The featured mushroom in May of 2014 was Agrocybe Praecox: the Spring Agrocybe
Although the spring Agrocybe is most often encountered in urban to suburban settings (along roads, in grassy or cultivated areas, in wood chips), it does grow in the forest. I remember a trip up North seeking morels on which I found this mushroom in several locations in the ash woods. Fortunately, I also found morels. Every year, there is a fruiting of these mushrooms in the back parking lot behind J.C. Penney’s at the Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor.
The cap of the spring Agrocybe ranges from 1 1/2 to 4 inches across. The color is extremely varied ranging from creamy to creamy-ochre, yellow brown, tan hazel brown to even olive-brown. The cap is smooth and soft when young often cracking with age. The stalk is 1 to 4 inches tall and 1/8 to ½ inch wide. The stem has a ring or ring remnants and is pale buff below the ring. There are often white rhizomorphs (thick groups of the white mycelia) at the base of the stem. The gills are adnate (90 degree angle) and crowded. They are white when the mushroom is young but soon turn dull brown as the spores develop. The spore print is a cigar-brown. The habitat is also extremely varied. The spring Agrocybe can occur singly, scattered, in clumps and even in vast clumps with hundreds to thousands of mushroom fruiting. It occurs in many urban and suburban settings but is also a woodland species.
The spring Agrocybe is edible but no guidebook recommends eating this mushroom. It would be fairly easy to confuse an Agrocybe with a Heboloma many of which are poisonous. Brown spored spring mushrooms are not well understood. I have not been tempted in the slightest to try this one.