The fungus that resembles a vintage shade umbrella – the parasol mushroom

The parasol mushroom looks a bit like a button mushroom when it first pops out from the ground in late summer or early fall, but the cap quickly spreads out to resemble the vintage shade umbrella known as a parasol, and these mushrooms are popping up all over our yard right now!

You can listen to this post about the parasol mushroom or keep on reading.

Either way, you can download a set of free printables to help you make the most of your mushroom study!

The Parasol Mushroom

Parasol mushrooms are typically found in lawns or near the edge of the woods, especially those with oaks and pines. Like all mushrooms, they prefer a damp environment, so it is common for them to pop up overnight in your yard after several days of rain, which is what has been happening around here.

Remember that a mushroom is simply the fruiting body of a much larger network of mycelium under the ground. The fungi underground send out a fruiting body that consists of a stalk, cap, and gills that release spores, which help the fungi to reproduce.

The cap of the parasol mushroom typically has several brown scale-like marks on the top, which is another marker you can use to identify this mushroom.

The parasol mushroom begins as an egg shape and then over a day or so, the cap will spread and flatten out. The gills of the parasol mushroom are usually cream white and free from blemishes, making this mushroom beautiful to observe!

Fun Fact – Parasol mushrooms are great to observe, but not so great to eat unless you know what you are doing as many poisonous mushrooms mimic these. In fact, one of the varieties of parasol mushrooms, the green-spored parasol, is the most commonly consumed poisonous mushroom.

Links to Research

Parasol Mushroom Activity Ideas

  • Mushroom Hunt – Head outside and look for mushrooms in your yard! Observe the cap, stalk, and gills from a distance as some mushrooms are poisonous. 
  • Mushroom Spore Prints – Make a bit of mushroom art with these directions for making mushroom spore prints.

By Paige Hudson

Paige Hudson is the author of Success in Science and a homeschooling mom. She has a passion for sharing the wonders of science with children, which is why she writes science curriculum for homeschoolers at Elemental Science. She holds a BS in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech and currently resides in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia with her husband and 2 children.