As far as most fungi are concerned, the colder and darker the living conditions, the better, but this isn’t always easy to replicate when you’re growing the mushrooms yourself!
Thankfully, some mushrooms, such as the Almond Agaricus, prefer to grow in more familiar territory out in the open.
What is an almond agaricus? Almond agaricus is a fragrant tropical mushroom closely related to the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). It thrives in hot, humid environments and requires a moist compost bed to fruit successfully. This fast grower matures within a month and produces several clusters in one season.
This sun-happy mushroom can grow in containers or your garden bed, and it even makes a great companion plant alongside your tomatoes and zucchinis!
Keep reading to learn more about this fantastic fungus, plus how to grow them at home, safely identify wild ones, FAQs answered, and more.
Also known as “the mushroom of the sun,” almond agaricus (Agaricus subrufescens) favors tropical climates and can be found thriving at the base of cedar trees and along forest trails in North America, Brazil, Taiwan, and Great Britain between April and May to late summer.
This mushroom requires 70-90°F to successfully fruit, producing a distinctive scent and flavor.
Unlike most other mushroom species, almond agaricus cannot grow on logs and is cultivated worldwide for its remarkable cancer-inhibiting properties.
Almond Agaricus Identification & Appearance
Mushrooms have a dry white-tan cap covered in fibrous scales.
Its cap initially resembles a semi-circle before becoming convex with maturity and can measure 2-7 inches in diameter, appearing quite similar to the common button mushroom.
Its cylindrical stem is 2-5 inches long and is white with faint pink tinges beneath the cap.
The gills are initially covered by a thin veil that eventually breaks, revealing crowded, narrow gills of pale pink before darkening to brown.
Almond Agaricus Growth Stages
Phase 1: Inoculation
In the initial stage of their growth cycle, mature almond mushrooms eject spores from their gill surface that are then carried by the wind before settling onto appropriate substrate.
Phase 2: Germination
If conditions are right, these spores can then germinate and produce microscopic male and female filaments known as hyphae, which combine to generate fertile mycelium.
Phase 3: Knotting & Fruiting
This mycelium produces masses of thread-like roots that actively break down organic matter in the earth and absorb the resulting nutrients.
Feeding upon this rich matter helps the mycelium condense and form a “hyphal knot” structure, which develops into fruiting bodies known as pins, which eventually expand into a recognizable adult mushroom.
Is Agaricus subrufescens Edible?
Yes, almond agaricus is entirely edible and is widely foraged – just be sure to sufficiently prepare them before consuming.
Caution: Take care not to confuse A. subrufescens with the toxic Agaricus xanthodermus, also known as the yellow-stainer.
This mushroom reveals a bright yellow stain on the cap when damaged and confusingly, A. subrufescens can turn yellow as it bruises, though this coloring will fade to brown over time instead of remaining bright yellow.
A definitive way to tell them apart is to cut open the stem base – if it displays a bold yellow color, you likely have a yellow-stainer mushroom.
Almond Agaricus Taste
As the name suggests, these mushrooms have a mild, delicate almond aroma and flavor, with many reporting a hint of marzipan.
Almond Agaricus Look-Alikes
Almond mushrooms appear similar to yellow-stainer mushrooms when the cap is bruised and can also resemble Agaricus augustus or “prince mushrooms.”
The A. augustus mushroom produces a similar almond scent, but it is generally larger than the almond mushroom with a dark brown speckled cap and is typically found on North America’s west coast while A. subrufescens is normally found on the east coast, according to Mushroom Appreciation.
Almond Agaricus Uses
Almond mushrooms are cultivated in Japan and China for their use in tea and as a food additive, and they are generally consumed as food throughout the world.
Extracts of the fungi are also used widely in the field of alternative medicine, notably in Brazil and parts of Asia.
Almond Agaricus Health Benefits
Almond mushrooms contain high levels of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and other valuable minerals that are thought to provide many health benefits including:
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Reducing emotional stress.
- Decreasing insulin resistance for those with type 2 diabetes.
- Aiding in the treatment of high cholesterol, bloodstream issues, and digestive disorders.
- Aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis, stomach ulcers, and heart disease.
It’s also been noted that – in some cases – the mushroom’s fungal compounds have the remarkable ability to reduce the number of cells that turn into cancer and deprive tumor cells of nutrients, resulting in reduced tumor growth.
Almond Agaricus Side Effects
There’s a concern that almond mushrooms can worsen liver disease and interfere with blood sugar control.
It may also cause skin irritation, nausea, and diarrhea in some individuals and is best avoided for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a current lack of research into its effects.
Is Agaricus subrufescens the Same as Agaricus blazei?
Yes. The mushroom now known as A. subrufescens was believed to be discovered first in 1945 by botanist William A. Murrill, growing on a Florida lawn belonging to his friend R.W. Blaze.
It was then re-discovered in 1967 and identified as Agaricus blazei ‘Murrill’ by the Belgian botanist Paul Heinemann.
However, a recent analysis into the mushroom’s origins reveals that it was first discovered and identified as A. subrufescens decades previously in 1893 by the American mycologist Charles Horton Peck before being cultivated worldwide and taking on a different nomenclature.
How To Grow Almond Agaricus
Almond agaricus is one of the easiest mushrooms to grow at home in a pot or bed of garden compost by adding actively growing mushroom spawn (mycelium) to the compost.
1. Select a Compost With High-Moisture Content
Almond agaricus will fruit more successfully in compost with 60-70% moisture content.
Store-bought mushroom compost works well but finished homemade compost rich in decomposed plant matter is ideal.
Check that the compost is moist enough by squeezing a handful – if it sticks together and releases some water droplets, then you’re onto a winner!
