June 7, 2021
Good afternoon friends,
This week’s mushroom is Agaricus subrufescens, commonly known as the Almond mushroom or God’s Mushroom (you’ll see this mushroom appears to possess divine qualities). Eric found this mushroom in the North Woods on 5/24/2021. What was most interesting about this find, in my opinion, was that it was in the midst of that three-week dry spell we had so the fungus obtained water from deep in the soil to produce these gregarious mushrooms. The mushrooms were growing at the base of a large oak (Quercus) so there’s also a possibility the oak provided the water through a mycorrhizal relationship as well.
As is the case with some – perhaps most – of these mushrooms it’s impossible for me to be 100% certain about this identification. I did use the New York Mycological Society combined checklist (http://newyorkmyc.org/nyc-combined-checklist/) to compare this mushroom with every Agaricus found in the city, and this was the closest fit in terms of identifying characteristics. I’m also a touch biased because A. subrufescens is an awesome mushroom and I want to write about it.A. subrufescens was first described by Charles H. Peck in 1893 and has since been cultivated across the globe for its medicinal properties. Originally identified in the northeastern US, it has since been found on every continent besides Africa and Antarctica. It’s typically found in leaf litter in domestic habitats – such as urban or suburban parks. One neat thing about this mushroom is that it grows with a partial veil – a thin membrane that protects the young mushroom’s gills – and the third picture shows white flaps which are remnants of that partial veil.
A. subrufescens is a relatively new medicinal mushroom (~130 years since its discovery) but its popularity is rapidly increasing. If you look at my third reference from PubMed Central – part of the National Institute of Health – it compiles all the medicinal properties of this mushroom found in credible scientific studies. These properties include tumor growth reduction, immunomodulatory activities, immunostimulatory effects, antimicrobial activities, antiviral activities, and even anti-allergy effects. All of those benefits are why it has taken off as a medicinal supplement. However, there are also preliminary studies that show Agaricus products can have adverse side effects on people with liver issues or create allergic reactions in some individuals. It appears we are still a ways away from legitimate clinical trials that would allow the FDA to acknowledge the medicinal claims, but we’ll get there one day. Nonetheless, a lot of beneficial compounds are wrapped up in this mushroom – and it’s a close relative to the common button mushroom you see in the supermarket (A. bisporus). Perhaps this will provide motivation to pick some up next time you see them.
Have a charming week,
PS. If you’re interested in the full medicinal properties breakdown the last two references go into deep detail.