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The Genus Hypholoma
by Michael Kuo
The mushrooms in Hypholoma are partial to colder weather, and are most frequently found in spring and fall, though they will occasionally fruit in the summer. Most of the species are saprobes on wood, and usually grow in dense clusters. Some species, however, are terrestrial--and a few seem to specialize in moss. The spore print is generally dark brown to purple-brown, resulting in dark, purplish brown or purplish gray gills by maturity. Confusion with Stropharia and Psilocybe can occur when species of Hypholoma are not growing in clusters on wood--and confusion with Pholiota can occur when they are. Species of Pholiota, however, tend to have a dull brown to cinnamon brown spore print.
Microscopically, Hypholoma species have a subcutaneous layer of inflated cells; elliptical, smooth spores that feature a germ pore; and chrysocystidia (cystidia that stain yellowish in KOH when fresh, or appear filled with amorphous granular contents when revived from dried mushrooms).
Hypholoma used to be Naematoloma . . . now it's Hypholoma. It might not be a coincidence that Istanbul was Constantinople; now it's Istanbul. Why did Naematoloma get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks.
Key to Some Species of Hypholoma in North America
Note: I wrote this key many years ago, basing it on a few descriptions in field guides. I do not find it very useful, except as a quick way of scanning through some distinctive features of the more common species (and I find the non-dichotomous form annoying). I plan to write a more extensive key some day, perhaps combining Hypholoma with Pholiota and/or Stropharia. But don't hold your breath; there are plenty of other things I'd rather do first. See the references list below for more extensive Hypholoma keys.
> Cap scarlet to bright orange-red or orange; young cap margin frequently with hanging partial veil remnants; stem developing bright orange stains over lower half; scattered to gregariously in wood chips and sawdust, often on lawns and in gardens. (1/2)
> Not as above. (2/2)
° Growing in clusters on hardwood logs and stumps; cap brick red with a paler marginal area; gills without olive or greenish shades; stem often staining yellow; spores 6-7 x 4-4.5 µ (1/2)
° Not as above. (2/2)
~ Found in southern North America. (1/2)
* Cap 3-5 cm, honey colored; taste bitter; growing singly or in clusters on deciduous and coniferous wood; stem with a distinctive tap-root; spores 5.5-6 x 3.5-4.5 µ. (1/3)
* Cap 2-7.5 cm, orange-brown to cinnamon-brown (but often variable in color); taste mild; growing in clusters on conifer logs; stem without a tap-root; spores 6-7.5 x 3.5-4.5 µ. (2/3)
* Cap 1.5-3 cm, olive-brown becoming tawny, fading to yellowish; taste slightly radishlike; scattered to gregariously in wet soil; stem without a tap-root; spores 11-13 x 6-8 µ. (3/3)
~ Found in northern North America. (2/2)
* Taste mild. (1/2)
-- Cap 1.5-3 cm, dull olive to greenish, drying pinkish buff; gills pale olive buff; stem 3-5 cm long; growing singly or in small clusters in rich humus in wet conifer forests; spores 9-12 x 4.5-5.5 µ. (1/4)
-- Cap 2-7.5 cm, orange-brown to cinnamon-brown (but often variable in color); gills pale, becoming grayish, then purple-brown; stem 5-10 cm long; in large clusters on conifer logs; spores 6-7.5 x 3.5-4.5 µ. (2/4)
-- Cap 1-3 cm, reddish cinnamon to rusty brown, fading to yellowish or greenish yellow; gills whitish, then olive, then greenish yellow; stem 3-10 cm long; in clusters on piles of organic debris in wet soil; spores 9-11 x 5-6 µ. (3/4)
-- Cap 1-4 cm, orange-tawny to tawny, fading to yellowish; gills pale, then olive, flushed green by maturity, finally purple-brown; stem 6-10 cm long; scattered or in small clusters in conifer woods; spores 7-10 x 4-5 µ. (4/4)
* Taste bitter. (2/2)
-- Cap 3-5 cm, honey colored; gills pale, darkening to purplish brown; stem with a distinctive "tap-root"; growing singly or in clusters on deciduous and coniferous wood; spores 5.5-6.5 x 3.5-4.5 µ. (1/4)
-- Cap 1-3 cm, reddish cinnamon to rusty brown, fading to yellowish or greenish yellow; gills white becoming olive, then greenish yellow; stem without a tap-root; growing in clusters on piles of organic debris in wet soil; spores 9-11 x 5-6 µ. (2/4)
-- Cap 1-3 cm, orange-cinnamon to tawny, becoming more yellow (when wet sometimes olive); gills yellowish at first, finally purple-brown; stem without a tap-root; scattered to gregariously in bogs, "especially along rabbit runways" (Smith, 1979, 261); spores 14-18 x 5-7 µ. (3/4)
-- Cap 1-2.5 cm, honey-yellow to olive; gills pale, then gray-brown; stem without a tap-root; growing in moss in swamps and marshes; spores 9-13 x 5.5-7 µ. (4/4)
¹ In his comments for this species, Arora (1986, 384) mentions two mushrooms "similar" to Hypholoma dispersum, not included in the key above: Hypholoma polytrichi, "with yellow gills that become greenish-yellow in age"; and Hypholoma mysotis, "growing in bogs, with a viscid cap and dull cinnamon spores."
Arora, D. (1986). Mushrooms demystified: A comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. 959 pp.
Smith, A. H. (1951). North American species of Naematoloma. Mycologia 43: 466-521.
Smith, A. H., Smith, H. V. & Weber, N. S. (1979). How to know the gilled mushrooms. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown. 334 pp.
Stamets, P. E. (1978). Psilocybe mushrooms and their allies. Seattle: Homestead Book Company. 160 pp.
Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2005, January). The genus Hypholoma. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/hypholoma.html