Major Groups > Gilled Mushrooms > Dark-Spored > Galerina marginata


Galerina marginata ("Galerina autumnalis")

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Cortinariaceae > Galerina . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This gorgeous mushroom appears in field guides as "Galerina autumnalis," but recent DNA studies have synonymized that species (and others) with Galerina marginata. See the comments below for the gory details.

Crucial identifying features of this mushroom include:

  • Growth on wood, often in clusters;
  • Rusty brown spore print (see bottom illustration);
  • Relatively small size;
  • A thin ring or ring zone, which may disappear;
  • Brown to tawny cap that may fade in age.

    Galerina marginata can be found just about any time during the year, though it is more prevalent in the fall. In central Illinois I frequently find it in spring, while hunting for morels.


    Ecology: Saprobic on the rotting wood of fallen hardwoods and conifers; growing gregariously, or in clusters (rarely alone); widely distributed; most frequent in fall, but often encountered in spring--and not infrequently found in summer and winter.

    Cap: 1-4 cm; convex or nearly flat, sometimes slightly bell-shaped; slimy when fresh or wet, otherwise sticky or dry; smooth; brown to tawny brown, sometimes fading to yellowish or tan; the margin finely lined (when fresh and moist).

    Gills: Attached to the stem or even running slightly down it--but sometimes pulling away from the stem in age; close; yellowish at first, eventually becoming rusty brown or brownish as the spores mature; not bruising.

    Stem: 2-10 cm long; 3-6 mm thick; more or less equal; typically curving when growing in clusters; dry; hollow; finely shaggy below; when young with a whitish partial veil covering the gills--later with a ring that is often fragile and collapsed, or with a ring zone (though specimens are sometimes found in which all evidence of the partial veil has disappeared); the ring white at first but soon dusted with rusty brown spores; whitish, darkening below in age; sometimes with whitish mycelial threads.

    Flesh: Insubstantial; watery brown.

    Odor: Mild or slightly mealy (crush the flesh between your fingers).

    Spore Print: Rusty brown.

    Microscopic Features: Spores 8-11 x 5-6.5 µ; roughened or wrinkled; elliptical.

    REFERENCES: (Batsch, 1789) Kühner, 1935. (G. autumnalis: Smith & Singer, 1964; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; G. marginata: Gulden, Dunham & Stockman, 2001.) Herb. Kuo 05149501, 05249701, 03120301, 03120302.

    A study in 2001 of several dozen Galerina species (Gulden, Dunham & Stockman; citation below) found the European and North American species Galerina autumnalis, G. marginata, G. oregonensis, G. unicolor, and G. venenata to be genetically identical, despite their morphological differences. By the rules of botanical nomenclature, the oldest valid name among these species, Galerina marginata, takes precedence.

    See: Gulden, G., Dunham, S. & Stockman, J. (2001). DNA studies in the Galerina marginata complex. Mycological Research 105: 432-440.

    Further Online Information:

    Galerina autumnalis at MykoWeb


    Galerina marginata

    Galerina marginata

    Galerina marginata

    Galerina marginata

    Galerina marginata

    Meixner Test
    Results of a Meixner Test on Galerina marginata. The bluish color indicates the presence of amatoxins.

    Galerina marginata spore print
    Spore Print

    © MushroomExpert.Com

    Cite this page as:

    Kuo, M. (2004, August). Galerina marginata. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: