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Parasola conopilus

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Psathyrellaceae > Parasola . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

With impressive, long setae on the cap surface, abundant cheilocystidia, and large spores, this mushroom is pretty distinctive under the microscope--but not to the naked eye. Despite its current genus name, it looks like a whole slew of boring, brown Psathyrella species, and until very recently it was known as Psathyrella conopilus (or Psathyrella conopilea). Like species in Psathyrella (as traditionally defined), Parasola conopilus features a fragile stem, a dark spore print, and a hygrophanous brown cap. But several recent studies have supported placing this species in the coprinoid genus Parasola; see the discussion below if you care.

Psathyrella circellatipes is similar, but grows in dense clusters on the wood of aspens, cottonwoods, and other hardwoods; it features orangish hairs on the cap and stem base when young.

Three papers published in a two-year period (Padamsee and collaborators, 2008; Larsson & Örstadius, 2008; Nagy and collaborators, 2009) presented DNA results that included Parasola conopilus. In all three studies specimens labeled Psathyrella conopilus grouped with the genus Parasola--usually in a basal position (suggesting that the species in Parasola may have evolved from a species like Parasola conopilus). Also in all three studies, the genus Psathyrella as traditionally defined was incoherent, dividing itself all over the map with Coprinopsis, Coprinellus, and Lacrymaria.

Despite similar results for Psathyrella conopilus, the papers present different proposals for the taxon. Padamsee and collaborators suggest that "P. conopilus could represent a unique genus" (427), since, despite the fact that it groups with Parasola, it has pileocystidia when none of the other known species of Parasola demonstrate this morphological feature. Larsson and Örstadius simply transfer Psathyrella conopilus to Parasola as an official new combination. Nagy and collaborators agree, because "inclusion in Parasola is better justified so as to keep the number of new genera as low as possible" (35).

Psathyrella conopilus (also known as Psathyrella conopilea) is a synonym. Psathyrella subatrata is also a synonym, according to some mycologists.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing scattered to gregariously or in loose clusters of 2-4 mushrooms (but not densely clustered) from the deadwood or litter of hardwoods, or from dung; found in hardwood forests or in cultivated areas; spring and fall; widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 2-5 cm; broadly conical, often becoming broadly bell-shaped or nearly convex; bald; sometimes becoming radially wrinkled; dull reddish brown, fading to buff; changing color markedly as it dries out; without veil remnants.

Gills: Attached to the stem; close; brownish at first, becoming dark purplish brown to nearly black; with whitish edges.

Stem: 6-19 cm long; up to 5 mm thick; equal; fragile; hollow; bald or very finely silky; white; without a ring.

Flesh: Thin; fragile; watery brownish.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Spore Print: Black.

Microscopic Features: Spores 14-19 x 7-8.5 µ; ellipsoid; with an eccentric pore; smooth; dark brown in KOH. Pleurocystidia absent. Brachybasidioles present. Cheilocystidia mostly fusoid-ventricose with a fairly long neck; hyaline in KOH; thin-walled; to about 70 x 20 µ. Sphaeropedunculate elements also present on gill edge. Pileipellis hymeniform; setae reddish brown in KOH, aciculate, thick-walled, 100-250+ x 4-10 µ.

REFERENCES: (Fries, 1821) Örstadius & E. Larsson, 2008. (Smith, 1972; Kits van Waveren, 1977; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Moser, 1983; Hansen & Knudsen, 1992; Barron, 1999.) Herb. Kuo 10070301, 10290704.

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Parasola conopilus

Parasola conopilus

Parasola conopilus

Parasola conopilus

Parasola conopilus

Parasola conopilus

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Kuo, M. (2011, February). Parasola conopilus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: