Field mushroom (Agaricus campestris)
There are a number of edible Agaricus found throughout South Africa. The most widespread is the Field mushroom (Agaricus campestris) – occurring on pastures and paddocks, forest margins, open veld, grassland, composted lawns, meadows, sports fields and other grassy areas. These small, white “buttons” tend to grow out in the open and can fruit in impressive numbers. The easiest way to identify one is firstly its resemblance to a white button, followed by the lack of a yellow stain, a (sometimes visible) circular annular remnant around the stem, slightly overhanging margin once the cap has opened, and the pink gills it contains while the cap is still closed – a number of other Agaricus have white gills during this stage of growth. An additional feature to look out for is a pink-to-wine red “blush” that can appear on the top of the cap, especially during rainy weather. Agaricus is a notoriously difficult genus to identify down to species level on sight alone. It does become easier with experience though, and the signature of a Field mushroom becomes more-easily recognisable over time.