Shaggy Parasol (Chlorophyllum rhacodes)
- Similar Species
- Preserving (Drying or Freezing)
- Recipe Suggestions
Shaggy parasol is the common name for three closely related species of mushroom, Chlorophyllum rhacodes (or rachodes), C. olivieri and C. brunneum, found in North America, Europe and Southern Africa (the latter species is also found in Australia).
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 stipe of C. rhacodes grows to 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) tall and has a diameter of 1 to 2 centimetres. The cap grows to 7.5 to 20 cm (3.0 to 7.9 in) across.
- The most important trait is that these have white spores-molybdites has noticeably green ones. This means you have to collect a few mature mushrooms with opened caps for spore printing to know exactly what you’re eating. You need to see the color of their spores. Since there are usually varying ages in the same patch, this isn’t difficult at all. You can of course look for a “natural” spore print on the top of caps surrounding mature mushrooms too.
- Mature shaggy parasols will not have a broad, cone-like shape to their cap
- The cap is shaggy, really shaggy, meaning it’s covered with little bits of fluff. If you know the difference between a shaggy mane and an alcohol inky, you won’t have a problem here. Molybdites doesn’t have brown scales as pronounced as our tasty parasol from my experience. Here’s a picture of what I mean.
- Young will bruise a saffron color when their stem is sliced, which eventually turns to dark red.
- The bottom of the stem should be a bit bulbous.
Conifers. I commonly find large fruitings under blue spruce trees i n the Mid-Western US in the fall.
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 C. rhacodes which prefers more shade and dislikes open pastures and fields. Another distinguishing feature is that C. rhacodes lacks the brown bands that are on the stem of M. procera.
Sometimes even the bolete species “Old Man of the Woods” can look similar:
Preserving (Drying or Freezing):
They’re excellent, and like most shrooms, the younger they are, the better they eat. Their flavor is similar to Agaric species, I’ve tried, like the meadow mushroom, mild and pleasant, and rich when caramelized-the biggest difference is heir long stem needs a little tlc.
Just like Leccinum species, the stem is tougher than the cap, and requires longer cooking. To get by this you can trim the stem down a few inches, or simply twist the stem off, then dice it, and cook it alongside the caps, or incorporate the cooked stem into a stuffing for the caps, which is traditional. The stem can also be peeled gently like you might a large honey mushroom, which helps it cook evenly, and is the technique I employ in the recipe below.
CORNMEAL FRIED SHAGGY PARASOLS
A simple way to enjoy these. First the stem is peeled to help it cook at the same speed as the cap, then the mushrooms are lightly battered, dredged in seasoned cornmeal and fried. Less is more.
I like to use a mix of fine and coarse cornmeal for frying stuff like this, the combination of both is better than using only corn flour, and much less irritating on the teeth than using just coarse ground cornmeal.
- 8 shaggy parasol mushrooms, harvested before the caps open, brushed clean, stems peeled
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, or more to taste
- 2 cups fine cornmeal
- 2 cups coarse cornmeal (polenta)
- Unsalted butter, as needed for frying the mushrooms
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon water
- Wedges of lemon, to serve, (optional)
- Beat the eggs with the water and reserve. Mix the corn meals, paprika, pepper, and garlic powder and reserve.
- Halve the mushrooms.
- Melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a cast iron skillet or a wide saute pan on medium heat, when it’s hot, place the mushrooms in the beaten egg to coat. then dredge thoroughly in the cornmeal. Tap off excess cornmeal from the mushrooms, then place in the pan. Season the mushrooms with salt, then fry until golden and crisp. Flip the mushrooms and caramelize the other side.
- When the mushrooms are fully cooked and hot throughout, about 5-10 minutes, remove them and place on paper towels to drain excess fat, then serve immediately with a lemon wedge on the side.