Saturday, 6 January 2018

Misidentifying fungi in Andalusia

Fungus observations from SPAIN

Didn't take my fungus identification paraphernalia on our recent trip to Andalusia as we were loaded up with kit to look for Iberian Lynx. But I couldn't resist stopping to take a look at these pale beauties popping up in the dehesa around Doñana, south west of Seville.

I had a good look at them, and hoped the features I'd observed would be enough to put a name to them once I got home.

I took this photo in the long, low, late-afternoon light and admired the silky-white stem.

I noted that the gills were 'free' not attached to the stem. They were white with a pink-ish tinge to them, exaggerated by the light.

The caps had a grey-ish hue. Their smooth surfaces covered in specks of sand.

They were popping up all over the place as we walked through the Dehesa de Abajo and I thought they might be some exotic mediterranean species.

I struggled to get them to match anything in my books when I got home, so I asked for help on the British Mycological Society Facebook page. I got a quick response from Fermat Gundogdu who suggested an identification of Stubble Rosegill Volvopluteus gloiocephalus.

But this species has a volva. When I saw the white gills of this mushroom, I wondered if it might be an Amanita species; I had quickly checked for a volva and not seen one. But Fermat's suggestion prompted me to look again. I realised it did have a thin, bag-like volva.

So it is Stubble Rosegill Volvopluteus gloiocephalus.

I felt like I should have known this as I've come across this species before, at Flatford Mill (here). But there it was growing in rank grassland and didn't look half as elegant as these beauties. Perhaps mushrooms are like wine: better on holiday.

Then again, the First Nature website notes that:
"The Stubble Rosegill is fairly common in Britain and Ireland, where it is most often seen in fields that have been harvested of a grain crop (or occasionally some other food crop such as cabbages). This mushroom is even more widespread and abundant in southern mainland Europe, often recurring in the same grassy areas for many years."
This is perhaps one of those situations where the English or "common" name risks leading one astray, as it suggests an association with stubble-fields which doesn't necessarily apply across its range. In contrast, the scientific name Volvopluteus gloiocephalus – would tell you that it's related to the pink-spored Pluteus, has a volva, and a sticky head. Which perhaps explains why they've got loads of sand stuck to them.

While I'm here, who wants to see my Iberian Lynx photo?

Very lucky to see this pair, down the telescope, after 20 hours of looking. Sierra de Andújar, Spain.

For the record
Date: 3 January 2018
Location: Dehesa de Abajo, Doñana, Spain

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