2. Choose Your Planting Location
If you lack the space, you may want to grow your almond mushrooms among your existing container plants or vegetables or, if you prefer, in a simple compost bed.
Make sure the pots are 18 inches or wider as smaller containers can be too drying, and consider keeping potted or bed-grown mushrooms in the shade of other plants, in a hoop house, or in a greenhouse to provide the shady, tropical environment the mushrooms love.
3. Seed the Almond Agaricus Spawn in Compost in Spring
Wait until the threat of frost has passed in your area (as the mushrooms won’t tolerate temps below 35°F), and prepare a compost bed at least 3 inches deep.
Break off golf ball-sized chunks of almond agaricus sawdust spawn, and bury each piece an inch into the compost – planting each chunk at least 4 inches apart from each other in a square pattern formation.
4. Keep Compost Well Watered & Expect Fruiting Within 4-6 Weeks
In excessively hot/dry climates without regular rainfall, ensure the compost bed is kept sufficiently moist by watering every other day.
After 3 weeks, you should spot white thread-like roots spreading across the compost surface.
Now is a great time to add a casing layer – this is an optional but hugely beneficial extra step in maintaining a suitably moist and humid environment for the mushrooms to develop.
Almond Agaricus Spawn
Almond agaricus spawn is essentially the equivalent of seeds in mushroom farming, but as mushrooms release spores instead of seeds, these fertile spores, known as mycelium, are placed on a growing medium ready to be spawned in permanent substrate (compost in this case).
This mushroom spawn containing live mycelium culture commonly comes in the form of compressed blocks of sterilized grain and sawdust or in wooden plugs/dowels.
A bag of sawdust spawn (commonly sold in 5-pound quantities) allows you to inoculate an area of approximately 16 square feet or about 50 pounds of finished compost.
Loose grain and sawdust spawn can be sprinkled onto compost. Blocks of mushroom spawn need to be broken apart into golf ball/egg-sized pieces.
Spawn chunks/handfuls should be planted into the compost at a depth of 1 inch and with a spacing of 4-6 inches between each piece to avoid crowding and encourage successful fruiting.
Where To Buy Almond Agaricus Spawn
Almond mushroom spawn is widely available online and comes in 5- or 5.5-pound bags of sawdust and grain from the following stores:
Co-founder of Fungi Ally Willie Crosby recommends using “all of the spawn at once, as you cannot keep almond agaricus in refrigeration as you can with other mushroom species. The spawn will die at refrigeration temperatures.”
How Long Do Almond Agaricus Take To Grow?
In ideal conditions, almond agaricus can develop incredibly fast, producing clusters of fruiting mushrooms as early as 4 weeks after planting, but it may take up to 8 weeks or more.
Watch your compost bed closely after the 2-3 week mark for signs of the mycelium “knotting” and forming pin heads – a clear sign that adult mushrooms are on the horizon.
When & How To Harvest Almond Agaricus
Almond mushrooms can be harvested around 4-5 weeks after planting and are best picked before the cap becomes soft and when the veil concealing the gills (just beneath the cap) is mostly intact.
To harvest fresh, mature mushrooms, pace your hand under the cap and, holding the stem base, gently twist and pull it from its mycelial “roots.”
You can also use sharp scissors or a specialized foraging knife.
How Many Times Can You Harvest Almond Agaricus?
Depending on when you have planted the mushroom spawn in compost, almond agaricus will fruit between midsummer and early fall, producing new flushes of mushrooms every 2-3 weeks in a single season.
The initial flush of growth will produce the largest mushrooms before sending out smaller mushrooms with later flushes.
How To Store Almond Agaricus
Freshly harvested mushrooms should be refrigerated until use for 3 days or up to 10 days if they are dried beforehand.
For long-term storage, rinse them of debris, and leave them on a kitchen towel in a warm spot (77-86°F) with good airflow.
Once fully dried, keep the mushrooms stored in a dark, airtight location. Store them double-bagged in Ziplock bags either in the freezer or in the refrigerator, and consume within 7-10 days.
As for storing mushroom spawn, almond agaricus will keep at room temperature for up to 6 months, but it cannot be refrigerated, and once the bag of product is opened, it must be used immediately.
Common Problems When Growing Almond Agaricus
Additional Growth at the Stem Base
Poor air circulation can cause growing mushrooms to develop “fuzzy feet” at the base of their stems.
This additional, unnecessary mycelium growth, unfortunately, diverts much-needed energy from the main parent mushroom.
As the mycelium begins to knot and prepare for the fruiting phase, place a fan nearby if you’re growing the mushrooms indoors or in a greenhouse.
Long, Spindly Mushroom Stems
When grown under heavy shade or indoors in a poorly lit environment, mushrooms will stretch and strain in search of available light, causing the stalks to grow long and scrawny.
Place indoor-grown mushrooms in south-facing rooms that receive adequate daylight, and consider the use of a grow lamp for especially dark locations.
Underdeveloped, Deformed Caps
Mushroom caps should be full and arched/convex, but they can become misshapen or form very small caps when there is a lack of oxygen and too much carbon divide in its environment.
Underdeveloped caps usually point to a lack of airflow and inadequate lighting, so ensure indoor and outdoor mushrooms are not developing in an overly shady spot and that indoor-grown almond agaricus have adequate air circulation in the form of a fan if necessary.
In summary, the edible almond agaricus is an unusual mushroom with a pleasant taste and impressive medicinal properties – especially concerning its impact on cancer cells.
What’s more, they are relatively easy to grow and harvest at home if the spawn is given the ideal conditions to thrive!
If foraging for this mushroom, just be aware that almond agaricus can appear very similar to the poisonous yellow-stainer mushroom when bruised.