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Entoloma vernum

[Basidiomycota > Agaricales > Entolomataceae > Entoloma . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

A lot of pointy, brown entolomatoid mushrooms appear in springtime woods on our continent, and they are often encountered by morel hunters and others who are eager to spend time in the woods after a long winter. Although these mushrooms can be labeled "Entoloma vernum" in a field-guide-ish sense, many of North America's springtime Entoloma species are probably unnamed--and even those that meet a stricter definition of the European species Entoloma vernum, like the mushrooms from northern Michigan described and illustrated here, might not survive the application of this species name in a contemporary, DNA-based setting.

The European Entoloma vernum is defined primarily on the basis of microscopic characters, including a lack of cheilocystidia, the presence of encrusting pigment in the pileipellis and clamp connections in the hymenium, and heterodiametric spores averaging over 10 µ long. Macroscopic features include the dark stem with pale hairs at the apex, and the occurrence in conifer forests in spring.

Nolanea verna is a synonym.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing scattered to gregariously under red pine and other conifers; spring; North American distribution uncertain (the illustrated and described collection was made in northern Michigan; see also the comments above and below).

Cap: 2-5.5 cm; conic to broadly conic, flattening out somewhat but retaining a sharp, central "nipple"; dry; silky to nearly bald; sometimes appearing to have sheen; dark brown to medium brown; the margin becoming slightly lined with age.

Gills: Narrowly attached to the stem, or nearly free from it; close or nearly distant; dull buff to grayish or brownish at first, becoming pinkish; short-gills frequent.

Stem: 3-10 cm long; 4-8 mm thick; equal, or slightly tapered toward the apex; dry; finely fibrillose near the apex, but nearly bald elsewhere; brownish to tan or brown overall, but paler at the apex; sometimes twisted; basal mycelium white.

Flesh: Thin; insubstantial; brownish.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Spore Print: Pink.

Microscopic Features: Spores 8-11 x 5-8 µ; 5- to 6-sided; heterodiametric; smooth; hyaline. Lamellar edge fertile. Hymenial cystidia absent. Pileipellis a cutis with areas of semi-erect elements; elements brown to brownish in 10% ammonia; pigment finely encrusted in places, but also intracellular. Clamp connections absent in pileipellis; present in hymenium.

REFERENCES: Lundell, 1937. (Hesler, 1967; Smith, Smith 7 Weber, 1979; Arora, 1986; Noordeloos, 1988; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Largent, 1994; Breitenbach & Kränzlin, 1995; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Noordeloos, 2008.) Herb. Kuo 05289502, 05289503, 05170203.

Several paler brown, hardwood-associated versions of "Entoloma vernum" can be found in eastern North America, and these are often depicted in field guides without any discussion of the crucial microscopic features (see above) that would separate species definitively.

Hesler's 1967 treatment of Entoloma in the southeastern United States does not include Entoloma vernum, but using Hesler's keys for a vernum-like collection one arrives at Hesler's species Entoloma tortuosum, which he named as new on the basis of a Tennessee collection made in March in "mixed deciduous-coniferous woods." European Entoloma expert Machiel Noordeloos, studying Hesler's type collection (1988), decided it was actually Entoloma vernum and synonymized the name tortuosum. No contemporary, DNA-based study, however, has investigated the issue.

In his West-Coast treatment, Largent (1994) records Entoloma vernum (as Nolanea verna) from Alaska and suggests it is very rare or absent elsewhere in the west; however, Largent names a variety with isodiametric, rather than heterodiametric, spores from Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming (Nolanea verna var. isodiametrica).

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Entoloma vernum

Entoloma vernum

Entoloma vernum
Pileipellis elements

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Kuo, M. (2014, February). Entoloma vernum. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: