This section is from the book "Our Edible Toadstools and Mushrooms and How to Distinguish Them", by W. Hamilton Gibson. Also available from Amazon: Our Edible Toadstools And Mushrooms And How To Distinguish Them.
One of the most readily recognized of our wild mushrooms is the pasture or parasol Agaric (Agaricus procerus), a cluster of which in various stages of development is shown in Plate 10. It is frequently abundant in pasture-lands, and is occasionally found in woods. Its conspicuous cap sometimes measures six inches or more in diameter, the centre being abruptly raised in a mound. The pileus is at first egg-shaped. The color of the full specimen is pale-brown or buff, more or less spotted with darker brown shaggy patches, generally arranged in somewhat concentric order. The skin of the cap is thick and somewhat tough, especially in drying. The gills are almost pure white in early specimens, slightly creamy later, and unequal in length. Stem, often six or eight inches high, proportionately slender, and of equal diameter, bulbous at base, but without a cup, hollow, fibrous, finely speckled or streaked with brown, and deeply inserted in the cap, at which juncture, by a narrow flat space, as shown in the section drawing below, it is distinctly free from contact with the gills. The remnants of the veil are in the form of a more or less detachable ring encircling the stem. The spores are white and odorous. The flavor, when raw, is distinctly nutty, aromatic, sweet, and palatable; when dry, slightly pungent.
This species is cosmopolitan, and is a great favorite on the Continent - in France being known as the Coulemelle, in Italy as Bubbola mag-giore, and in Spain as Cogomelos. It is by many considered as the choicest of all mushrooms, and is indeed a delicious morsel when quickly broiled over coals, seasoned. to taste with salt and pepper and butter melted in the gills, and served hot on buttered toast. Other recipes are noted in a later chapter. The scurfy spots and stems should be removed before cooking.
Pileus: At first egg-shaped, finally expanded like a parasol four to seven inches in diameter, the apex raised in a prominent mound or "umbo." Color pale buff or creamy, occasionally almost pure white, more or less regularly spotted with the brown shaggy patches of the separating epidermis, which remains of the pale brown color on the "umbo." Skin thick and somewhat tough; substance hygrometric, drying and swelling naturally in its haunts.
Gills: Unequal in length; crowded; at first almost white, finally becoming creamy or pale buff.
Stem: Tall, slender, equal, hollow, and fibrous; bulbous at base, but with no sign of a "cup;" separated from the gills above by a distinct space; surface streaked and speckled with brown, encircled by a loose ring.
Spores: White, and, like the whole plant, fragrant aromatic - more so, perhaps, than any other fungus.
Taste: Distinctly sweet and "nutty," slightly pungent when dry.
Habitat: Pastures and fields, occasionally woods.
Plate X. Agaricus Procerus.
This species is especially free from the swarming grubs too commonly found in mushrooms. It is highly hygrometric, dries naturally even while standing in the pasture, in which condition it is decidedly aromatic in fragrance and nutty sweet to the taste, as described. Indeed, it is sometimes called "the nut mushroom." Absorbing moisture from the dews and rains, it again becomes pulpy and enlarged, thus alternating for clays between its juicy and dry condition, in which latter state it may be gathered and kept for winter use. It is a palatable morsel at all times, but especially in the prime of its first expansion, each successive alternation, with its gradual loss of spores, affecting its full flavor.