Species: Agaricus Californicus
Star sign: Virgo
Ideal date: Deep convo on a damp log
A flush of mushrooms spring up on one of the cedars between the library and Vollum. Brought in by recent rains, these beautiful, fungal friends caught the attention of plenty of folks walking by. As I started taking photographs, I did my best to identify them. The mushrooms have modest skirts around the stem and beautiful, detached pink gills. Originally, I thought rather excitedly that I may have found a massive crop of Agaricus Campestris, a delicious relative of the commercially available white button, commonly known as the “meadow mushroom.” As a budding mycologist, I quickly took to Google to make sure that what I suspected to be a delicious meal was not, in reality, a painful and deadly mistake. I was especially scared of the Agaricus Xanthodermus, the species after which the Xanthodermatei, an especially vomit-inducing section of the genus Agaricus, is named. Thankfully, Agaricus Xanthodermus has a tell-tale sign: evident in its common name “yellow-stainer,” when you scratch its bell it instantly turns bright yellow. After some cautious mushroom-scratching I didn’t see much of a change, so I kept taking photos and dreaming of fried mushrooms. About a minute later, I noticed that the scratches on the mushroom had turned a little off-white. Not the signature neon-yellow of Agaricus Xanthodermus, but not a good sign. After splitting one of the young, yet unopened, mushroom caps down the center, my suspicions were confirmed. An Agaricus Campestris should have bright pink gills even in the youngest stages of its life. This young mushroom had pale, almost white gills inside, a sure indicator that this was Agaricus Californicus, a member of the section Xanthodermei and definitely not a tasty snack.