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The Genus Volvariella  

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Pluteaceae . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

The mushrooms in this small, easily recognized genus have pink gills and spore prints and, as the genus name suggests, volvas at the stem base. Some Amanita species are superficially similar, but have white spores and frequently have rings. Since the gills of Volvariella species are whitish at first, you may need to have mature specimens to be sure you have not collected Amanita species.

Volvariella is traditionally viewed as a member of the Pluteaceae, which also includes Pluteus--but contemporary DNA studies (Moncalvo and collaborators, 2002; Matheny and collaborators, 2006) have had mixed results when it comes to supporting this idea, and it appears that further investigation, focused on Volvariella, may be required before we have a sense of whether the genus is supported and where it belongs in the taxonomic scheme of things.


Volvariella sp.

Key to 20+ Volvariella Species in North America

1.Growing on other mushrooms (species of Clitocybe).
Volvariella surrecta

1.Not growing on other mushrooms.

2.Growing directly from wood (stumps, logs, trees).

2.Growing terrestrially, or in compost or woodchips.

3.Mature cap less than 4 cm wide.

3.Mature cap 4 cm wide or wider.

4.Cap velvety, brownish black over the center with radial brownish black fibers elsewhere; margin not lined; stem light gray; recorded from Florida (by a more trustable source than the state's elections board).
Volvariella lepiotospora

4.Cap not velvety, gray to bluish gray with dark radial fibers; margin lined; stem white; recorded from North Carolina. (Imperfectly described species; type collection lost.)
"Volvariella cinerea"

5.Cap surface bald (not granular, silky, or hairy) and slimy; margin lined; recorded from New York.
Volvariella peckii

5.Cap surface granular, silky, or hairy, dry; margin lined or not; variously distributed.

6.Margin lined; cap surface "granular"; recorded from the Caribbean.
Volvariella jamaicensis

6.Margin not lined; cap surface silky or hairy; variously distributed.

7.Cap white or nearly so; cystidia well over 100 µ long.

7.Cap more highly colored; cystidia variously sized.

8.Cap sooty to dark coffee-colored; cystidia to 80 µ long; recorded from Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
Volvariella bakeri

8.Not as above. Various wood-loving Volvariellas with non-white caps may key out here. Whether or not these mushrooms represent undescribed species or mere color forms of Volvariella bombycina remains to be determined. Contributor Richard Nadon found what I have labeled Volvariella sp. 01 in Quebec; I have found brownish specimens that otherwise equaled Volvariella bombycina in Illinois.
Volvariella spp.?

9.Mature cap 5 cm wide or wider.

9.Mature cap less than 5 cm wide.

10.Cap white or nearly so, bald.

10.Cap not whitish, bald or with fibers or scales.

11.Stem with grooves; cap dry, pure white; margin never lined; spores 16-23 µ long; recorded from Florida.
Volvariella canalipes

11.Stem without grooves; cap sticky to slimy when fresh, white but sometimes grayish over the center; margin sometimes finely lined; spores 11-21 µ long; widely distributed.
Volvariella speciosa
= V. gloiocephala

12.Cap drab to grayish or brownish.

12.Cap dark brown.

13.Stem often with a "ring" (resulting from the collapsing of the volva); cap drab with brownish scales; spores 9-12 µ long; reported from Washington D.C. and possibly Michigan. (Imperfectly described species; type collection lost.)
"Volvariella avellanea"

13.Not as above.

14.Cap 5-10 cm across; stem up to 2 cm wide; spores 7-10.5 µ long; "widely distributed" but typically reported from woodchips, greenhouses, botanical gardens, compost piles, and so on.

14.Cap 2-6 cm across; stem up to 1 cm wide; spores 5.5-9 µ long; widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains.

15.Cap smooth; odor not distinctive; spores 15-20 µ long; recorded from Alabama.
Volvariella alabamensis

15.Cap finely hairy; odor strong and unpleasant; spores 6-8.5 µ long; recorded from Cuba.
Volvariella cubensis

16.Stem often with a "ring" (resulting from the collapsing of the volva); cap drab with brownish scales; spores 9-12 µ long; reported from Washington D.C. and possibly Michigan. (Imperfectly described species; type collection lost.)
"Volvariella avellanea"

16.Not as above.

17.Volva white and conspicuously hairy; cap grayish, 2.5-3.5 cm across, finely hairy; spores 6-7 µ long; found east of the Rocky Mountains.
Volvariella villosavolva

17.Not completely as above.

18.Center area of cap white (the rest of the cap variously colored).

18.Center of cap not white.

19.Cap completely smooth; spores 11-15.5 µ long; recorded from Cuba.
Volvariella earlei

19.Cap with pressed-down fibers or finely hairy; spores 9 µ long or shorter; variously distributed.

20.Cap .5-1.5 cm across when mature; recorded from Michigan.
Volvariella pellucida

20.Cap larger than above when mature; variously distributed.

21.Cap .5-3 cm across when mature; margin lined at maturity; stem smooth; found east of the Rocky Mountains.

21.Cap 2-5 cm across when mature; margin not lined; stem densely but finely hairy; widely distributed in North America.
Volvariella hypopithys

22.Cap grayish to pinkish gray or brownish gray, evenly colored (not markedly darker over the center portion); margin not lined; found east of the Rocky Mountains.

22.Cap whitish overall with a differently colored center, or grayish with a blackish center; margin lined or not; variously distributed.

23.Cap whitish overall with a pinkish center; margin not lined; recorded from the Pacific Northwest.
Volvariella smithii

23.Not as above.

24.Cap whitish overall with a black center; margin not lined; spores 7-8.5 µ long; recorded from Florida.
Volvariella alachuana

24.Cap grayish overall with a blackish center; margin or nearly the entire cap deeply grooved, reminiscent of small Coprinus species; spores 6-7 µ long; recorded from Michigan.
Volvariella nigrodisca


Bateman, G. L. & S. Nabb (2000). Volvariella speciosa in arable fields. Mycologist 14: 16.

Boekhout, T. & M. Enderle (1996). Typification of Volvariella gloiocephala (DC.:Fr.) Boekhout & Enderle. Persoonia 16: 249-251.

Chiu, S. W. & Moore, D. (1990). Development of the basidiome of Volvariella bombycina. Mycological Research 94: 327-337.

Chiu, S. W. & Moore, D. (1993). Cell form, function and lineage in the hymenia of Coprinus cinereus and Volvariella bombycina. Mycological Research 97: 221-226.

Desjardin, D. E. & D. E. Hemmes (2001). Agaricales of the Hawaiian Islands--7. Notes on Volvariella, Mycena sect. Radiatae, Physalacria, Porpoloma and Stropharia. Harvard Papers in Botany 6: 85-103.

Kauffman, C.H. (1918). The gilled mushrooms (Agaricaceae) of Michigan and the Great Lakes region, Volumes I and II. New York: Dover. 924 pp. (1971 Reprint.)

Monoson, H. L., A. S. Methven & W. J. Sundberg (1993). Illinois species of Volvariella (Basidiomycetes, Agaricales, Pluteaceae). Mycotaxon 49: 269-278.

Salmones, D., D. Martinez-Carrera & G. Guzman (1988). Esudio comparativo sobre el cultivo de Volvariella bakeri y Volvariella bombycina en diferentes desechos agroindustriales. Biotica 13: 7-16.

Shaffer, R. L. (1957). Volvariella in North America. Mycologia 49: 545-579.

Shaffer, R. L. (1962). Synonyms, new combinations, and new species in Volvariella (Agaricales). Mycologia 54: 563-572.

Seok, S. J., Y. S. Kim, H. Y. Weon, K. H. Lee, K. M. Park, K. H. Min & K. H. Yoo (2002). Taxonomic study on Volvariella in Korea. Mycobiology 30: 183-192.

Smith, A. H., Smith, H. V. & Weber, N. S. (1979). How to know the gilled mushrooms. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown. 334 pp.

Vázquez, L. S., L. Guzmán-Dávalos & G. Guzmán (1989). Contribucion al conocimiento de las especies del genero Volvariella en Jalisco. Revista Mexicana de Micologia 5: 169-179.

Weber, R. & Webster, J. (1996). Volvariella surrecta: An uncommon mycoparasite. Mycologist 10: 160.

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Kuo, M. (2011, November). The genus Volvariella. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: