The Prince / Princess, Agaricus augustus / Agaricus lanipes
The Prince, Agaricus augustus, and it's close relative, the Princess (Agaricus lanipes) are delicious edible members of the Agaric genus of mushrooms. Both are related to the cultivated mushrooms you find in shops and supermarkets. Commonly found in mixed woodland from late Summer through to late Autumn, particularly under conifers, The Prince can grow quite large, with an average height and cap diameter of 20 cm. One of it's most identifiable features is the chestnut brown concentric scale pattern on the cap and the prominent skirt that is often found on the stem, which is usually bulbous at the base. The gills of this mushroom are tightly packed together and not attached to the stem. They are pink at first, before turning grey, then dark brown-black with age. The flesh of The Prince is white, occasionally with a slight yellow tinge, and also smells of bitter almonds. The Princess is very similar, only smaller, and stains red when cut or bruised.
The Prince / Princess Checklist
🌳 Deciduous Woodland
🌲 Coniferous Woodland
🔗 Often found in association with conifer trees.
🍂❄️ Between July and November
📈 Grows singly, or in small groups, usually at the base of conifers.
🍄 Rounded when young, but becoming convex and flat when mature. The cap is white to pale yellow and covered in concentric chestnut brown scales.
⚛️ Starting off pink, later turning chestnut brown. Crowded.
♊️ Thick, white, and bulbous at the base. Has a prominent skirt.
⚪️ The flesh is thick, white and firm.
🟨 The Prince sometimes bruises slightly yellow when cut.
🟥 The Princess bruises red when cut.
Aroma / Taste
👃 Both smell unique - of bitter almonds.
👅 Both taste of almonds and mushrooms.
😋 Both are choice edible mushrooms.
🟧 ID Difficulty - Intermediate
👀 The large size, prominent skirt, and chestnut coloured concentric scales are key identifiers of these mushrooms.
👃 The bitter almond smell is a key identifier of this mushroom.
⛔️ These are two of the easier Agarics to identify. I have introduced these mushrooms to Arthur, but would always ID them myself before allowing him to pick them for the basket under close supervision.
There are number of toxic Agarics out there, so it's important to follow these simple rules before attempting to pick and eat any:
✅ Make sure you have an Agaric and not an Amanita - if there is a "sac" at the base of the mushroom, leave it where it is!
✅ Many of the best edible Agarics will have pink gills when young, that turn a darker brown in later life, so if the mushroom has any other colour gills, especially white ones, leave it where it is!
✅ Toxic Agarics often let you know that they're not good to eat by emitting a strong chemical smell. If it smells whiffy and not like a tasty mushroom, leave it where it is!
☠ One particular species of Agaric that is often confused with edible varieties is the "Yellow Stainer", Agaricus xanthodermus. This mushroom is white and stains very bright yellow if you scratch the cap.
These rules are applicable to other popular edible Agarics, including the Field and Horse Mushrooms, too.
🍄 Fungi - Used in mushroom recipes.