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Agrocybe and Cyclocybe
by Michael Kuo
The mushrooms in Agrocybe and Cyclocybe have brown spore prints and are small to medium-sized, saprobic species that grow in grass, wood chips, dung, garden mulch, or in woods—either terrestrially, or from deadwood. They are not subject to rapid decay (in contrast to the mushrooms in Bolbitius), and the caps, with a few exceptions, are dry. Unlike species of Conocybe, which have "cone heads," Agrocybe species have convex to bell-shaped or nearly flat caps.
In my area (central Illinois) May and June are the months for most Agrocybe species, and the little mushrooms proliferate in urban settings and along country roads in ditches and fields. There's no stopping them—but, after the first or second excited Agrocybe stop of the year, my eager slides to meager. The truth is, they're kind of boring, and many of them look very similar.
Field characters used to identify Agrocybe and Cyclocybe species include overall dimensions, the presence or absence of a partial veil (leaving remnants on the edge of the cap, or a ring on the stem), and information about where the mushrooms were growing: in grass, in woodchips, in the woods, or in urban settings.
However, identification in Agrocybe and Cyclocybe often hinges on microscopic examination. Observation of spores—their dimensions, and the size of the pore at one end of the spore, if present—can settle several identification quandaries in this group of mushrooms. Occasionally, observation of cystidia is also important.
Traditionally, Cyclocybe erebia and Cyclocybe cylindracea (AKA cylindrica and aegerita) were treated as species of Agrocybe, since the mushrooms share so many morphological features. But recent research (Vizzini, Angelini & Ercole 2014) demonstrates that erebia and cylindracea are actually not very closely related to Agrocybe species, using phylogenetic species concepts.
Key to 16 Species of Agrocybe and Cyclocybe in North America
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Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2021, February). Agrocybe and Cyclocybe. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/agrocybe.html