Marasmius hudsonii (Pers.) Fr. - Holly Parachute

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

Marasmius hudsonii - Holly Parachute, New Forest

Marasmius hudsonii is a rare find, but that may well be due to its unusual habitat of moist dead holly leaves, its diminutive size – usually no more than 5mm in cap diameter and often less than half that size - together with its solitary rather than gregarius occurrence. You can find these distinctive little mushrooms in hedgerows as well as in woodlands.

Marasmius hudsonii - Holly Parachute, England

Distribution

Widespread throughout Britain and Ireland but only recorded very occasionally, Marasmius hudsonii occurs in many parts of mainland Europe, where it is a rare find. The Holly Parachute is found also in some parts of North America.

Taxonomic history

This mushroom was described in 1801 by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, who named it Agaricus hudsonii. The Collared Parachute was redescribed by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries in his Epicrisis Systematis Mycologici (1838) at which time he transferred this little mushroom to the Marasmius genus.

Synonyms of Marasmius hudsonii include Agaricus pilosus Huds., Agaricus hudsonii Pers., Mycena hudsonii (Pers.) Gray and Androsaceus hudsonii (Pers.) Pat.

Etymology

The genus name Marasmius comes from the Greek word marasmos, meaning 'drying out'. Elias Magnus Fries, who separated the Marasmius genus from the similar white-spored Collybia fungi, used as a key differentiating factor the ability of Marasmius mushrooms to recover if rehydrated after drying out. Fries called this drought survival characteristic 'marescence'.

The specific epithet hudsonii honours English naturalist William Hudson (1730 - 1793).

Identification guide

Cap of Marasmius hudsonii - Holly Parachute

Cap

Pale pinkish cream and 2-6mm in diameter, the caps of Marasmius hudsonii are convex initially, flattening at maturity. The upper surface is covered in erect bristle-like red-brown hairs (setae).

Cap setae

Setae

Abundant on cap and stem, typically 400µm long and 10µm diameter at the base, tapering to a sharp point.

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Gills of Marasmius hudsonii - Holly Parachute

Gills

The very distant gills of the Holly Parachute are often veil-like or occasionlly rudimentary or even absent altogether; pinkish-white turning ochre when old.

Stem

The upper stem is concolorous with cap, becoming darker brown towards the base; 0.3 to 0.5mm diameter and 1 to 4.5cm long, sparsely covered in erect red-brown hairs. There is no stem ring.

Spores of Marasmius hudsonii

Spores

Ellipsoidal to pip-shaped, smooth, 8-13 x 4-6.5μm; hyaline.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on dead leaves of Ilex (holly) species.

Season

Summer and autumn in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

The habitat (holly leaves) and conspicuous red-brown hairs on cap and stem of this tiny mushroom mean that it cannot easily be mistaken for any other species.

Culinary Notes

The Holly Parachute mushroom is so diminutive and insubstantial that any attempt to make even a mushroom morsel never mind a meal would be quite ludicrous.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

British Mycological Society (2010). English Names for Fungi

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

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by David Kelly.

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