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Volvariella bombycina

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Pluteaceae > Volvariella . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This is a fairly widely distributed Volvariella species, found growing on hardwood logs and living hardwoods. It has a hairy, white cap that is not lined on the margin; in age the cap may become slightly yellowish in the center. The mature gills and the spore print are pink, and there is a whitish to brownish volva at the base of the stem.

By the strictest of interpretations Volvariella bombycina must be white, and it must possess very long (over 100 µ long) cystidia. By these lights, any number of North American "Volvariella bombycina" collections represent undescribed species or varieties. But if you are merely trying to put a name on a mushroom you found, I recommend you call it Volvariella bombycina if it has a fairly large cap (over 5 cm) with silky fibers and an unlined margin, and grows on wood--regardless of its colors. If "volvariology" interests you, however, see the comments below.


Ecology: Saprobic on the wood of hardwoods (documented on maples, magnolia, mango, beech, and American elm), either on dead trees or from the wounds of living trees; growing alone or somewhat gregariously; late spring, summer and fall; widely distributed in North America but more common east of the Mississippi.

Cap: 5-20 cm; oval becoming bell-shaped to broadly convex or nearly flat; whitish or tinged yellowish over the center in age; the margin not lined; dry; covered with silky hairs.

Gills: Free from the stem; whitish becoming pink; crowded.

Stem: 6-20 cm long; 1-2 cm thick; more or less equal, but usually tapering somewhat to apex; often curved in order to set the cap "straight" due growth on wood; dry; white; smooth; without a ring; the base encased in a thick, white to yellowish or brownish, sack-like volva.

Flesh: Thin, white.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative on cap surface.

Spore Print: Pink.

Microscopic Features: Spores 6.5-10.5 x 4.5-7 µ; elliptical; smooth. Cystidia 26-144 µ long; variously shaped. Pileipellis without gelatinized hyphae. Clamp connections absent.

REFERENCES: (Schaeffer, 1774) Singer, 1951. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1887; Kauffman, 1918; Shaffer, 1957; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Monoson, Methven & Sundberg, 1993; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo & Methven, 2010.) Herb. Kuo 06291001.

A yellow variety, Volvariella bombycina var. flaviceps, was described from Florida by Murrill in 1949. He called the cap "uniformly bright-flavous." Since the authority on Volvariella in North America, R. L. Shaffer, grants varietal status to Murrill's yellow version of Volvariella bombycina, one wonders what to do with the many brownish collections made on the continent. The rules are the rules, and the cap should be white if the name Volvariella bombycina is going to be used in a strictly mycological setting (actually, the volva should be white as well, though it may become yellowish or pinkish with age; field guides have snuck in the possibility of a brownish volva--a deviant subterfuge I have continued in the description above).

Brown or brownish collections may be referred to Volvariella bakeri if they have short cystidia (80 µ long or shorter) and are collected in tropical or subtropical areas, but north-temperature versions like the Illinois specimen featured in the bottom illustration (which I did not collect or study) or the mushroom I have called Volvariella sp. 01, from Quebec, may represent undescribed taxa.

Further Online Information:

Volvariella bombycina at Roger's Mushrooms


Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina

Volvariella bombycina
A brownish specimen growing on red oak in Illinois; see comments to the left.

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2004, November). Volvariella bombycina. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: