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Collybioid

Expert links: Gymnopus Rhodocollybia Collybia/Asterophora
  Melanoleuca Lyophyllum Strobilurus/Baeospora
  Calocybe Tephrocybe Other

They are usually found on the ground but are saprophytic (often growing on debris or cones) and belong to the Marasmioid clade unless otherwise specified.

A few species with normally decurrent gills may sometimes have adnexed gills, such as Clitocybe sclerotoidea, growing conspicuously from a white mass, and Leucopaxillus gentianeus.

 

Collybia - When Collybias were found to not be all related to each other and the larger ones were split into Gymnopus and Rhodocollybia, it was unfortunately the atypically small Collybias that got to keep the name, simply because they had the name first, creating confusion. So "collybioid stature" really means big like things Collybia used to be, not small things like Collybia is now. On behalf of mycologists everywhere, I apologize. They are not related to Marasmius and Gymnopus, but to the Tricholomatoid clade. In fact they are very closely related to Clitocybe. (Very. Unfortunately, they may actually be Clitocybes, which doesn't help the confusion any).

These can be recognized by their small size (<1cm), preference for growing on old rotting mushrooms (often an old Russula turned into an unrecognizable black pile of goo), closely spaced gills and by often having sclerotia at the base of the stem - a tight little pill ball of nutrients. The caps and stems are pale and not tough nor wiry, so they are most likely to be confused with Strobilurus/Baeospora and Asterophora. Hygrophanous. There is usually no odor (although my collection of C. cookei below smelled mysteriously of black licorice, perhaps the host mushroom did).

C. tuberosa - sclerotia are dark and brown, small and seed shaped.

C. cookei - sclerotia are brighter, larger, round and wrinkled.

C. cirrhata - no sclerotia, resembles Asterophora and Strobilurus.

Dendrocollybia racemosa - <1cm, you can't miss the branches all over the stem of this rare little gem, where asexual spores are produced. It has round, black sclerotia and also grows on old rotting Russulas. Sometimes it is capless.

Asterophora - growing on decaying Russula/Lactarius remains, these are related to Lyophyllum in the Tricholomatoid clade. Not hygrophanous. One species may be almost lacking in gills and not recognizable as a gilled mushroom and mistaken for an earth tongue, but the brown powdery cap will hopefully give it away. Due to their warty spores and parastic ecology, they are probably most closely related to Tephrocybe.

A. lycoperdoides - cap is dusted with brown asexual spores, gills almost absent.

A. parasitica - true gills, not dusty, wider spaced gills than Collybia, which it is most likely to be confused with.

 

Strobilurus/Baeospora - these mushrooms have been squeezed out of larger habitats and forced to feed on conifer cones, while the larger bully mushrooms have taken the larger pieces of wood for themselves. Somewhat hygrophanous. Most likely to be confused with Collybia. Strobilurus is closely related to Armillaria, the honey mushroom, and the stems are reminiscent of the larger Gymnopus erythropus. Both genera belong to the Marasmioid clade. <2.5cm in diamater, but usually smaller than that. The three species of Strobilurus look practically the same, so are best told apart by habitat or microscopically.

S. trullisatus (left) - orange two-toned stem. Pale cap perhaps grey or orangish. Gills not crowded. Doug fir cones. Fall.

B. myosura (right) - uniform pinkish stem. Crowded gills.

S. occidentalis - slightly darker cap than S. trullisatus on spruce cones, fall or spring. Two-toned orange stem.

S. albipilatus - ironically greyer capped than the others (other times white), often found on the ground on unrecognizably decayed cones. Fall or spring, usually at high elevations. Two-toned orange stem.

 

Gymnopus - the bulk of the genus Collybia were moved here. They typically grow up to 5cm across, unless otherwise specified. They can sometimes be found on wood and can therefore be confused with the mushrooms found here. Some are somewhat hygrophanous. They do have cartilaginous stems and tough fruiting bodies that are not very fleshy and don't rot quickly. They are sometimes confused with Rhodocollybia, which are usually a bit larger and fleshier.

I sometimes find different, unidentifiable species of Gymnopus. More of them may be hiding out there.

G. acervatus - big clusters, reddish stems and young caps. Some have erected a new genus for this, Connopus. 

G. confluens - pale (sometimes darker when fresh), finely hairy stem, more crowded gills than G. peronatus.

G. striatipes - more distant gills and grooved stem.

G. dryophilus - brighter orange, bald stem, usually smaller than R. butyracea.

G. erythropus - two toned stem, a different shade of reddish than G. acervatus. More distant gills. May be related to Marasmiellus. Similar to Marasmius cohaerens.

G. fuscopurpureus - dark even in the gills, with hairy stem base. KOH turns dark.

G. putillus - red-brown cap and gills, white stem, KOH negative.

G. dysodes - similar, also KOH+, but smells strongly of garlic/onion.

G. villosipes - similarly dark cap and young gills, umbilicate cap?, entirely pubescent stem, KOH negative.

G. peronatus - one of the most common mushrooms of all, recently introduced! Yellowish, hairy stem base. Taste hot (but not always? Sometimes lemony.)

G. polyphyllus - cap and stem dark or pale, crowded gills, smells strongly of garlic, bigger than Marasmius.

G. luxurians - our largest one. The size of Rhodocollybia.

G. subpruinosus - slightly pubescent stem, entirely striate cap.

G. (Collybia) bakerensis - <4cm. Mostly white with a pinkish brown stem base, usually growing on wood. Less crowded gills than Ossicaulis. Not hygrophanous. Also resembles the wood-inhabiting Clitocybe truncicola and americana.

Rhodocollybia - usually just a bit bigger and stockier than Gymnopus (whose stems are more cartilaginous), they are best defined by a slight tinge of yellow, orange or pink to the spores, but not at all deep and dark enough to qualify as pink-spored mushrooms. It's too subtle to notice unless you take a spore print, so you may just have to learn to recognize them. Somewhat hygrophanous. Most often with serrated gill edges, and slightly rooting stems.

Gymnopus luxurians, above, is the size of a Rhodocollybia, but doesn't have the same greasy look that Rhodocollybia often does.

R. butyracea - pale to dark orange brown, stockier than G. dryophilus with serrated gill edges.

R. badiialba - usually dark, more crowded gills, longer rooting stem.

R. extuberans (unakensis) - poorly understood similar dark species.

R. maculata - also pale or dark orange brown, spotting red, may smell like candy!

R. oregonensis - dark two-toned cap, with the longest rooting stem. Also spotting red and definitely smells like marzipan!

R. subsulcatipes - paler brown cap, but darker brown stem.

Caulorhiza hygrophoroides - not closely related, but similar white spored, red-orange, conical cap and deeply rooting stem.

Melanoleuca - They are best recognized by often having a very elegant Amanita/Pluteus like stature (they are related to Pluteus), with a wide flat cap, close to crowded gills and a narrow straight stem. The gill attachment is never reliably the same, so unfortunately, they might be notched, adnate or slightly decurrent (which makes them easily confused with clitocyboid mushrooms). The caps are not usually viscid but slightly more greasy or hygrophanous than Tricholoma. There is no partial veil. But they are often hard to recognize because they only come in boring shades of white, grey or brown. Normally 5-10cm, except for the larger, stockier ones, which do not quite have the elegant Melanoleuca "look" and are easily confused with Lyophyllum. Megacollybia is similar, but on wood, usually large, and with more distant gills.

Distinctively, they have amyloid warty spores (that turn dark in iodine) and often have cystidia of the "stinging hair" type - narrow and encrusted. You can't trust some of these species names, because like Lyophyllum, they have never been thoroughly studied in North America!

M. angelesiana ('melaleuca') - darker capped than the others, not stocky. Snowbanks.

The fall species may be the same or different (M. melaleuca, M. graminicola, M. stridula or none of the above). These lack "stinging" cystidia.

M. 'humilis' ('melaleuca') - dark cap, short grey stem, with "stinging" cystidia. Nobody can agree on whether or not M. melaleuca has cystidia.

M. cf. subbrevipes - large (12cm), yellow-brown, lacking encrusted cystidia. A smaller yellowish species perhaps with encrusted cystidia resembling M. brevipes has been found in lawns.

M. verrucipes - This confused us a while ago when it was first introduced from Europe. White, with black scabered stem.

M. evenosa - often stocky and usually a very pale cap. Mid to high elevations.

M. cognata - yellow spores and therefore gills in age. Variable stature, colour and elevation.

Lyophyllum - part of a separate family in the Tricholomatoid clade, these miscellaneous mushrooms can be tricky to identify, as they are mostly grey without anything very distinctive. As with Melanoleuca they have variably attached gills (which makes them easily confused with Clitocyboid mushrooms when the gills are decurrent), a non-viscid greasy to hygrophanous cap, and no partial veil, but they do not have as distinctive a stature as Melanoleuca. The most common groups of Lyophyllums do have distinctive traits, luckily. Usually in the 5-12cm range. They are mycorrhizal.

