Entoloma porphyrophaeum (Fr.) P. Karst. - Lilac Pinkgill

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Entolomataceae

Entoloma porphyrophaeum - Lilac Pinkgill

This tall entoloma is a rather uncommon grassland species and quite variable in colouring; however, the purplish hue is usually evident against a background that ranges from buff through various shades of brown.

One of the endearing traits of the largish grassland pinkgill is the longevity of its fruitbodies. These mushrooms can remain standing for several weeks if not eaten by slugs or knocked over by the feet of people like me who are fascinated by such fungi.

Entoloma porphyrophaeus, young and mature specimens

Distribution

The Silky Pinkgill is a common find in unimproved grassland in northern Britain and an occasional find in southern Britain and Ireland; it occurs also throughout most of northern and central mainland Europe and in many parts of Asia.

Taxonomic history

This species was described scientifically in 1857 by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries, who gave it the binomial name Agaricus porphyrophaeus. (At that time most gilled fungi were initially placed in a gigantic Agaricus genus, which has since been slimmed down with most of its contents being transferred to other newer genera.)

The currently-accepted scientific name dates from 1879, when Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten (1834 - 1917) transferred this species to the genus Entoloma.

Synonyms of Entoloma porphyrophaeum include Agaricus porphyrophaeus Fr., Rhodophyllus porphyrophaeus (Fr.) J. E. Lange, and Trichopilus porphyrophaeus (Fr.) P. D. Orton.

Etymology

The generic name Entoloma is derived from the ancient Greek words entos, meaning inner, and lóma, meaning a fringe or a hem. It is a reference to the inrolled margins of many of the mushrooms in this genus.

The specific epithet porphyrophaeum probably comes in part from the Greek porphyry, which is a purple igneous rock; and the suffix phaeum means dusky. Dusky purple is a fair description of some specimens of this fascinating fungus, but the English common name Lilac Pinkgill seems more appropriate for paler examples.

Identification guide

Entoloma porphyrophaeum, an aged cap

Cap

With a distinct umbo, the radially-fibrillose cap is purplish-brown and typically 5 to 8cm in diameter (and hence usually much larger than most other common Entoloma species.

Gills of Entoloma porphyrophaeum

Gills

Free or emarginate; white at first, becoming brownish pink at maturity.

Cheilocystidium of Entoloma porphyrophaeum

Cheilocystidia

20-60 x 7-20µm, lageniform Flask-shaped) to lecythiform (shaped like a bowling pin), often distinctly capitate.

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Spores of Entoloma porphyrophaeum

Spores

Very irregular, many-angled, often with nodular protrusions; 8-12 x 6-8μm.

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Spore print

Pale pink.

Stem

Concolorous with cap or slightly paler, fibrous.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Singly or in small groups or in moist grassland areas, often in upland areas.

Season

Summer and autumn.

Similar species

There are several entolomas of similar size and colour; the fibrous cap helps to distinguish Entoloma porphyrophaeum.

Culinary Notes

Entoloma porphyrophaeum is reported to be edible, althought It is also thin-fleshed and insubstantial to be worth collecting. There is also a risk of confusing this species with some of the pinkgills that are known to be seriously tocix or even deadly poisonous - for example the Livid Pinkgill Entoloma sinuatum.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Knudsen H., Vesterholt J. (eds) Funga Nordica: agaricoid, boletoid and cyphelloid genera - Nordsvamp, 2008

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.

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