Lepista irina (Fr.) H.E. Bigelow - Flowery Blewit

Distribution - Taxonomic History - Etymology - Identification - Culinary Notes - Reference Sources

Lepista irina - Flowery Blewit

Taxonomy

Phylum: Basidiomycota

Class: Agaricomycetes

Order: Agaricales

Family: Tricholomataceae

An uncommon woodland species, the Flowery Blewit owes its common name to a distinctive flowery (not floury!) odour.

Distribution

This pretty blewit is found with deciduous trees; it is most common in Beech woodland in southern England, but it is increasingly rare further north.

Flowery Blewits are found in many parts of mainland Europe, often with Beech trees.

Taxonomic history

This mushroom was described in 1838 and named Agaricus nudus by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries. (Most gilled fungi were placed in the Agaricus genus in the early days of fungal taxonomy.) The Flowery Blewit acquired its currently-accepted scientific name Lepista irina via a 1959 publication by American mycologist Howard E Bigelow (1923 - 1987).

Synonyms of Lepista irina include Agaricus irinus Fr. Tricholoma irinum (Fr.) P. Kumm., and Rhodopaxillus irinus (Fr.) Métrod.

Etymology

Lepista is derived from Latin and means a wine pitcher or a goblet, and when fully mature the caps of Lepista species do indeed tend to become concave (sometimes referred to as being infundibuliform) like shallow chalices or goblets. The specific epithet irina means pertaining to irises (in particular to their scent).

Identification guide

Cap

5 to 10cm across; hemispherical then broadly convex with an undulating margin; smooth; pale beige, becoming pinkish brown towards the centre when moist, drying paler.

Gills

Adnate or sinuate; narrow; crowded; cream, turning buff-pink when mature.

Stem

4 to 9cm long and 0.5 to 1.0cm dia.; fibrillose; sometimes slightly swollen at base; pinkish brown; no ring.

 

Spores

Ellipsoidal, 7-9 x 3.5-4µm; ornamented with tiny spines.

Spore print

Creamy-white to pale greyish pink.

Odour/taste

Perfumed, like flowers (irises and violets, in particular).

Habitat

In deciduous woodland - in Britain, mainly in beechwoods on calcareous soil.

Season

July to November in Britain.

Similar species

Lepista nuda, the Wood Blewit, occurs in similar habitats; it is a more common species and has a violet-tinged cap.

Culinary notes

Although generally considered edible (but inferior to Wood Blewits and Field Blewits), the Flowery Blewit can upset some stomachs. Flowery Blewits must be cooked; never eat them raw. Edible blewits are very good if sauteed and served with pale meat such as veal, pork or chicken; they are also fine with cheese, rice and pasta dishes. (A minority of people find even thoroughly cooked blewits of any type indigestible.) In Britain and Ireland this mushroom is uncommon to rare and so many people consider that its collection for the pot is inappropriate.

Reference Sources

Pat O'Reilly, Fascinated by Fungi, 2011.

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.