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Scaly Wood Mushrooms: Like Button Mushrooms, but Better

Scaly Wood Mushrooms Like Button Mushrooms, but Better

Scaly wood mushroom is a close relative of the popular button mushroom with a stronger taste and aroma. Let’s look at how to forage them right away.


Scaly wood mushrooms, a look from all angles

The scaly cap is 1.5 to 4 inches wide. The base of the stalk is slightly widened, sometimes even bulbous.

The cap of scaly wood mushrooms is round when young, becoming convex later. It has brown scales. Dense gills are white when young but become pink and later brown as they age. The ring is loose, either large or diminished. The flesh is white. All parts bruise red.

The smell is typical mushroomy, similar to button mushrooms but stronger. The spore print is brown.

blushing scaly wood mushroom

The flesh turns from white to pink to dark red when harmed. This is the key identification sign.


Scaly wood mushrooms grow in summer and autumn worldwide, mostly in coniferous forests but appear in deciduous forests occasionally. They prefer organic waste around spruce trees.

A cluster of young scaly wood mushrooms

A cluster of young scaly wood mushrooms. Their favorite substrate is the organic waste of spruce trees.



Take special care not to mistake scaly wood mushroom for red-staining fibercap. This is not really a look-alike, but it stains red and is deadly. It has a fibrical cap (not scaly), lacks a ring, the flesh is a pale yellow to pink, and stains red much slower. It smells of hand cream.

Beware of the deadly red-staining fibercap—photo by Andreas Kunze, Creative Commons 3.0.


Another remotely similar reddening mushroom, especially if old, is the reddening parasol, the type of shaggy parasol that grows in forests. The tells are numerous: It is larger, has larger protruding scales, a long tough hollow stalk, and a mild smell.

It used to be listed as a good edible but can rarely cause an allergic reaction resulting in a gastric upset.

As long as you focus on key identification signs, the only mushroom that you could mismatch for scaly wood mushroom is its cousin, the edible champignon Agaricus langei.


Common names include scaly wood mushroom, blushing wood mushroom, and pinewood mushroom. The scientific name is Agaricus silvaticus. Sometimes


According to recent research, the species is identical to the almond portobello mushroom, grown and medicinally used in Japan and Brazil, and to several other wild mushrooms. That makes the scaly wood mushroom one of the most researched medicinal mushrooms.

Almond portobello mushrooms by Nathan Wilson

The almond portobello mushrooms are proven to be an identical species to scaly wood mushrooms. (Photo by Nathan Wilson, CC 3.0)


During his 1960 ethnomycological studies in Brazil, Takatoshi Fuhimoto found out that communities that consume almond portobello mushrooms live to a higher age and suffer less from age-related disease and cancer. The mushrooms were then studied in Japan.

The almond portobello mushrooms contain vitamins B2, B6, B14, provitamin D2, and minerals potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, and manganese. They have about 40% of protein, 41% saccharides, and 7% fiber in dry matter.

I rightfully suspect that the content of scaly wood mushrooms is about as great, stellar even among mushrooms (check out my post about minerals, vitamins, nutritional values, and benefits of mushrooms).


Almond portobello extract can stimulate immunity, has antitumor effects, and is used to treat hepatitis B and C. It also improves liver function for intoxicated patients. It has been used to treat tumors in the breasts, larynx, liver, lungs, ovaries, prostate, and stomach.


Scaly wood mushrooms are culinary universal. They require heat preparation. You can use them in any recipe in place of button mushrooms. They have the same taste and aroma, just stronger.

I enjoy them in soups, sauces, and risottos the most.

Pumpkin soup with dried scaly wood mushrooms. Check my recipe here.


Scaly wood mushrooms fade rather fast. Store them in the fridge and use them within 24 hours. The best method of preserving them longer is dehydration.

As you dry them, the red stain turns black. This makes meals made with scaly wood mushrooms quite extraordinary: they taste like button mushrooms but are black!

I still remember finding my first scaly wood mushroom and thinking: “Wow, this one stains red! It might be easy to identify. 

Let me check it with the experts!” I posted photos in a mycology group and had the ID within minutes. Since then, scaly wood mushrooms have become one of my favorite species because of their aroma and taste.

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Carlos Warren

Growing up in Texas, I was fascinated by the world of science and invention, thanks in large part to my father's work at Dow Chemical Company. However, my true passion lay in the natural world, and I became an expert in organic gardening and composting at a young age. I spent hours studying the microbiological communities in our family garden, using a microscope to define the quality of the soil. My love for farming and gardening led me to explore new techniques and methods, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was possible.