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Agaricus arvensis (horse mushroom)

The horse mushroom is a good, sought-after edible fungus, related to the common cultivated mushroom (A. bisporus) and with a pleasant aniseed-like odour.
Close up of horse mushroom

Close up of Agaricus arvensis (Photo: Malcolm Storey, 2004)

Species information

Common name: 

horse mushroom

Conservation status: 

A widespread and fairly common species in Britain and elsewhere, and not considered of conservation concern.

Habitat: 

Grassland, including lawns, and other grassy places, fields and parks, on nutrient-rich soil. Occasionally also found in open woodland.

Key Uses: 

Food, medicinal.

Known hazards: 

See below.

Taxonomy

Kingdom: 
Fungi
Phylum: 
Basidiomycota
Subphylum: 
Agaricomycotina
Order: 
Agaricales
Family: 
Agaricaceae
Genus: Agaricus

About this species

The horse mushroom is a well-known species and one of the largest of the white Agaricus species found in Britain and Europe. It is widespread and fairly common, and can be found in grassy places from late summer through autumn, sometimes growing in large numbers or occasionally forming fairy rings.

Agaricus arvensis is one of about 40 species of Agaricus found in Britain. It was first described from Bavaria in 1762 by Jacob Christian Schaeffer. He used the epithet arvensis which means ‘of the field’, which reflects its usual habitat. Like most other Agaricus species, it was once referred to as Psalliota, a later synonym of Agaricus. The common name ‘horse mushroom’ apparently refers to its habit of sometimes appearing near stables, due to its liking of nutrient-rich soil which is supplied by horse manure. On account of its white cap it has also been called ‘snowball mushroom’ in New Zealand.

Genus: 
Agaricus

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