Entoloma vernum S Lundell

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

Entoloma vernum, an early season pinkgill

The pinkgill mushrooms tend to appear mainly in summer and autumn, with just a few species putting in an earlier appearance. Entoloma vernum is one of the earliest members of its genus to begin producing fruitbodies; however, it is not edible and so of great interest to forayers (because of its rarity) but very little to foragers.

Look out for Entoloma vernum on moss-rich grassy banks, where it often occurs beside spring wildflowers such as Dog Violets (see below).

Distribution

This pointy-capped pinkgill is an uncommon to rare find in Britain, being reported from scattered sites across England and Scotland; it occurs also throughout much of mainland Europe, where it is also generally uncommon or in many places quite a rare sight.

Taxonomic history

This inconspicuous, hygrophanous grassland mushroom was first described scientifically in 1937 by Seth Lundell (1892 - 1966), a distinguished fungal taxonomist at Uppsala University in Sweden, who established its basionym when he gave it the species name Entoloma vernum. Despite later spending quite some time in the genus Nolonea, a grouping which has now been subsumed into the genus Entoloma, Lundell's original name remains the generally accepted binomial name of this pinkgill.

Synonyms of Entoloma vernum include Rhodophyllus cucullatus J. Favre, Nolanea cucullata (J. Favre) P. D. Orton, and Nolanea verna (S. Lundell) Kotl. & Pouzar.

Etymology

The generic name Entoloma comes from 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 vernum means of springtime, and that is when this mushroom first appears.

Identification guide

Unbonate cap of Entoloma vernum

Cap

1.5 to 6cm across, conical with an inturned margin, becoming umbonately convex or flattening with age but always retaining an umbo; surface smooth; hygrophanous, dark brown when moist becoming paler (see left) from the rim as it dries out; margin translucently striate.

Entoloma papillatum, gills and stem

Gills

Moderately spaced, emarginate and almost free; greyish brown at first, maturing brownish pink.

Stem

3 to 9cm long and 3 to 12mm diameter, striately fibrous and often slightly twisted axially, cylindrical; dark brown; no stem ring.

Spores of Entoloma vernum

Spores

Mostly five- to seven-angled (pentagonal to heptagonal) in side view; 8-12 x 7-9μm.

Spore print

Pink.

Odour/taste

Slightly mealy (farinaceous) but not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic in unimproved grassland, sometimes in the open but often under conifers or with birches and occasionally also on heathland.

Season

Fruiting from late February until October in Britain and Ireland. The main season in England is April to July, but usually a few weeks later in Scotland.

Similar species

There are several brownish pinkgill mushrooms with umbonate caps, and even Entoloma experts (very rare creatures) have to resort to microscopic examination in order to separate them with confidence.

Entoloma vernum, Wales, May 2014

Culinary Notes

Entoloma vernum is reported to be inedible. (It is in any case hard to find and rather insubstantial.) Note also that some Entoloma species with which particularly pale forms of Entoloma vernum could be confused are known to be very seriously poisonous.

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.

Acknowledgement

We are grateful to David Kelly for two of the pictures shown on this page, the accuracy of which have been independently verified by microscopic examination of samples of gill and cap tissue.

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