Pluteus cervinus – Deer Mushrooms

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Deer mushrooms (Pluteus cervinus) are common edible mushrooms that can be found around the world.
There are 40+ species of Pluteus in North America. All species in this genus are wood rotters with free gills and pinkish spore prints. Some Pluteus mushrooms are edible, some are psychoactive, and some are too small to forage.
Deer mushrooms can be found growing on dead or dying hardwood. They sometimes appear to be growing from the ground but are actually growing from buried rotting wood. The mushroom may be growing singularly or in scattered groupings.
Deer mushrooms have a brownish cap with a bump at the center of the cap. The cap color varies from beige to chocolate brown. The cap is often radially streaked.
The stem is whitish or brownish. Gills are white, turning pinkish with age. The gills are not attached to the stem. Spore print is pinkish brown.
Mushrooms in this species are variable. Recent studies suggest that this species may actually be a group of a few different species.
Deer mushrooms are not commonly collected since there is little “meat” to the cap. The cap is made up of 90% gills and 10% thin flesh.
Deer mushrooms have a radish aroma and flavor. They are brittle so should be collected in a basket. The flavor is mild after cooking. The mushrooms can also be pickled or dried for preservation.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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