Pholiota flammans (Batsch) P. Kumm. - Flaming Scalycap

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

Pholiota flammans - Flaming Scalycap

Quite rare and certainly a special find, the Flaming Scalycap must count as one of Nature’s masterpieces. Monochrome orange all over, and with its cap and lower stem covered in upturned fleecy scales, it is as shaggy as Pholiota squarrosa that grows on the bases of living trees; however, the Flaming Scalycap is found only on dead wood, and nearly always rotting conifer stumps. Only occasionally growing in tufts, these fabulous forest fungi more often fruit singly.

Distribution

An uncommon but far from rare species in Britain and Ireland, Pholiota flammans is also found in northern and central mainland Europe as well as in Asia and parts of North America.

Taxonomic history

This lovely mushroom was described scientifically in 1783 by German mycologist August Johann Georg Karl Batsch (1761 - 1802), who named it Agaricus flammans. (In the early days of fungal taxonomy most gilled mushrooms were placed in the genus Agaricus, which was later broken up into the many other genera that we use today.) It was left to the famous German mycologist Paul Kummer to transfer this species to the Pholiota genus in 1871, renaming it Pholiota flammans.

Synonyms of Pholiopta flammans include Agaricus flammans Batsch, and Dryophila flammans (Batsch) Quél.

Etymology

The generic name Pholiota means scaly, and the specific epithet flammans means flaming - now would you ever have guessed that?

Identification guide

Pholiota flammans - gills and stem

Cap

3 to 7cm across; bright golden yellow when young, maturing orange-yellow with upturned fleecy scales covering the entire cap surface; slimy beneath the scales; convex, becoming broadly convex but not flattening entirely.

Gills

Adnate; luminous orange-yellow.

Stem

4 to 8cm tall and 0.8 to 1.5cm dia.; orange; smooth above ring zone; covered in fibrous scales below.

 

Spores

Ellipsoidal to oblong, smooth, 4-5 x 2-3µm; with a distinct germ pore..

Spore print

Rusty brown.

Odour/taste

Odour not distinctive; taste very bitter.

Habitat & Ecological role

Most commonly on rotting conifer stumps, fallen trunks and dead roots, but also occasionally on dead wood of broadleaf trees, notably birches, Betula spp., and Beech, Fagus sylvatica.

Season

June to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Pholiota squarrosa has much larger, darker scales on its cap, and it grows most often on damaged areas of the lower trunks of living trees.

Culinary Notes

Despite their attractive appearance, these and other scalycaps (Pholiota species) are definitely not edible mushrooms, although in the past some members of this genus were considered to be so.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

British Mycological Society (2010). English Names for Fungi

Funga Nordica, Henning Knudsen and Jan Vesterholt, 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.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Richard Haynes.

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