|Major Groups > Gilled Mushrooms > Pale-Spored > Lepiota & Satellite Genera > Lepiota cristata|
by Michael Kuo
There are many small, woodland species of Lepiota, and identifying them to species can be quite a challenge. The species in the Lepiota cristata cluster are recognized by their diminutive size (cap 1-5 cm), the presence of pinkish to brownish scales on the cap, the smooth stem that bears a fragile ring, and the usually distinctive--but hard to describe--smell (see below). Microscopic features, including bullet-shaped spores and a hymeniform pileipellis, will confirm identification.
Ecology: Saprobic; growing scattered or gregariously, often in disturbed ground areas like paths, ditches, lawns, and so on, but also on the forest floor; always near trees, in my experience; summer and fall; widely distributed in North America.
Cap: 1-5 cm; convex, becoming broadly convex to broadly bell-shaped or flat in age; dry; smooth at first but soon becoming scaly, the scales pinkish to reddish brown or brownish, usually concentrically arranged; the center typically remaining smooth and darker; whitish.
Gills: Free from the stem; white to buff; close.
Stem: 2-8 cm long; 2-5 mm thick; more or less equal; smooth; fragile; whitish but often darker towards the base; with a fragile, white ring (which may easily disappear) on the upper portion.
Flesh: White; thin.
Odor and Taste: Taste not distinctive; odor sometimes "not distinctive," but typically distinctive enough get one's attention. Gary Lincoff even invents the common name "Malodorous Lepiota" for the mushroom, describing the smell as "strong, foul, fishy or spicy." Roger Phillips: "unpleasant, strongly fungusy or mild." David Arora: "mild or sweet and fruity or pungent." Alexander Smith: "pungent, spicy, to lacking." The word "fragrant" often comes to my mind.
Microscopic Features: Spores 5-8 x 3-5 µ; smooth; strongly to weakly dextrinoid; distinctively shaped like a wedge or a bullet. Cheilocystidia to about 25 x 10 µ; inflated-clavate. Pleurocystidia absent. Pileipellis a hymeniform layer of elements about 15-40 x 5-10 µ.
REFERENCES: (Bolton [description, illustration], 1788) Kummer, 1871. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1887; Atkinson, 1900; Kauffman, 1918; Kauffman, 1924; H. V. Smith, 1954; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Arora, 1986; Kyde & Peterson, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Vellinga, 1998; Barron, 1999; Akers & Sundberg, 2001; Vellinga, 2001; Roody, 2003; Vellinga, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 08230203.
In a study of cristata-like specimens, Vellinga (2001) found the DNA of some collections made under Redwood and Monterey Cypress to be distinct. Of the four genetically distinct groups Vellinga discovered, one redwood-associated cristata-like species from the Mendocino, California area is apparently inseparable from Lepiota cristata on the basis of morphology. Two other groups, representing specimens found under redwood or Monterey cypress, are not separable from each other but can be tentatively distinguished from Lepiota cristata and the Mendocino species on the basis of their convex (rather than bell-shaped), orangish brown caps; Vellinga applies the label Lepiota castaneidisca Murrill to these groups. The fourth group was comprised of genetically identical Lepiota cristata specimens from across the globe.
Species of Lepiota with bullet-shaped spores have traditionally been grouped together in taxonomic schemes, comprising the "stenosporic" species (often given a section of the genus, Stenosporae). However, DNA analysis by Vellinga (1998, 2003) does not support the idea that stenosporic species are necessarily closely related.
Further Online Information:
Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2007, October). Lepiota cristata. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/lepiota_cristata.html