Goto ContentsGoto Top Page

Shaggy Parasol

Lepiota rhacodes

Those who enjoy inventing common names for wild foods have named this hearty fungus the "shaggy parasol mushroom," but most collectors know it by its species name, rhacodes, pronounced "ra-ko-dees." Lepiota procera, a similar, more stately, and taller mushroom avidly sought for in the eastern United States and Europe, is simply known as the "parasol mushroom." It is highly favored and highly flavored.

ShaggyParasol -- Click for larger image

Lepiota rhacodes is found in the San Francisco Bay Area primarily under Monterey cypress and eucalyptus trees. It also occurs on the borders of compost heaps. This mushroom appears shortly after the first rains, and it fruits during the summer along the Pacific Coast after heavy fogs. It occurs worldwide. The Russians consider it their most beautiful mushroom.

L. rhacodes is a large mushroom. Its cap may reach 7 inches across. The cream- or buff-colored top surface is decorated with crisp dark scales arranged in concentric rings or in interrupted patterns. Characteristically the color becomes orange to red-brown when the stem is cut or the tissues are bruised.

The ample stem supports a thick, cushiony partial veil. The bottom of the stem is bulblike, occasionally surrounded by a volvalike border. Before the cap expands, the young brown specimens have long sturdy stems, and the top is round, giving it a drumsticklike appearance.

Gills and spores are white at maturity. A very similar mushroom, Chlorophyllum molybdites, is found widely distributed in the United States, but is not commonly found in the San Francisco Bay area. It grows in warm moist areas and produces green spores, but only when mature. This is important to know, since C. molybdites can cause intestinal distress.

Intense stomach discomfort may occur from eating raw L. rhacodes. They should only be eaten cooked. There have also been a few reports of minor reactions to cooked L. rhacodes. It would be wise to eat only a small amount of these mushrooms the first time you try them.


Remove sand and humus with a soft brush and a minimum amount of water. Do not overwater them and wash the meaty flavor down the drain.


The gills of the mature mushrooms are very fragile and tend to fragment when sliced.

When cooked, these mushrooms turn deep brown. They have the appearance of meat when cut into thick broad slabs and fried in butter or grilled. You may include them in casseroles, meat loaves, long-cooking pot roasts, and with almost any rich sauce. Sautéed, they are superb as a side dish with roasts, steaks, and chops.

The flavor of the dried mushrooms can become very intense when they are reconstituted in hot water. Resoak them in fresh water to reduce some of this pungency. Save the strong liquid to fortify a stew, sauce, soup, or even the same dish.

We recommend a heavy red wine as an accompaniment, such as burgundy, cabernet, barbera, or bordeaux.


Dry the caps of L. rhacodes and set aside for 1 to 2 years. Like a fine wine, they improve and mellow with age, the aroma becoming increasingly rich. It is recommended that high temperatures be avoided in the dehydrating process. The gills are not crowded, so the drying time will be shorter than for most mushrooms (see information on drying mushrooms).

Mushrooms and Pasta

Shaggy Parasols with Noodles

Serves 6 as a main course

A simple noodle dish is elevated to new heights by the addition of these hearty mushrooms.

  • 4 tablespoons butter or more
  • 1-1/2 pounds shaggy parasol mushrooms, chopped into chunks not less than 1/3 inch thick
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinches of fresh basil, thyme, and parsley
  • 1 pound dried wide egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the mushrooms. Add the garlic, basil, thyme, and parsley. Stew the mushrooms in their own juice over low heat for about 15 minutes. Add more butter if needed.

In the meantime, boil the noodles in a large amount of salted water until tender. Drain. Add the sour cream to the mushroom mixture, then add salt and pepper to taste and pour over the noodles. Serve immediately.

--Mike Roberge

ALTERNATE MUSHROOMS: Blewit, Morels, Shaggy Mane

Beef and Red Wine in a Clay Pot

Serves 6 as a main course

The shaggy parasol is a strongly flavored mushroom that will stand up to long cooking. Soaking dried mushrooms is unnecessary for this dish, for the long slow cooking time makes them succulent. Serve over buttered noodles, with a salad and a green vegetable.

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 pounds lean chuck roast, cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 7 to 10 boiling onions
  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh or 3 ounces dried shaggy parasol mushrooms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Soak a clay pot in water for 15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, mix the salt and flour together. Roll the meat in the flour. Heat the oil in a sauté pan or skillet and sauté the meat until it is browned. Transfer the meat to the clay pot and add the garlic, onions, mushrooms, bay leaf, marjoram, and peppercorns. Pour the wine over these ingredients.

Place in a cold oven set to 400º and cook for 2 hours. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Add the pepper just before serving.

--Louise Freedman

ALTERNATE MUSHROOMS: Black Saddle Mushroom, Hedgehog Mushroom

Mushroom Potato Kugel

Serves 6 as a side dish

Kugel is a Middle European dish similar to pudding. The strong flavor of the dried shaggy parasol mushroom makes this dish a good accompaniment for a beef rib roast or a leg of lamb.

  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ounce dried shaggy parasol mushrooms, cut in small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 medium red potatoes, peeled
  • 1 medium red apple, peeled and cored
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (optional)

In a sauté pan, or skillet, sauté the onions, garlic, and mushrooms in the butter for 3 minutes. Allow to cool.

Grate the potatoes and apple, then place them in a tea towel and twist it to remove as much liquid as possible. Place the mixture in a large bowl. Add the eggs, onion-mushroom mixture, and cognac. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, slat, and baking powder together and add it slowly to the potato mixture. Do not overmix, but blend well. Place the mixture in a buttered 8-by-8-inch baking pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until the top is brown and the edges crisp. Cut into squares and serve with 1 tablespoon of sour cream on top of each portion.

--Louise Freedman

ALTERNATE MUSHROOMS: boletes, common store mushroom