There are rumours of a whole lot of other Lyophyllum species (that don't cluster and do not turn black) with little that is distinctive about them and therefore very hard to ID. They have never been studied in the PNW!

L. decastes/loricatum/connatum - grey-brown/dark brown/white capped clustered choice edible species. White ones easily confused with poisonous Clitocybe dilatata. All others easily confused with poisonous Entoloma.

L. semitale grp - smells farinaceous and eventually turns black wherever handled. Not clustered. Rumored to be 18 species in this group!

Clitocybe glacialis (formerly Lyophyllum montanum) - <8cm, snowbank, starts chalky white, becomes dark and greasy! Usually with adnexed gills unlike other Clitocybes.

Rugosomyces (formerly Calocybe) - known as the colourful Lyophyllums. Their pretty colours make them distinctive. Not usually hygrophanous. Usually <5cm.

R. carneus - pink w/contrasting white gills, but the pink fades, often in grass

Lyophyllum onychinum - a gorgeous purple-red cap and golden gills, larger. Actually a Lyophyllum even though it is brightly coloured.

R. naucoria (C. fallax) - bright orange, cap sometimes roughened, making it hard to ID.

Tephrocybe, etc. - difficult to ID small (usually <2.5cm) mushrooms also related to Lyophyllum. The caps are hygrophanous. They are parasitic and have spiny spores. (T. rancida is not parasitic, has smooth spores, is not related and will need a new name). The others are related, but have been given new names by some. Ironically, none of these will be left in Tephrocybe. They can be mistaken for Mycena, Rhodocybe or a host of other things.

T. palustris (Sphagnurus palustre) - parasitic on moss, gills variably attached, farinaceous 

T. tylicolor (Sagaranells tylicolor) - notched, on the ground, rotting flesh or feces. Mushroom without strong odor.

T. rancida - grey with a whitish bloom, strongly rancid, notched, long rooting stem. Not related, possibly more related to Termitomyces. <5cm.

Other miscellaneous collybioid mushrooms:

Marasmius oreades - found in grass in the spring. <5cm. Tough but not wiry stem. Often wavy cap, sometimes uplifted margin. Famous for sometimes growing in fairy rings.

Callistosporium luteoolivaceum - <5cm. Greasy olive yellow-brown cap and stem. Usually growing from wood, but sometimes buried. The stem is not cartilaginous. Probably in the Tricholomatoid clade. Hard to recognize, but turns red in KOH. Not hygrophanous.

Macrocystidia cucumis - <5cm. I call this the sushi mushroom, because it actually smells like fish and cucumber, with a hint of rice. OK, I'm joking about the rice. The spores are pinkish, so you might look for it in pink spored attached gilled Entoloma, but it is in fact related to Pluteus. Hygrophanous. In gardens.

Pseudobaeospora - tiny, very rare brown to purple mushrooms (.5 - 2.5cm) with sometimes scaly stems, smooth caps and almost free gills. Tricholomatoid clade.

Pseudolaccaria (Pseudoomphalina) pachyphylla - difficult to ID. The odor is variable (slightly farinaceous or spicy/rancid) and the taste is bitter. The usually thick and widely spaced gills are variably attached and the stem is not tough. The cap starts out hemispherical, is not truly hygrophanous but appears slightly granular and is sometimes umbilicate or wavy. Found on the ground in soil, grass or moss. The spore walls slightly darken in iodine. In the Tricholomatoid clade, related to Callistosporium.

 

 

Omphaliaster asterosporus is a similar darker grey-brown mushroom found in moss, resembling the more common Arrhenia. They have a hygrophanous, striate, umbilicate cap without waviness and short decurrent gills. However, Omphaliaster is farinaceous and it is most confidently identified by its startlingly nodulose spores. It is also a member of the Tricholomatoid clade.

Some Mycenas can be unusually large or not conical. Make sure you don't have one of those.

M. pura - quite large (M), cap flattens in age, purple fading to grey, smells of radish. I've seen blue and albino versions.

M. pearsoniana - very similar. 

M. rutilantiformis/pelianthina - (M) purple gill edges. M. rutilantiformis may have a yellow stem top.

M. maculata - on wood, developing reddish spotting. Other large brownish-grey species exist too.

 

Collybia, Gymnopus and Rhodocollybia are covered online at http://www.nybg.org/bsci/res/col/colintro.html, although the focus is on the Northeast not the Northwest.

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