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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Inky Caps of the PNW
by Danny Miller

Click here for my Pictorial Key to the Inky Caps

Parasola - click to expand

These species are often extremely pleated, occasionally with tiny cap hairs sticking out, which may have more of a tendency to open up and flatten in age than other genera. There's often a bright brown eye on the disc. There is no universal veil material on the cap (nor any other pileal cystidial elements), and they don't really turn to ink, just tatter. The gills are often distinctly free. They are often found in grass and gardens. They can be very difficult to separate from Coprinellus and Tulosesus. Coprinellus is more likely to have granular veil particles on the cap. Tulosesus is even harder to differentiate, but probably doesn't have as distinct an eye on the disc. But even if you get to genus, we don't yet know how to differentiate the species without DNA.

Note that one 'Psathyrella' species that is not pleated turned out to be a new section of Parasola. It is very difficult to tell apart from Psathyrella.

Species mentioned: Parasola plicatilis, auricoma, lactea, neoplicatilis, conopilea

Coprinellus - click to expand

Usually also golden brown in youth, and also strongly pleated, also often free gills, very much like Parasola, although there is not usually as sharp an eye on the disc. These are species with a universal veil material made up of roundish cells often visible as particles on the young, fresh cap. The caps may turn to ink, or they just might tatter. The segregated Tulosesus is more likely to have no universal veil, but microscopic cap hairs. (as well as angular spores). However, it should be noted that of all the segregate genera in the Psathyrellaceae family, the segregation of Tulosesus from Coprinellus is the least backed up by data.

Species mentioned: Coprinellus micaceus, saccharinus, domesticus, radians, bipellis, xanthothrix, flocculosus, aquatilis. Coprinus arachnoideus, bubalinus, alutaceivelatus. Coprinopsis bulalina, alutaceivelata.

Tulosesus - click to expand

This new genus is hard to characterize. Again, the usually pleated caps may deliquesce or they may just tatter. They don't usually grow on wood, are often golden brown, fading to grey in age except in the centre, but the eye on the disc won't usually be as distinct as in Parasola. The caps may be slightly granular, but do not usually have the mica particles or veil material of the Coprinellus species above (more usually just very tiny hairs (setae) instead). They are not usually as finely pleated as Parasola. They were segregated from Coprinellus, but it should be noted that of all the segregate genera in the Psathyrellaceae family, the segregation of Tulosesus from Coprinellus may be the least backed up by data, so feel free to still think of these as Coprinellus section Setulosi for now.

Species mentioned: Tulosesus impatiens, heterosetulosus, hiascens, congregatus, ephemerus, sclerocystidiosus, eurysporus, velatopruinatus

Coprinopsis - click to expand

Microscopically, the pileipellis is a cutis, which means the top layer of the cap has strings of cells laying flat. To the naked eye, they often have shaggy veil material on the cap, but not always, and so do some other genera occasionally. The caps are often greyish, and they usually completely deliquesce. The sizes can range from miniscule to very large (caps 1 mm to 10 cm). Not all Coprinopsis turn to ink. Some former Psathyrellas that do not deliquesce may be recognized by their relatively stocky stature and large spores >10u across.

Species mentioned: Coprinopsis atramentaria, atramentaria var. crassivelata, depressiceps, striata, pinguispora, acuminata, romagnesiana, strossmayeri, picacea, lagopus, lagopides, marcida, brunneistragulata, jonesii, pachyderma, cinerea, fimetarius, friesii, nivea, pseudonivea, stercorea, tetraspora, subdomestica, undulata, sylvicola, kubickae, phaeospora, psychromorbida, uliginicola, canoceps, marcescibilis. Psathyrella longipes, fragilissima, elwhaensis, huronensis. Coprinus alnivorus.

Narcissea - click to expand

Microscopically, these don't quite match Coprinopsis nor Coprinellus, but they look more like Coprinopsis, so that's where they used to be placed. Genetically, they turned out to be very closely related to Coprinellus, which is interesting. That definitely qualifies them for their own genus. The pileipellis is not a cutis, there are some spherical universal veil cells on the cap but there are no pileocystidia. The spores are strongly flattened with a polygonal outline. Sorry, but that's the definition of this genus. Now, one species has now been found here.


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