Fairy Ring Mushroom (Marasmius oreades)
Range: Widely distributed across North America. Prefers to grow in grassy areas such as lawns, fields, or even dunes. They often grow in the craters where stumps used to be.
Harvest Season: Summer and fall, may grow year-round in warm climates.
Identifying Characteristics: These small mushrooms grow in a ring or arc. The cap is generally 1 to 5 centimeters across. When young, the cap might be slightly inrolled but it becomes upturned as the mushroom matures. The cap is sometimes described as nipple-like, with a prominent center. The fairy ring mushroom is dry and bald, generally a pale tan or buff (but may be white). The stem is very tough (this is one of the most reliable identification characteristics for this edible mushroom) and may or may not be attached to the gills. The spore print will be white. Read more about identifying fairy ring mushrooms here.
Dangerous Lookalikes: Clitocybe dealbata is similar but does not have a tough stem. The gills are much more crowded than the fairy ring (which has well-spaced gills).
Preparation: Remove the stem, leaving the cap intact. Rinse with cold water if needed, then let dry. They don’t have a strong taste, so use more basic recipes to let their flavor shine.