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Cystolepiota pulverulenta (Huijsman) Vellinga

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

Cystolepiota pulverulenta

These spooky-looking mushrooms usually grow in dark damp places, and perhaps partly for this reason they are not often recorded.

Cystolepiota pulverulenta in mixed woodland

Distribution

A very rare find in central and southern England and Wales, this species is also recorded occasionally in other central and southern European countries including Germany, Holland and France. I have seen this powdercap mushroom as far south as Monchique, in the Algarve region of southern Portugal (picture below).

Cystolepiota pulverulenta, southern Portugal

Taxonomic history

When Dutch mycologist Hendrik Sijbert Cornelis Huijsman (1900 - 1986) described this species in 1960 he gave it the scientific name Lepiota pulverulenta. The currently-accepted scientific name Cystolepiota pulverulenta dates from a 1992 publication by American mycologist Else Vellinga.

Synonyms of Cystolepiota pulverulenta include Lepiota pulverulenta Huijsman, Leucoagaricus pulverulentus (Huijsman) Bon, and Pulverolepiota pulverulenta (Huijsman) Bon.

Etymology

The prefix Cysto- means blistered and lepiota comes from Greek words lepis-, meaning scale, and -ot, meaning ear. Blistered scaly- ear fungus is an interpretation, therefore, of the genus name Cystolepiota. The specific epithet pulverulenta is a Latin adjective meaning powdery or dusty (or, if we wanted to be really obscure, we could opt for the little-use English adjective pulverulent). This is indeed a dusty-looking blistery-scaled mushroom!

Identification guide

Cap of Cystolepiota pulverulenta

Cap

1.5 to 3.5cm across; campanulate or convex with an umbo, not fully flattening; white to yellowish, becoming browner with age, densely covered in large, irregular woolly scales; turning reddish when handled. Woolly vellar scales overhang the cap margin.

Gills of Cystolepiota pulverulenta

Gills

White, moderately crowded, free.

Stem

4 to 6cm long and 2 to 5mm diameter with a basal bulb; white, covered in fluffy vellar scales (small scales near apex; larger scales below), bruising reddish.

Cap scales of Cystolepiota pulverulenta

Hyphal structure of cap scales

The structure of the fluffy cap scales is a helpful diagnostic feature.

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Spores of Cystolepiota pulverulenta

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth or very slightly rough, 4-5 x 2-3μm.

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Spore print

White

Odour/taste

No significant odour or taste.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, singly or in small groups, on (usually calcareous) soil under broadleaf and mixed woodland or occasionally with pines; often with Ivy (Hedera spp) or Stinging Nettles Urtica dioica; occasionally on grassy roadside verges.

Season

Autumn and winter.

Culinary Notes

Cystolepiota mushrooms are generally considered inedible, and some species in this genus may be toxic.

Reference Sources

Breitenbach, J & Kränzlin, F. (1995). Fungi of Switzerland Vol. 4; Mykologia Lucerne.

Funga Nordica Vol. 2: 617–620. ed. Knudsen & Vesterholt; Nordsvamp, Copenhagen.

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) Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding.

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