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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Pluteus, Volvopluteus and Volvariella of the PNW
by Danny Miller

Click here for my Pictorial Key to Pluteus, Volvopluteus and Volvariella

Introduction

This part of the Pluteaceae family is easy to recognize, having evolved free gills and pink spores. Pluteus grow on wood and do not have a volva at the bottom of the stem. Volvopluteus and Volvariella do have a sac volva (like some Amanita) and are found in a variety of habitats like wood, cultivated soil, grass, and parasitic on other mushrooms. Volvopluteus has a smooth, viscid cap. Volvariella has a fibrillose, dry cap. They are often tall, thin, statuesque mushrooms, whose caps may flatten out. This stature, the free gills and the volva that some have, are shared by their sister family, Amanitaceae, which did not evolve the pink spores. Melanoleuca is the other common genus in the Pluteaceae, but with attached gills and white spores, the only feature they have in common with their other family members is their tall statuesque, often flat capped nature, which is sometimes key to identifying a Melanoleuca.

abundant common uncommon rare - colour codes match my Pictorial Key and are my opinions and probably reflect my bias of living in W WA. Rare species may be locally common in certain places at certain times.

Click here to download the FASTA data of all my DNA sequences

Summary of Interesting Results

Here are some of the newest, most interesting results of the study:

  • a paper declared that Pluteus exilis was the only "deer" mushroom known from the PNW, not P. cervinus itself, but their sample size was very small and I have shown that P. cervinus is indeed abundant in the PNW as well.
  • Pluteus leucoborealis was discovered in the PNW.
  • If Pluteus laricinus does not turn out to be a synonym of P. atromarginatus, the proper name for our species with black marginate gill edges is P. laricinus.
  • As usual, some local species are somewhat genetically different here than in their type areas, so it's possible they may need new names and this should be studied further - e.g. Pluteus salicinus, P. leoninus (along with the real species), P. plautus (up to 3 genetic species)
  • Not previously known from the PNW: Pluteus aff. nanus, P. aff. hispidulus

Pluteus section Pluteus - click to expand

No sac volva. Growing on wood. This section smells and tastes like radish and has pleurocystidia on the gill faces that are fat and spindle shaped and look like they are wearing a jester cap.

Species mentioned: Pluteus cervinus, exilis, primus, orestes, parilis n.p., pouzarianus, atromarginatus, laricinus, salicinus, petasatus, magnus, leucoborealis, brunneidiscus, washingtonensis, heterocystis, pellitus, nothopellitus, hongoi

Pluteus section Celluloderma - click to expand

No sac volva. Growing on wood. This section does not smell of radish and does not have the jester capped pleurocystidia. The microscopic cap cuticle is composed of rounded elements, which makes the cap susceptible to wrinkling. (There may also be elongated elements like section Hispidoderma, but that section should not have any rounded elements). Usually they are colourful and have a smooth cap, but they might have a felty or fibrillose cap like section Hispidoderma, so if you don't have a microscope, also check that section.

Species mentioned: Pluteus fulvobadius, romellii, chrysophlebius, rugosidiscus, aurantiorugosus, phaeocyanopus, thomsonii, tomentosulus, nanus, hispidulus

Pluteus section Hispidoderma - click to expand

No sac volva. Growing on wood. This section does not smell of radish and does not have the jester capped pleurocystidia. The microscopic cap cuticle is composed of elongated elements. (Section Celluloderma may also have elongated elements, but it should have at least some rounded elements too). Usually they have a fibrillose or velvety cap, but not always, so if you don't have a microscope, also check section Celluloderma.

Species mentioned: Pluteus leoninus, flavofuligineus, umbrosus, granularis, plautus, latifolius

Volvopluteus - click to expand

Sac volva. Growing on the ground, but often in rich soil or grass. The cap is viscid and smooth.

Species mentioned: Volvopluteus gloiocephalus, Volvariella speciosa

Volvariella - click to expand

Sac volva. Growing on wood, the ground, rich soil, grass or other mushrooms. The cap is dry and fibrillose.

Species mentioned: Volvariella volvacea, bombycina, surrecta, pusilla, hypopithys, smithii

 

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