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Volvariella hypopithys

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

by Michael Kuo

A little over 23 years ago, in the woods of northern Michigan, I collected Volvariella hypopithys. It was a small, white mushroom with pink gills and a gorgeous white volva encasing the base of the stem like a sack. Its cap was dry and silky, and its stem was finely fuzzy. There were two specimens, growing from the ground near the edge of a dirt road, under both hardwoods and conifers.

I took a few notes, made an identification, and preserved the collection. I did not own a camera back then, and though I sometimes drew or painted my collections, I shied away from white mushrooms because my coloring and painting skills were not up to that task. So I made no illustration of the little mushrooms, and they sat in my herbarium, unnoticed and unappreciated, for more than two decades. Only when revisiting the genus Volvariella this year did I pull out the collection, and I was thrilled to rediscover the features that separate Volvariella hypopithys from the more common Volvariella pusilla: the stem of the latter species is more or less bald, and its cap becomes lined from the margin to about halfway to the center; Volvariella hypopithys, in contrast, features a fuzzy stem and a non-lined cap margin.

Aaaand, my amazing wife, Melissa Kuo, was magically able to recreate my Volvariella hypopithys collection in its fresh state by using the dried specimens as models and making odd tapping sounds on our iPad, so I can feature the illustration here on a webpage—all of which would have been science fiction when I picked the little mushrooms!


Ecology: Apparently saprobic; growing alone or gregariously; usually reported from woodland settings, under conifers, but also reported under hardwoods and in urban settings; spring through fall; widely distributed in North America. The illustrated and described collection is from Michigan.

Cap: 2–3.5 cm across; broadly bell-shaped, or nearly flat, with a central bump; dry; finely silky; white; the margin not lined.

Gills: Free from the stem; crowded; brownish pink at maturity.

Stem: 3–5 cm long; 2–4 mm thick; more or less equal; dry; finely fuzzy; white; without a ring; the base encased in a thick, white, flaring volva.

Flesh: Thin; white; not changing when sliced.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Spore Print: Brownish pink.

Microscopic Features: Spores 6–8 x 4.5–6 µm; ellipsoid or slightly ovoid; thick-walled; smooth; hyaline to slightly yellowish in KOH. Basidia 4-sterigmate. Cheilocystidia and pleurocystidia 60–75 x 10–15 µm; lageniform to widely lageniform or subclavate, often with a long neck; smooth; hyaline in KOH. Pileipellis a trichoderm of very long, cylindric elements 7.5–12.5 µm wide, smooth, hyaline in KOH, septate; terminal cells cylindric with rounded apices. Clamp connections not found.

REFERENCES: (Fries, 1874) M. Moser, 1953. (Kauffman, 1918; Shaffer, 1957; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Arora, 1986; Boekhout, 1990; Monoson, Methven & Sundberg, 1993; Breitenbach & Kränzlin, 1995; Seok et al., 2002; McNeil, 2006; Justo, 2010; Justo et al., 2011b.) Herb. Kuo 09049505.

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


Volvariella hypopithys

Volvariella hypopithys
Dried specimen: stem surface

Volvariella hypopithys
Spore print

Volvariella hypopithys

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Kuo, M. (2018, November). Volvariella hypopithys. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: