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Psathyrella bipellis (Quel.) A.H. Sm.

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

Psathyrella bipellis

This beautiful little brittlestems mushroom is sadly an all to rare sight; it is saprotrophic on dead hardwood, often being connected to wood buried below the surface in grassy habitats.

Distribution

An uncommon to rare find in Britain and Ireland, Psathyrella bipellis occurs in many other parts of Europe including Norway, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. This species is also widely reported from North America, where is occurs frequently in woodchip-mulched parks and gardens.

Taxonomic history

This brittlestem mushroom was originally described scientifically 1884 by French mycologist Lucien Quelet, who named it Psathyra bipellis. American mycologist Alexander H. Smith (1904 - 1986) transferred this species to the genus Psathyrella in 1946, thereby establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Psathyrella bipellis.

Synonyms of Psathyrella bipellis include Psathyra bipellis Quel., Drosophila bipellis (Quel.) Quel., Pilosace bipellis (Quel.) Kuntze, Psathyra barlae Bres., Pilosace barlae (Bres.) Kuntze, and Psathyrella barlae (Bres.) A.H. Sm.

Etymology

Psathyrella, the genus name, is the diminutive form of Psathyra, which comes from the Greek word psathuros meaning friable; it is a reference to the crumbly nature of the caps, gills and stems of mushrooms in this genus. The specific epithet bipellis comes from the prefix bi- meaning 'having two', and pellis, meaning skin - a reference to fact that a layer of veil fibres or flocci cover the pellicle of young fresh caps.

Identification guide

Cap of Psathyrella bipellis

Cap

Purplish brown, to chestnut brown, occasionally yellowish brown; hygrophanous, drying ochre or beige; 1 to 6cm across; initially bell-shaped, flattening; margin striate; young caps bear radial white veil fibres or flocci, particularly dense at the margin.

Psathyrella bipellis, view of gills and stems

Gills

Adnate, moderately crowded; dingy brown becoming chocolate brown; drying very dark brown, almost black.

Psathyrella multipedata - Clustered Brittlestem - view of stem

Stem

Whitish, sometimes with a purple tinge, 4 to 8cm long and 2 to 5mm diameter; cylindrical, hollow, usually curved; as with other members of this genus there is no stem ring.

Cheilocystidium of Psathyrella bipellis

Cheilocystidia (1)

Two types, the larger cheilocystidia (left) are very variable in shape but often utriform, langeniform or fusoid, 35 - 80 x 8 - 24µm..

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Small cheilocystidium of Psathyrella bipellis

Cheilocystidia (2)

The smaller cheilocystidia (left) are clavate.

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Spore of Psathyrella bipellis

Spores

Variable in shape but usually ellipsoidal to ovoid, smooth, 11-16.5 x 6.5-8.5µm with a large germ pore.

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Spore print

Reddish brown.

Odour/taste

Odour variable, sometimes fruity; taste not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on decaying wood or growing from buried hardwood twigs in open woodlands, parkland and grassy verges; often with beech (Fagus spp.).

Season

June to November in Britain and Ireland.

Culinary Notes

This is uncommon to rare mushroom, of unknown edibility, is of no cullinary interest.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Funga Nordica: 2nd edition 2012. Edited by Knudsen, H. & Vesterholt, J. ISBN 9788798396130

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.

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