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Clitocybe maxima

[Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Tricholomataceae > Clitocybe...]

by Michael Kuo

My buddy and I were trying to wrap up a long day of mushroom hunting, wearily working our way down switch-backs in La Plata County, Colorado, when we agreed that no matter how tired we were, we couldn't pass up mushrooms we could see from the car from 50 yards away!

Clitocybe maxima is aptly named. It is more or less an overgrown version of Infundibulicybe gibba--and is treated by some authors as Clitocybe gibba var. maxima. It is identified by its pinkish tan, centrally depressed cap; its enormous size (caps reaching over 30 cm); its pale gills, which run down the stem; and its range, in the mountains of western North America.

Though an official transfer has not been made (to my knowledge), Infundibulicybe maxima might be the best name for this taxon--or perhaps the mushroom featured here is in need of a new name, since "Clitocybe maxima" refers to a European species that has been so variously interpreted that it might "best be regarded as a nomen dubium [doubtful name]" (Kuyper, 1995).

Infundibulicybe geotropa is another giant species that apparently shares the range of Clitocybe maxima; its cap has a central bump which remains, even when the mushroom becomes shallowly vase-shaped. In addition, its stem is often longer. The most reliable separator, however, is microscopic: its spores are round, rather than elliptical.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone or, more frequently, in groups or fairy rings; under hardwoods or conifers; often found in grassy woodland clearings; summer and fall; in the Rocky Mountains and in montane western North America.

Cap: 8-30 cm (the pocket knife in the illustration is just over 10 cm long!); at first flat or with a central depression, becoming shallowly vase-shaped; dry; smooth; pinkish tan or slightly darker.

Gills: Running down the stem; close; white or tinged pale pinkish.

Stem: 3-10 cm long; up to 4 cm thick; more or less equal; dry; fairly smooth; whitish, off-white, or a very pale version of the cap color; the base usually covered with white mycelium.

Flesh: Thin; whitish.

Odor and Taste: Taste not distinctive; odor not distinctive or sweetish-unpleasant.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Details: Spores 6-11 x 5-7 µ; more or less elliptical; smooth; inamyloid. Cystidia absent. Clamp connections present.

REFERENCES: (Gaertner & Meyer, 1799) Kümmer, 1871. (Saccardo, 1887; Kauffman, 1918; Smith, 1975; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Bigelow, 1982; Arora, 1986; States, 1990.) Herb. Kuo 08150305.

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Clitocybe maxima

Clitocybe maxima

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Kuo, M. (2008, April). Clitocybe maxima. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: