Galerina pumila (Pers.) Singer - Dwarf Bell

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

Galerina pumila

Galerina pumila with its widely-spaced gills and tiny orange caps, is an uncommon but welcome sight in wet mossy places. This is one of a small group of bright orange Galerina species, most of which seem unable to survive without mosses.

Identifying with certainty the many small Galerina and Mycena mushrooms that appear on mossy bogs, damp lawns and wet woodland edges requires microscopic examination (preferably assisted by chemical testing!).

Galerina pumila, Wales

Distribution

Dwarf Bell Galerina pumila is uncommon in Britain and Ireland where it occurs on sphagnum mosses mainly in acidic boggy areas such as pond margins and peat bogs. This species is also recorded throughout most of central and northern mainland Europe.

Taxonomic history

This little mushrooms was described in 1801 by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, who called it Agaricus pumilus. (In the early days of fungal taxonomy most gilled fungi were initially placed in a giant Agaricus genus, now largely redistributed across many other genera.)

It was the German-born American mycologist Rolf Singer who in 1961 transferred this species to the genus Galerina, thereby establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Galerina pumila.

Synonyms of Galerina pumila include Agaricus pumilus Pers., Agaricus mycenopsis Fr., Galera mycenopsis (Fr.) Quél., Pholiota pumila (Pers.) Gillet, and Galerina mycenopsis (Fr.) Kühner.

Etymology

Galerina, the generic name, means 'like a helmet', while the specific epithet pumila means dwarf or low growing.

Toxicity

Galerina pumila is inedible or suspect. In view of the fact that other fungi in this genus are known to be toxic toadstools - for example Galerina marginata contains deadly poisonous amatoxins which are the same kinds of substances that make Amanita phalloides, the Death Cap, so dangerous - this species should not be collected for eating. It is unlikely that anyone would want to hunt for such insubstantial and uncommon little fungi for food, but they could easily be gathered by mistake when collecting Marasmius oreades (Fairy Ring Champignons) which often grow in mossy grasslands. This further emphasises the importance of checking every single specimen that is gathered to eat.

Identification guide

Caps of Galerina pumila

Cap

Initially conoical umbonate, expanding to become convex umbonate, striate almost to the centre; rusty brown, paler yellow-brown at the margin; 8 to 20mm diameter when fully expanded. White veil fragments sometimes visible at the margins of immature caps.

Gills of Galerina pumila

Gills

Moderately to widely spaced; pale yellow, becoming rusty yellow-brown.

Stem

1 to 3mm in diameter and 2 to 8cm tall; cylindrical and hollow, yellow-brown; slightly rough due to attached veil fragmants, especially near the top of the stem; no stem ring.

Cheilocystidia of Galerina pumila

Basidia

Four-spored.

Cheilocystidia

Sub-cylindrical (long and narrow) often flexuose, with variably inflated tips.

Spores of Galerina pumila

Spores

Ellipsoidal to amygdaloid (almond shaped), almost perfectly smooth, 10-13.5 x 5-7μm.

Spore print

Fulvous to pale ochre-beige.

Odour/taste

Not significant.

Habitat & Ecological role

In small groups or singly, often among lichens; growing on bryophytes including mosses of the genera Hylocomium, Dicranum, Ptilidium, Polytrichum and Racomitrium, in acidic woodlands, heathland and mossy grassland.

Season

Autumn.

Similar species

Kuehneromyces mutabilis, a much larger mushroom, is similar in colour range but has a pale cap centre and a darker margin; it does not grow on bryophytes but is confined to mainly hardwood substrates.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

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

Several of the pictures on this page are shown with the kind permission of David Kelly.

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