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Volvariella bombycina

[ Basidiomycota > Agaricales > Pluteaceae > Volvariella . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This is a fairly widely distributed Volvariella species, found growing on hardwood logs and from wounds in the trunks of standing hardwood treess. It is a fairly large mushroom with a silky white cap that is not lined on the margin; in age the cap may become slightly yellowish in the center. The mature gills and the spore print are brownish pink, and there is a whitish to brownish, cuplike volva at the base of the stem.

Under the microscope, Volvariella bombycina features large hymenial cystidia, and pileipellis elements that are aseptate and very long. The spores are thick-walled and more or less ellipsoid.

A focused, contemporary, DNA-based study of North America's Volvariella bombycina has not been done, to my knowledge, and since there is substantial morphological variability in collections that get labeled "Volvariella bombycina"—especially with regard to spore sizes, cap color, and the color of the volva—such a study might be just what the doctor ordered.

A yellow variety, Volvariella bombycina var. flaviceps, was described from Florida by Murrill in 1949; he described the cap as "uniformly bright-flavous."

Thanks to Devon Beltz for documenting, collecting, and preserving Volvariella bombycina for study; his collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Saprobic on the wood of various hardwoods, either on dead trees or from the wounds of living, standing trees in forests or urban areas; usually growing alone but sometimes growing gregariously; late spring, summer and fall; widely distributed in North America but much more common east of the Rocky Mountains (and in western areas usually appearing in urban settings on the wood of cultivated trees); also found Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and central Asia—and occasionally reported from Africa and Oceania. The illustrated and described collections are from Illinois and Louisiana.

Cap: 5–12 cm; oval to subconic at first, becoming bell-shaped to broadly convex or nearly flat; dry; covered with silky hairs; snow white when young and fresh, but the hairs often becoming yellowish to brownish in age, especially over the center; the margin not becoming lined.

Gills: Free from the stem; crowded; white at first, becoming pink.

Stem: 6–15 cm long; 1–2.5 cm thick; more or less equal, but usually tapering somewhat to apex; often curved in order to set the cap "straight" due to growth on standing trees; dry; fairly bald; white; without a ring; the base encased in a thick, white to yellowish or brown, sack-like volva.

Flesh: White; unchanging when sliced.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative on cap surface.

Spore Print: Brownish pink.

Microscopic Features: Spores 6–9 x 3.5–5 µm; ellipsoid; smooth; thick-walled; yellowish in KOH; inamyloid. Pleurocystidia 50–70 x 15–25 µm; lageniform or occasionally ellipsoid to subglobose; thin-walled; smooth; hyaline in KOH. Cheilocystidia similar to pleurocystidia; 35–50 x 10–15 µm. Pileipellis a non-gelatinized cutis; elements 10–35 µm wide, aseptate, smooth, thin-walled; hyaline in KOH, gradually tapering to a rounded apex.

REFERENCES: (Schaeffer, 1774) Singer, 1951. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1887; Kauffman, 1918; Coker, 1947; Murrill, 1949; Shaffer, 1957; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Phillips, 1981; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; Boekhout, 1990; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Monoson, Methven & Sundberg, 1993; Breitenbach & Kränzlin, 1995; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Menolli & Capelari, 2008; Kuo & Methven, 2010; Justo et al., 2011b; Kuo & Methven, 2014; Evenson, 2015; Baroni, 2017; Elliott & Steohenson, 2018; Kosonen, 2018; Læssøe & Petersen, 2019.) Herb. Kuo 06291001, 07021502, 08132002.

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Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina
Spore print

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

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Kuo, M. (2020, September). Volvariella bombycina. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: