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Naturalize That Mushroom Outdoors!
Freckled Dapperling (Lepiota aspera) is an interesting mushroom which we discovered in a place we never expected to find it! We were invited into an indoor atrium to assist with a "mushroom problem". There, between the palm tree and a couple of dieffenbachia, were a few yellowish brown mounds pushing up through the growing mix.
We pulled out the ones we could see, and in so doing, found many more smaller ones that were lurking just below the surface. They were so coated in the sandy mix that we could not determine the surface texture of the cap, and could only positively identify one remarkable feature - a thick cottony or cobwebby veil which connected the cap to the stem. We could tell that the veil did not break and string apart like some webby looking veils, but that it was detaching cleanly from the cap margin (edge) - that is also a distinguishing feature.
The small buttons were anywhere from 3/4 to 1" around, and anything larger than that was starting to break at the veil. The open caps were about 3-4 inches across, and developing the parasol appearance characteristic of Lepiotas.
The top of the cap is actually covered in a layer of round bumps or beads, but if the mushroom ends up really dirty, like these did (covered in sand), it can be hard to tell what the texture of the surface actually IS, until it is cleaned. Once you DO clean it, the cap may appear SMOOTH, even though it is not actually in the wild, because when you brush off the sand, those little round beads go with it! Like many mushrooms that have pearlette surfaces, those little round beads are barely attached, and will come free and roll off as soon as you start brushing it off. The more mature the mushroom, the more they brush off (a clever way for nature to spread fungus, actually). This means pictures of Lepiota aspera may show anything from a nearly smooth cap, to one that is partially bumpy, to one that is covered with beads and very rough looking. The beads are darker in color than the cap also, giving the surface a dirty look even when it is fairly clean.
The tapered cobwebby veil is probably the key identifier for this mushroom in the wild, along with the cap size and color. It is a spring and fall mushroom, and tends to grow in well mulched areas, and often in growing mixes in greenhouses and indoor pots. If you want a mushroom that you can grow in your potted plants, this is an excellent choice!
It is an EDIBLE WITH CAUTION mushroom. It should not be eaten BEFORE CONSUMING ALCOHOL, WHILE CONSUMING ALCOHOL, or right AFTER CONSUMING ALCOHOL. If the alcohol and the mushroom chemicals are in your bloodstream at the same time it produces a toxic reaction. There are no recorded fatalities, it just makes you sick. If you are a teatotaller like me, this is a safe mushroom, as long as you aren't maintaining a habit on cough syrup or bootleg tinctures. Don't serve it to guests either, even if you warn them. They may not believe you - or they may have lied about imbibing.
Freckled Dapperling has both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects, even in small amounts. It should not be used as a preventive, as doing so will harm healthy gut bacterial balance. It may be used in response to known infection, or consumed as a periodic culinary mushroom without negative effect to the intestinal microbial balance.
This mushroom should not be consumed on a daily basis, or in large amounts (more than about 1/2 cup of chopped mushroom) in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, since it may negatively affect pregnancy hormonal balance. It may be useful in the first trimester to increase progesterone levels, or to reduce bleeding which threatens the pregnancy (it will not affect bleeding where the baby is already deceased). It may also be useful in peri-menopause for this purpose. This is a mushroom that I have used medicinally, and personally know that it can work. Adolescent boys, and men who are having trouble with male hormonal balance should also avoid consuming this on a daily basis, or in similar large amounts. It is otherwise not a concern for hormonal balance.