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Conocybe rugosa (Peck) Watling

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Bolbitiaceae

Conocybe rugosa

Conecaps are neat little mushrooms, but some species in this group are poisonous. For this reason small children should not be allowed to play with or near to Conocybe species.

Distribution

Conocybe rugosa is uncommon to rare in Britain and Ireland; it occurs also in many other countries on mainland Europe. This grassland mushroom is also found in parts of North America.

Conocybe rugosa in mossy habitat

Taxonomic history

This lovely conecap was first described scientifically in 1898 by American mycologist Charles Horton Peck (1833 - 1917), who named it Pholiota rugosa. This species was transferred to its present genus in 1981 by the British mycologist Roy Watling (b. 1938), at which point its binomial name became Conocybe rugosa.

Synonyms of Conocybe rugosa include Pholiota rugosa Peck and Pholiotina rugosa (Peck) Singer.

Etymology

The generic name Conocybe comes from the Latin Conus meaning a cone, and cybe meaning a head - hence 'with a conical head', or in other words conecap. Less obviously, the specific epithet rugosa means wrinkled - a reference to the texture of the cap surface.

Identification guide

Cap of Conocybe rugosa

Cap

1 to 2.5cm in diameter, the caps are conical at first, becoming bell-shaped or broadly convex with faint marginal striations. The surface is smooth or slighyly wrinkled, dry and tawny-brown to butterscotch brown with a paler margin; hygrophanous, becoming buffish in prolonged dry weather.

Gills of Conocybe rugosa

Gills

This attractive conecap has adnexed thin gills that are moderately crowded. Initially pale buff, the gills turn light brown and then rust coloured as the spores mature; the gill edges are paler than the gill faces.

 

Stem of Conocybe rugosa

Stem

Slender straightish stems of Conocybe rugosa are level, 1 to 3mm in diameter and 1.5 to 5cm long, becoming hollow and fragile; buff background with rusty brown longitudinal striations; finely granular and paler above a radially striate buff ring that becomes stained with rust-brown spores.

 

Spores of Conocybe rugosa

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 8.8-9.8 x 5.2-5.6μm; with a germ pore approx. 1.2μm wide.

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Spore print

Yellow-brown.

Basidia

Four-spored.

Cheilosidia of <em>Conocybe rugosa</em>

Cheilostidia (gill-edge cystidia)

The cheilolocystidia are lageniform (flask shaped), typically 42 x 12μm with narrow apical necks 2.5-3μm across.

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Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, appearing on leaf litter, peaty garden compost and mossy woodland floors.

Season

July to October in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Conocybe tenera, the Common Conecap, is a more sharply conical mushroom that appears briefly on lawns other grassy areas; it does not have a stem ring.

Culinary Notes

It is unclear whether this conecap is edible; it might even be poisonous. With its small size and thin flesh, this uncommon mushroom is of no culinary interest.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd edition, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Watling, R. (1982). British Fungus Flora: Agarics and Boleti. Vol 3. Bolbitiaceae: Agrocybe, Bolbitius, & Conocybe. Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes photographs kindly contributed by David Kelly.

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