Mycena haematopus (Pers.) P. Kumm. - Burgundydrop Bonnet

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

Mycena haematopus - Burgundydrop Bonnet

There are several Mycena species with pinkish caps, but what makes this one rather special is the dark red ‘blood’ that exudes from its cut flesh. The Burgundydrop Bonnet grows in fused tufts on dead hardwood stumps and trunks - oaks in particular - and only very occasionally on conifer stumps. The Burgundydrop Bonnet has been referred to in the past by several other common names including the Bleeding Bellcap, Bleeding Mycena, Bleeding Fairy Helmet and (in the USA) the Blood-foot Mushroom.

A similar but much smaller and more slender species, Mycena sanguinolenta, the Bleeding Bonnet, grows on forest-floor litter mainly under conifers.

Distribution

This wood-rotting mushroom is common throughout Britain and Ireland; it is also found throughout most of mainland Europe, much of Asia, and in many parts of North America.

Mycena haematopus with deep burgundy-red caps

Cap colour is a poor guide to the identification of Mycena species, and the Burgundydrop Bonnet in particular. While some dry specimens of this wood-rotting fungus may have very pale caps, others are much more colourful, as the splendid specimens shown on the left testify. This photograph was taken by Colin Griffiths, in Jersey, to whom we are grateful for permission to show it here.

Taxonomic history

This species was described in 1799 by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, who called it Agaricus haematopus - a name subsequently sanctioned by Elias Magnus Fries in 1821; it was moved to the new genus Mycena by Paul Kummer in 1871.

Mycena haematopus, Cambridgeshire, UK

Synonyms of Mycena haematopus include Agaricus haematopus Pers., Galactopus haematopus (Pers.) Earle, and Mycena haematopus var. marginata J. E. Lange.

Etymology

The specific epithet haematopus comes from ancient Greek words haemato-, which means blood, and -pus, meaning foot (or leg) - a reference to the blood-like liquid which exudes from cut or broken stems.

Above: These Burgundy-drop Bonnets were seen fruiting on the end of a log in Cambridgeshire, England during the 2013 British Mycological Society's Autumn Foray. It is always worth searching wood piles for fungi, and in particular logs piled up in damp woodland. In the open, most of the fungi tend to emerge on the northern or eastern side rather on the south and west where the afternoon sun dries the timber.

Identification guide

Cap of Mycena haematopus

Cap

2 to 4cm across at maturity, the caps of the Burgundyrdop Bonnet are initially conical, becoming bell shaped with a slight umbo; silky smooth; striate almost to centre when moist; usually pinkish-brown, sometimes reddish-brown, drying to pale greyish-pink.

Gills and stem of Mycena haematopus

Gills

Adnate or adnexed; white turning pale pink, the gills of Mycena haematopus are often darker at the edges, but not always so.

Cut stem of Mycena haematopus

Stem

4 to 7cm long and 2 to 3mm in diameter, the stems of Mycena haematopus are pinkish-brown; no ring. Blood-red liquid oozes from cuts.

Spores of Mycena haematopus

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 8-11 x 5-7µm; amyloid.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on trunks and stumps and on fallen wood of deciduous broadleaf trees, particularly oaks, in well-shaded and damp locations; sometimes also on diseased parts of living trees. These lovely bonnet fungi are often found growing in tufts from cracks in the tough remains of large stumps and fallen trunks long after early-colonising fungi have consumed the bark and whatl they can of the softer cellulose tissues.

Season

June to November in Britain and Ireland.

Occurrence

Fairly common in most parts of Britain and Ireland, the Burgundydrop Bonnet also occurs throughout mainland Europe and in many parts of North America. 

Similar species

Mycena polygramma has grooved stems.

Mycena arcangeliana is distinguished by its iodine-like odour.

Culinary Notes

These little mushrooms are reported in some field guides to be edible but of poor quality; however, the flesh is very thin and insubstantial.

Mycena haematopus - Burgundydrop Bonnet, France

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Penny Cullington, (Oct. 2013). British Mycenas - Brief Descriptions.

Giovanni Robich, (2003). Mycena d'Europa; Associazione Micologica Bresadola ; Vicenza : Fondazione Centro Studi Micologici.

British Mycological Society. 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 Simon Harding and David Kelly.

Top of page...


Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd edn, hardback

If you have found this information helpful, we are sure you would also find our book Fascinated by Fungi by Pat O'Reilly very useful. Author-signed hardback copies at a special discount price are available here...

Other nature books from First Nature...