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Entoloma vernum (species cluster)
by Michael Kuo
I'm taking pretty big liberties with the idea of a "species cluster" for "Entoloma vernum." Brownish species of Entoloma are extremely difficult to identify, even with a microscope, and detailed technical literature for the genus is hard to come by. But morel hunters often demand to know what that pointy, brown mushroom with the pink gills is; mushrooms meeting this description are found regularly in the spring, when morels are fruiting.
The short answer is: "It's the springtime Entoloma, Entoloma vernum."
The long answer is: "It might be Entoloma vernum, but it could easily be one of any number of brownish Entoloma species, like Entoloma strictius, Entoloma hirtipes . . . and we're probably not going to be able to figure it out without consulting a professional Entoloma expert."
And the answer to the next question is: "I have no idea where we find an Entoloma expert."
The springtime Entoloma is variable in its shades of brown, but the cap is usually pointy when the mushroom is young, retaining a central nipple even when it grows and flattens out. The mature gills and spore print are pink, and the habitat is on the ground (rather than on wood, which will help separate it from species of Pluteus). The spores, under the microscope, are distinctively shaped, with many sides and angles.
Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone, scattered, or in little groups; terrestrial under hardwoods or conifers; early spring; widely distributed in North America.
Cap: 2-5 cm; conical or bell-shaped, with a pointed center, sometimes flattening with age but retaining a central point; smooth or finely silky; dark to light brown or tan; dry or somewhat sticky when fresh.
Gills: Attached to the stem at first, but eventually receding from it to appear "free"; almost distant; eventually dark pink.
Stem: 2.5-10 cm long; 3-10 mm thick; faintly longitudinally ridged; fragile and easily splitting; colored like the cap or paler; with white basal mycelium.
Flesh: Thin; fragile.
Odor and Taste: Not distinctive or mealy. Beginners should not taste this mushroom!
Spore Print: Pink.
Microscopic Features: Spores 8-12 x 7-9 µ; 5-sided to 6- or 7-sided. Cystidia absent. Pileipellis a cutis; hyphal walls encrusted. Clamp connections present.
Synonyms: Nolanea verna, Rhodophyllus vernus, Entoloma cucullatum, Entoloma tortuosum.
REFERENCES: Lundell, 1937. (Hesler, 1967; Smith, Smith, & Weber, 1979; Noordeloos, 1980; Arora, 1986; Noordeloos, 1988; Hansen & Knudsen, 1992; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Largent, 1994; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 05079502JDM, 05289502, 05289503, 05170203, 05080305.
The description offered above has been broadened to include several species that mycologists believe are distinct. Strictly speaking, the "true" Entoloma vernum is separated from the others on the basis of its slightly lined cap margin, the slightly hair apex of its stem, the fact that the cap changes color markedly as it dries out, its grayish gills (before the spores mature), and microscopic features (spores 9-11 x 7.5-10 µ and abundant caulocystidia measuring 20-50 x 4-15 at the stem apex).
Further Online Information:
Entoloma vernum at Fungi of Poland
Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2005, February). Entoloma vernum (species cluster). Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/entoloma_vernum.html