Freitag, 22. November 2013

Species of the Day (November 22nd, 2013) - Chlorophyllum brunneum (Farlow & Burt) Vellinga

This week, I want to present another mushroom. So, the actual “Species of the day” is Chlorophyllum brunneum (Farlow & Burt) Vellinga from the Agaricaceae family. In German, this species is known as “Garten-Safranschirmling” and in English as “Shaggy Parasol”.

However, the actual taxonomy of the Genus Chlorophyllum (“Safranschirmlinge” in German) was unclear for a long time. Earlier, C. brunneum and Chlorophyllum rachodes (Vittad.) Vellinga were the same species, which was called Macrolepiota rachodes. Because the taxonomy of the Genus Chlorophyllum is still new, you can find three different names for the species in literature: Chlorophyllum brunneum (the newest), Chlorophyllum rachodes (which is another species) and Macrolepiota rachodes. This sounds confusing, but I hope, that my picture will make it clear for you.

Different Systematics of the Genus Chlorophyllum
(please note: this is not a phylogenetic cladogram; it serves only
for illustration)

1) Description

C. brunneum is a large fungus, whose mushroom can reach between 18 and 20 centimeters (7 to 8 inches) in diameter. The surface of the mushroom is covered with loose, white scales, which give the mushroom a tattered habitus. The scales are arranged in concentric circles, but the arrangement isn't so clear as with the real Parasol (Macropiota procera). There is a large cap in the center of the mushroom, which has a more or less intense, maroon color.

C. brunneum - habitus

The stalk reaches an average length of nearly 15 centimeters (6 inches). It's nearly smooth and featureless, but if hurt, the stalk "bleeds" in red or orange, what is also the reason for the German name “Safranschirmling” (“Safran” is German for Saffron, a red to orange colored spice). The base of the stalk is lumpy thickened, what is also the main difference to C. rachodes (another one is the maroon cap; C. rachodes has a small, inconspicuous cap only).

C. brunneum - on this picture, you
can see the lumpy thickened base of the stalk

There's nothing special about the gills. They are cream-white like the rest of the fungus. However, there are also some darker spots at the points of pressure (e. g. at the edge of the mushroom). This phenomenon is also a result of the reddish fluid within the fungus.

C. brunneum - the mushroom with its
maroon cap and the cream white flakes

C. brunneum is a little bit toxic. It isn't deadly, but consumption may lead to some uncomfortable complaints. However, the similar C. rachodes is edible, if cooked. On the other side, there is also another species of this Genus, Chlorophyllum venenatum, which is toxic. In this case, consumption leads to strong gastro-intestinal complaints. C. venenatum looks almost exactly like C. brunneum (there are only microscopic differences between the hyphae). and can be confused easily with it. So, be careful, if you want to collect fungi from this Genus (Though, C. venneatum is rare in Middle Europe and more common in Southern Europe).

2) Distribution

The shaggy parasol is native to Europe. Unlike C. rachodes, which grows in the woods, our species can also be found in parks, roadsides and in gardens, because it prefers a very nutrient-rich soil and such a soil is often man-made. This makes C. brunneum to a typical profiteer of anthropogenic influence.

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.