Cheilymenia granulata (Bull.) J. Moravec

Phylum: Ascomycota - Class: Pezizomycetes - Order: Pezizales - Family: Pyronemataceae

Cheilymenia granulata

Cow-pats and bedding from cow sheds are home to a host of macro and micro fungi, but one of the early colonisers of cow-pats, moving in as soon as there is a surface crust, is Coprobia granulata. This tiny disc-like ascomycete fungus belongs to the order Pezizales. (It is inedible.)

Although individually tiny, it is as if these coprophilous disc fungi find safety in numbers - often they swarm over dung in their hundreds or sometimes even in their thousands.

A mass of Cheilymenia granulata fruitbodies

Distribution

This colourful ascomycete is a very common sight on animal dung throughout Britain and Ireland as well as in all other European countries.

Taxonomic history

Originally described as Peziza granulata by Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard in 1790, this species was transferred top the genus Cheilymenia in 1990 by the Czech mycologist Jiří Moravec (born 1943).

Synonyms of Cheilymenia granulata include Peziza granulata Bull., Ascobolus granulatus (Bull.) Fuckel, Ascophanus granulatus (Bull.) Speg., and Coprobia granulata (Bull.) Boud.

Etymology

The specific epithet granulata means covered in granules, as if you look closely you will see that the fertile surface of these little fungi are.

The key to identifying to species level the various species of Cheilymenia and Scutellinia (the other main group of eyelash-fringed disc fungi) of which there are close on 50 known in Britain and Ireland, is by microscopic examination of asci, spores and any hairs or 'lashes' that cover the infertile surface.

Identification guide

Close-up of Cheilymenia granulata

Fruitbody

Flat or shallowly concave discs, 1 to 2mm across and 0.5 to 1.5mm tall; orange; sessile; usually in groups and sometimes in huge swarms on cow-pats. The fertile (upper) surface is bright orange, smooth in the centre but granular near the rim.

Asci of Cheilymenia granulata

Ascii

150-220 x 10-15µm, with eight spores per ascus.

Spore of Cheilymenia granulata

Spores

Ellipsoidal, 16-19 x 10-12.5µm.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Reportedly not distinctive - although who would want to try tasting such offerings?

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on all kinds of herbivore dung, but especially cow-pats.

Season

May to early November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Several other ascomycetous disc fungi also colonise animal dung. Few can be identified from macroscopic features alone, and so microscopic examination of asci, spores and other cell structures is usually necessary.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Dennis, R.W.G. (1981). British Ascomycetes; Lubrecht & Cramer; ISBN: 3768205525.

Breitenbach, J. & Kränzlin, F. (1984). Fungi of Switzerland. Volume 1: Ascomycetes. Verlag Mykologia: Luzern, Switzerland.

Medardi, G. (2006). Ascomiceti d'Italia. Centro Studi Micologici: Trento.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

 

Acknowledgements

Cheilymenia granulata - large group on dung

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by David Kelly.

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