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Horse Mushroom

Edible Edible
Autumn Autumn
Spring Spring
Summer Summer

A great mushroom with a rich, strong taste and as it can grow so large and in rings, usually provides quite a feast.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Horse Mushroom (EN), Abrahams, Caws Ceffyl (CY), Pieczarka Biaława (PL), Erdőszéli Csiperke (HU)
Scientific Name Agaricus arvensis
Season Start May
Season End Oct
Average Mushroom height (CM) 10-16
Average Cap width (CM) 10-16
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Cap

10-16 cm. White, sometimes discoloured grey/brown, can be scaly or smooth. Starting spherical and opening out flat. Can bruise slightly yellow.

Gills

Crowded and free of the stem. When very young the gills are almost white but quickly turn from pale pink/grey to brown in more mature specimens. On unopened caps, the ring while still joined to the cap, looks like a ‘cog wheel’.

Stem

10-16 cm long, 2-3 cm diameter. Smooth and white with a double edged ring, can be finely flocculose toward the base.

Skirt

Superior. Can start fairly large but usually becomes damaged or shrinks to a ring. Has a double edge.

Flesh

White, firm and bruising slightly yellow. The flesh has an aniseed smell.

Habitat

Pasture, meadows, lawns, road verges and parks, often growing in rings.

Possible Confusion

The Yellow Stainer (Agaricus xanthodermus) but this mushroom stains chrome yellow when bruised or cut and smells of Indian ink, hospitals or iodine and is not edible. 
The Macro Mushroom (Agaricus crocodilinus) looks very similar but has a stouter stem covered in floccules below the skirt and more of a bitter almond aroma although some people smell aniseed only. This wouldn’t be a dangerous mistake, the Macro Mushroom is a great edible Agaric.
Can look similar to some of the Amanitas when young and light gilled but the Horse Mushroom does not have the bulbous base or volval sack that Amanitas have.

Spore Print

Dark purple/brown. Ellipsoid. You should scrape your spores into a small pile to get an accurate spore colour.

Taste / Smell

Excellent, this is one of our  favourites. The smell of aniseed is a good way to identify this mushroom. Should be cooked before consumption.

Frequency

Common.

COMMENTS

15 comments for Horse Mushroom

  1. Catherine Davies says:

    Just found the Horse Mushroom it in my very isolated garden in the Isle of Harris, delicious! No idea how it suddenly appeared there.

  2. Clare says:

    I remember field mushrooms and would like to grow them in a wild area I have. Please help. Thank you so much. Roger

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It is very difficult but not impossible to propagate mushrooms. I usually put mushrooms I’m not going to eat that are left over or in poor condition gills down in an environment they like. I’ve been successful about 1 in 500 times with that method! Eric.

  3. stephen Jones says:

    How do I propagate horse mushrooms.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Hi Stephen, it is very difficult but not impossible to propagate mushrooms. I usually put mushrooms I’m not going to eat that are left over or in poor condition gills down in an environment they like. I’ve been successful about 1 in 500 times with that method! Eric.

  4. Margret Barnes says:

    Thanks for a very helpful demo helping me identify the mushrooms growing on the edge of the woods near my home in Somerset, August 2019. Pretty sure they are young unopened horsemushrooms

  5. Grace Ann Jones says:

    Got excited when we thought we had a big crop of horse mushrooms growing in a border in our garden, on closer inspection we now think they are yellow Staines, as when brushed they go yellow and have an unpleasant smell. Very disappointed as this is the second large crop. Having picked and eaten horse mushrooms as a child in our local fields, thought I was on to a winner, sadly disappointed.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Hi Grace, don’t be disheartened, Horse Mushrooms are common I’m sure you’ll find some next season.

  6. timothy clegg says:

    Hello, I recently came across a good crop of what I took to be either horse or large field mushrooms growing in the open in a field often used for sheep. There were some shaggy parasols nearby, a bit decayed. I picked some of the ‘field/horse’ mushrooms. They did not seem to stain yellow but toward the tip of the cap turned slightly yellow/gold on the skin. I continued to walk and soon came across a large number of yellow stainers growing in clumps and circles underneath trees; these stained yellow immediately on bruising. I am now uncertain whether the field/horse mushrooms I picked may also be yellow stainers which for some reason do not stain yellow, possibly because of their open ground habitat. DO YELLOW STAINERS ALWAYS STAIN YELLOW? CAN FIELD/HORSE MUSHROOMS GROW IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO YELLOW STAINERS? WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS IF YOU MISTAKENLY EAT YELLOW STAINERS ?
    Thanks, response much appreciated.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Yellow Stainers do not always stain yellow but will retain a ink or phenol like smell which is enhanced by cooking. They cause alarming symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and sweats but do not affect everybody and a full recovery is usually achieved in a couple of days. Horse Mushrooms can bruise slightly yellow and will grow in the same area as Yellow Stainers, smell is the key identification between these two mushrooms with the Horse Mushroom smelling of aniseed.

  7. M Buter says:

    These are very common in parks in Berlin. The smell, besides anise, also reminds me of marzipan. I tried a little, and it tasted great. Still, I threw away the lot after reading about its tendency to absorb excessive amounts of cadmium and mercury. From random samples taken in the rural region of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, they measured roughly 60 mg of cadmium per kg (dried) of agaricus arvensis (here’s a link to the research, note that horse mushroom is “Anischampignon” in German: http://www.lvps.de/MBl%2017%20Schwermetalle%201993-99%20ST.pdf). According to WHO recommendation the consumption of up to 0,5 mg cadmium per week is okay, which translates to just about 10 grams (dried) of horse mushroom. They also contain high agaritine levels (although most that you can cook out).

    I concluded for myself that, at least in the city, the chance that these are unhealthy isn’t worth the risk. Even in rural areas, it may be advisable not to eat too many of them at one time.

  8. Sam T says:

    Found a couple of these in the local park. Left 50% but went back a week later to find the remainder had been mown by the council!

    Had an exceptionally lovely aniseed smell and very rich mushroomy taste on toast. Hoping they’ll spring up next year and I can get to them before the council mows!

  9. riffit khan says:

    I found a number of the arventis a couple of days ago. The smell of aniseed was distinct. However when I took it home and started to slice it I could no longer smell the aniseed. Is this to be expected? This has been the second time I have had this happen. I threw the first lot away as I wasn’t sure about them. I’m loathed to throw these and I’m hoping you could throw some light on this matter of the smell.
    Thank you

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The thing to be worried about with Agarics is if they smell of ink, phenol or just chemical like, especially when cooked. They will also yellow in the pan if they are are Yellow Stainers.

  10. Alex says:

    hi, I’ve seen on your videos that smelling mushrooms is important, for example do they smell of aniseed, mushroomy or inky and horrible. my question is if you smelt a poisonous mushroom, could you sniff up spores, and then potentially digest or ingest them, resulting in poisoning, similar to if you had ate them?

    sorry probably a really silly question but one that’s been on my mind

    thanks

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