Mittwoch, 13. November 2013

Species of the Day (November 13th, 2013) - Lepiota aspera Pers. (Fr.) Quel. (also Echinoderma asperum (Pers.) M. Bon.

After a longer break, it's now time for a new Post. However, today's “Plant of the Day” is actually a fungus. This fungus is Lepiota aspera (Pers. Fr.) Quel. from the Agaricaceae family. Other names are Echinoderma aspera or Lepiota frisii. In German, the species is known as “Spitzschuppiger Schirmling”, while the common English name is “Frackled Depperling”.

1) Description

L. aspera is a larger fungi, whose mushroom can reach an average high of nearly 15 centimeters. The cap is conical at the beginning, but folds up later and becomes more umbrella-like. However, the most distinctive feature of this species is the surface of the cap, which is covered with many, maroon scales on a bright ground of ochre. These scales are also responsible for the German name “Spitzschuppig” (literally: “spiky scales”). Because the surface of the cap looks dismembered, the scales are also the reason name for the English name. All in all, L. aspera is easy to recognize, even by laymen.

L. aspera  - cap with scales

The gills (“lamellen” in German”) are close together and are often branched. Otherwise, they are inconspicuous with a pale color and some fine hairs along the edges. The stalk is also pale but the lower regions are covered with some scales like the cap. The annulus (the ring in the middle of the stalk) has a bright brown color with a darker margin; the base of the stalk is thickened.

L. aspera - habitus

L. aspera isn't edible, because the fungus is a little bit toxic. The consumption would lead to some complaints, which aren't deadly but uncomfortable. In the most cases, the consumption is prevented by the sour, unappetizing smell of the flesh.

2) Distribution

L. aspera is a very common fungus, which can be found in the temperate or oceanic regions of the world. It prefers a nutrient-rich soil and is even an indicator for nitrogen. It grows in forests, gardens and even in hedges and parks under shrubs and trees. The species lives often in a community with Urtica dioica (nettle), because the nettle is also a classic indicator for nitrogen within the soil.

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