Agaricus campestris, the Meadow Mushroom
I was listing to NPR the other day while they were interviewing a rap singer who talked about some of the different categories of rap but never mentioned mushroom rap. Really?, with so many mushroom species one might think there would be a nearly endless source of mushroom material available to rap about. So, having realized this unfortunate oversight, I decided to break the ice with what might be the first mushroom rap.
Rappin’ About Mushrooms
I’m lookin’ out my window but I don’t see rain,
Mushrooms aren’t poppin’ and I feel their pain,
I’m thinkin’ Mother Nature might have gone insane,
Huntin’ in the mountains would be all in vain,
I saw a little white hump down on Cherry Lane,
I thought my eyes were just yankin’ my chain,
Or something went wrong inside my brain,
So I blinked my eyes and I looked again,
It was growin’ in the grass by a roadside drain,
I picked it and I rubbed it but it wouldn’t stain,
A small little mushroom but I can’t complain,
I grabbed my book so I could explain,
What I just found and give it a name,
An Agaricus species is what I ascertained,
I was hopin’ for Boletus but I showed restrain,
With gills so pink and a grassy terrain,
A baby Meadow Mushroom was the best I could attain,
So I ate it last night with a glass of champagne,
A nice way to start a mushroom rappin’ campaign.
All I need now is a solid mushroom rap category name like Mushrap, or Fungalrap, or maybe something a little more hard-hitting like Deathcaprap. In any event, I think I’ve now got the ball rolling and we’ll see where this may go from here.
Otherwise, while this mushroom season has certainly not been one to crow about, there are still a few bright spots in this otherwise challenging fall season. Honestly, I’m still looking for some of those bright spots but I did find a small crop of Meadow Mushrooms (Agaricus campestris) right in our neighborhood. In talking to some of Eugene’s long time mushroom hunters, the Meadow Mushroom was quite common in urban/suburban areas until the Yellow Stainer (Agaricus xanthodermus) started taking over. The Meadow Mushroom certainly does not have the size nor aggressive nature of the Yellow Stainer, which may have helped quickened its demise in our area. Besides size, a major telling difference between these two is only the Yellow Stainer stains yellow (no surprise there) when scratched. The Yellow Stainer also has an unpleasant aroma whereas the Meadow Mushroom smells more like the common store-bought white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus).
The cap of the Meadow Mushroom is white when young and the gills start out pink, even when the cap is fully closed. In our area of Eugene, the cap size of the mature mushrooms I find are no more than 3-inches in diameter. The cap does not stain yellow when bruised or scratched and scratching and sniffing the base of the stem or cap elicits a pleasant mushroom aroma. As with other Agaricus species in our area, this one is saprotrophic, digesting organic matter in the ground, and its gills become chocolate brown at maturity. Since the Meadow Mushroom seems to be quite scarce in our area, I typically leave it undisturbed in favor of other, more plentiful mushrooms.
A quick check of iNaturalist.org zoomed in on the Eugene area shows the Meadow Mushroom has certainly been found in various locations in our immediate area. Beyond Eugene, it has been reported quite a bit all along the I-5 corridor from Portland to our southern border with California.
Another white mushroom that may initially catch your attention is the ubiquitous puffball. This one looks to be the Gem Studded puffball (Lycoperdon Perlatum). It is also edible when young and has a very solid white interior. Just be careful where you pick your urban/suburban mushrooms as some homeowners tend to use a variety of nasty chemicals on their lawn. A brownish, unkept, tragic looking lawn is what you want to look for if you intend to pick and eat a locally obtained mushroom.
Finally, I simply could not end without including a photo of this extremely cute little salamander commonly called the Rough Skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa). I typically find them early in the morning when I lift one of our outside collecting containers for recycling, trash, or yard waste. I am always careful not to slide the containers as this would do great harm to these little guys. When we do find one, we relocate it to one of our simulated woodland areas in our backyard. Hopefully they will enjoy that environment far more than huddling under one of our collection containers.
Remember to take time and take a woodland hike when you have a chance. Even if you don’t find any edible mushrooms, there is no bad day interacting with nature.
P.S. An informative video from the UK on identifying this mushrooms.