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Expert links: Pluteus Volvariella

The Pluteaceae are the second family of salmon-pink spored mushrooms. Pluteaceae found in the PNW contain two traditional genera, Pluteus and Volvariella (the latter having a sac-like volva at the base of the stem like some deadly poisonous Amanitas). Volvariella actually represents two unrelated genera that look the same, one of which is not even in this family. Pluteaceae all have free gills and are usually found on wood although some "Volvariella" are found on the ground. They are saprophytic. Usually dry capped, seldom hygrophanous, never with a partial veil. Most Pluteus are 5-15cm or so unless otherwise specified. Few are known to be poisonous.

Pluteaceae is probably sister to Amanita, which you have to admit, they do look like. Other mushrooms related to Pluteus, but not found on this page because they don't look the same, are Melanoleuca and Macrocystidia.


This page should be small enough to browse. For species with a volva, jump to Volvariella.


Section Pluteus - By far the most common species complex in this family, the deer mushrooms (Pluteus 'cervinus' group). They smell and taste strongly of radish, and can also be recognized by black fibrils on the stem. For a positive ID, you may have to look under the microscope for "clamp connections" in the tissues. Up to 10cm across.

P. exilis ('cervinus') - the most common "deer pelt" coloured form. P. cervinus may also occur here. They may be darker or lighter like latter species, but these don't have "clamps".

P. primus - darker brown, on conifers. With "clamps".

P. orestes - pale tan, high elevations on conifers. With "clamps". P. petasatus, below, is similar.

Other Section Pluteus - Most of these next species are also section Pluteus and closely related to P. cervinus and share unique "jester hat" shaped horned cystidia under the microscope. The related species usually also smell somewhat of radish.

P. atromarginatus - black marginate gill edges!

P. petasatus (magnus) - usually whitish, overlain with dark fibres but usually without black fibrils on the stem. On urban area hardwoods. Southern species. May be larger than P. 'cervinus', also clampless, but sometimes very difficult to tell apart.

P. brunneidiscus (washingtonensis) - ~5cm, smaller than P. cervinus, sometimes with a dark centre. Bald stem. Usually on hardwoods. With clamp connections. Compare with P. thomsonii below.

P. 'salicinus' - small, white stem (without dark fibrils) that turns blue when handled. Contains psilocybin like the magic mushrooms. Hardwoods.

P. phaeocyanopus - stem bluing, dark cap, below, unrelated, not radish-like.

Section Celluloderma - Colourful, mostly small (<5cm) Pluteus to watch for, that do not have the "jester cap" cystidia. They do not smell of radish.

P. romellii (lutescens) - yellow stem!, felty-ish dark brown cap. Hardwoods.

P. rugosidiscus (chrysophlebius) - yellow gills & stem, olive-brown smooth cap. (Hardwoods)

Pluteus aurantiorugosus - beautiful orange cap and stem. Hardwoods.

P. phaeocyanopus - stem bluing, dark cap.

Section Hispoderma - velvety, granular or hairy capped species. Usually not smelling of radish.

P. leoninus (flavofuligineus) - yellow-brown, granular to felty cap, but not as consistently coloured as P. aurantiorugosus. <7cm. Hardwood.

P. granularis/umbrosus grp - rough, granulated-scaly cap and stem, no yellow tones like P. leoninus.

P. plautus grp - only the cap is scaly.

P. thomsonii - often reticulated cap. Much like P. brunneidiscus if the cap is normal, but this will be more umbonate with erect hairs.

P. tomentosulus - ~5cm, white, hairy cap.

Volvariella - usually white or off-white and with a sac-like volva at the base of the stem that makes them look like the deadly poisonous Amanitas. One species now called Volvopluteus is most closely related to Pluteus, and the rest of them are somewhat more distantly related. None are common and you're more likely to find a deadly Amanita, so remember that before you eat one. Some even grown on the ground, uncharacteristic for the Pluteaceae. They range in size from 2.5cm to 20cm.

Volvopluteus gloiocephalus (Volvariella speciosa) - large, viscid, found on the ground. The only viscid species.

Volvariella bombycina - huge, on hardwood, silky with a much larger volva.

Volvariella hypopithys/smithii - small (<5cm), on humus. The volva is white/off white. Entirely pruinose stem is remarkable.

V. pusilla - stem not pruinose, even smaller (<3cm). In damp gardens and lawns.

Volvariella surrecta grows parasitically on Clitocybe nebularis but is very rare. It has a grey, fuzzy cap. <10cm

Volvariella volvacea is the common paddy straw mushroom found in many Asian dishes. It should not occur here, but may have escaped into the wild. It also has greyish brown colours and the cap can be velvety.


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