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Microglossum pratense V. Kucera, Lizon & Tomsovsky

Phylum: Ascomycota - Class: Leotiomycetes - Order: Leotiales - Family: Leotiaceae

Microglossum pratense, southern England

These tiny greenish earthtongues are rare finds in Britain and Ireland - not helped by their small size and their camouflage against the background of mosses and grasses.

Microglossum pratense, Wales UK

Distribution

This earthtongue occurs in Britain and Ireland in unimproved grassland areas. Microglossum pratense is also reported from many other parts of northern and central Europe including Norway and Sweden.

Taxonomic history

In 2017 this and several other new Microglossum species were delineated, using both DNA sequencing and physical characters, by European mycologists Viktor Kucera, Pavel Lizon and MIchal Tomosovsky as unique species separated from Microglossum nudipes and Microglossum olivaceum.

Etymology

Microglossum, the genus name, means small tongue, while the specific epitet comes from the Latin pratense, meaning of meadows, and refers to the grassy habitat typical of this earthtongue.

Identification guide

Closeup of Microglossum pratense

Fruitbody (Ascocarp)

Like many other earthtongues, this species has a flattened clavate head that does indeed look like a wrinkled tongue protruding from the earth. The laterally flattened clubs are longitudinally grooved and range from 2 to 6cm tall and typically 2 to 5mm across. Blue-green to grey-green except for a paler stem region, the surface of the ascocarp is smooth and dry. The hymenial (fertile) head comprises 50 to 75% of the ascocarp.

Spore of Microglossum pratense

Asci

Clavate with rounded tips, typically 85 x 8µm; each ascus containing 8 spores. Paraphyses are filiform and typically 1 to 2µm in diameter, sometimes branching near the tips.

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Spore of Microglossum pratense

Spores

Fusiform, smooth, 13-17 x 4-5µm; containing several oil drops when fully mature.

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Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

No significant taste or odour.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, growing in clusters in mossy grassland.

Season

Late summer and autumn.

Similar species

Microglossum olivaceum has a more clearly-delineated infertile stem. Detailed measurements of asci and spore dimensions are necessary to separate this and several other recently delineated Microglossum species..

Culinary Notes

Microglossum pratense is considered by some authorities to be suspect and so this earthtongue, which has no culinary value, might possibly be poisonous.

Reference Sources

Kucera, V., Lizon, P. & Tomsovsky. M. (2017). Taxonomic divergence of the green naked-stipe members of the genus Microglossum (Helotiales) Mycologia 109.

Pat O'Reilly (2016) Fascinated by Fungi; First Nature

Dennis, R.W.G. (1981). British Ascomycetes; Lubrecht & Cramer; ISBN: 3768205525.

Breitenbach, J. & Kränzlin, F. (1984). Fungi of Switzerland. Volume 1: Ascomycetes. Verlag Mykologia: Luzern, Switzerland.

Medardi, G. (2006). Ascomiceti d'Italia. Centro Studi Micologici: Trento.

British Mycological Society (2010). English Names for Fungi

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 pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding.

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