The Shaggy parasol
is the common name
for two closely related species of mushrooms
, Chlorophyllum rhacodes
and C. brunneum
, found in North America
(the latter species is also found in Australia
and C. brunneum
were formerly known as Macrolepiota rhacodes
or Lepiota rhacodes
, but the name was changed on the basis of molecular phylogenetic
evidence demonstrating a closer relationship to Chlorophyllum molybdites
than to Macrolepiota procera
. The subspecies Macrolepiota rhacodes
was also elevated to species status as Chlorophylum brunneum
Many older reference books spell the epithet "rachodes" rather than "rhacodes". The spelling "rachodes" was used by Vittadini when he first published the species in 1835, but is erroneous as the Greek word rhakos 'piece of cloth' should be transcribed as rhacos.
The shaggy parasol is a large and conspicuous agaric
, with thick brown scales
and protuberances on its fleshy white cap
. The gills and spore print
are both white in colour. Its stipe
is slender, but bulbous at the base, is coloured uniformly and bears no patterns. It is fleshy, and a reddish
, or maroon
discoloration occurs and a pungent odour is evolved when it is cut. The egg
-shaped caps become wider and flatter as they mature.
The stem of M. rhacodes grows to 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) tall. The cap grows to 7.5 to 20 cm (3 to 8 in) across, while the stipe has a diameter of 1 to 2 centimetres.
The shaggy parasol is popularly praised as a choice edible mushroom. However it contains toxins which can cause gastric upsets when eaten raw or undercooked, and some individuals show a strong allergic response even after cooking.
Furthermore, young shaggy parasols look identical to the poisonous Chlorophyllum molybdites (the mushroom that causes the most poisonings in North America yearly). Checking the spore print is essential as C. molybdites' print is green (older specimens have slightly green gills). As a result, this mushroom is not recommended for inexperienced hunters.
The shaggy parasol is similar in appearance to the similarly edible parasol mushroom
, Macrolepiota procera
. The latter grows considerably larger however, and is more likely to be found in the open than M. rhacodes
which prefers more shade
and dislikes open pastures
. Another distinguishing feature is that M. rhacodes
lacks the brown bands that are on the stem of M. procera
- Collins Gem Guide: Mushrooms and Toadstools, Stefan Buczacki 1982.
- The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, Knopf Publishing
- The Mushroom Book, Thomas Læssøe & Anna Del Conte, Dorling Kindersley, 1996.