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Clitopilus prunulus

[Basidiomycota > Agaricales > Entolomataceae > Clitopilus . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Clitopilus prunulus is sometimes called the "Sweetbread Mushroom," or "The Miller"--references to its mealy odor. The smell, labeled "farinaceous" in Mycologese, is sometimes compared to the smell of an old grain mill (have you been in one lately?), or of watermelon rind. Aside from the odor, identifying features for the species include:

  • A brownish pink spore print;
  • A whitish to grayish cap that often features a wavy margin;
  • Gills that run down the stem and are pinkish at maturity;
  • Spores that are pointed-ellipsoid and ridged lengthwise.

The ridged spores of Clitopilus prunulus are interesting, and provide a good reminder that the microscope renders a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional object. It almost appears as though there are two very different types of spores being produced by the same mushroom--until one imagines what an (American) football with ridges might look like when viewed from the end.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously under hardwoods or conifers, in grassy areas and open woods; summer and fall, or in winter in warmer climates; apparently widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 3-12 cm; convex with a somewhat inrolled margin, becoming flat or irregular, often with a wavy margin; dry (or, in var. orcellus, slimy); finely suedelike or nearly bald; white, buff, or pale grayish.

Gills: Running down the stem; close or almost distant; whitish at first, then pinkish.

Stem: 2-8 cm long; up to 1.5 cm thick; sometimes off-center; equal; solid; bald; dry; white or pale grayish.

Flesh: Fairly firm; white; unchanging when sliced.

Odor and Taste: Strongly mealy.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative on cap surface.

Spore Print: Brownish pink.

Microscopic Features: Spores 8-12 x 4-6 µ; ellipsoid with sharply pinched ends; ridged lengthwise; angular to cruciform when viewed from the end. Hymenial cystidia absent. Pileipellis a cutis or ixocutis of elements 3-6 µ wide. Clamp connections absent.

REFERENCES: (Scopoli, 1772) Kummer, 1871. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1887; Kauffman, 1918; Smith, 1975; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Breitenbach & Kränzlin, 1995; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo, 2007; Trudell & Ammirati, 2009.) Herb. Kuo 08050401, 06290705, 08310901.

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


Clitopilus prunulus

Clitopilus prunulus

Clitopilus prunulus

Clitopilus prunulus
Spore print

Clitopilus prunulus

Clitopilus prunulus
Spores in end view

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Kuo, M. (2014, January). Clitopilus prunulus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: