mushrooms and a common freakification of those gills. I know freakification isn’t a REAL word! Bear with me….Lookie here- The gills of this Horse Mushroom have been colonized and deformed beyond recognition by SOMETHING…I’m not sure what? This happens frequently during spells of wet cool Fall weather when Horse Mushrooms often fruit. Normal gills for this mushroom should look like those at the top of the page…smooth, blade-like structures under the cap that fan out from the stipe (stem) to the outer edge of the cap. If you think you know what this myco-deformity is PLEASE leave a comment for me. I’ve found this condition on Horse Mushrooms for 20 years and I still don’t have a good explanation and it would be great to know what’s happening to my wild Horses. I’m going to try and leave aberrant mushrooms for awhile as I try to return to my neglected blog but I can’t make any promises…they may come back for a return engagement. I recently found what looks like the same thing on a unrelated fungus, Piptiporus (Fomitopsis) betulina, AKA The Birch Polypore. Maybe I’ll bring that up on another post. Here’s one final close look at the deformed gills of the common Horse Mushroom, another beautiful example of mycological weirdness-