Pluteus podospileus Sacc. & Cub.

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

Pluteus podospileus

With very few exceptions, Pluteus mushrooms (commonly referred to as the 'shields'), require microscopic examination in order to achieve confident identification to species level. Pluteus podospileus is no exceptioon.

This rare woodland mushroom of summer and autumn grows on the rotting wood of deciduous trees. The radially lined cap and pale pink gills are characteristics shared by a number of other small shield mushrooms.

Distribution

Widespread but quite a rare find in Britain and Ireland, recorded mostly in the south, this wood-rotting mushroom is occasionally found in most other parts of mainland Europe from Scandinavia down to the Iberian Peninsula but most particularly where beech trees are plentiful. Pluteus podospileus is also recorded from North America and Australia.

Taxonomic history

The basionym of this species was established when it was described in 1887 by Italian mycologists Pier Andrea Saccardo and Guiseppe Cuboni (1852 - 1920); they gave it the binomial scientific name Pluteus podospileus by which it is generally known today.

Synonyms of Pluteus podospileus include Leptonia seticeps G.F. Atk., Pluteus minutissimus Maire, Pluteus seticeps (G.F. Atk.) Singer, and Pluteus podospileus f. minutissimus (Maire) Vellinga.

Etymology

Pluteus, the genus name, comes from Latin and literally means a protective fence or screen - a shield for example!

The specific epithet podospileus comes from the Greek podo- meaning foot, and -spilos (σπίλος) meaning a spot, fleck or blemish; hence podospileus implies 'with a spotted foot' (and for foot read stem when referring to mushrooms, of course. I am grateful to Jukka K. Korpela for kindly contributing this information.

Identification guide

Cap of Pluteus podospileus

Cap

1.5 to 4cm in diameter, the cap is date brown to blackish brown, covered in minute pointed scales giving it felty appearance; convex at first and then flattened, sometimes slightly umbonate; translucently striate towards the margin. The cap flesh is whitish.

Stem

The stem is 2 to 4.5cm long and 1 to 3mm in diameter broadening slightly towards the base. Its background colour is whitish; longitudinally striate; covered with tiny brownish flocculose scales often more densely in the lower part of the stem. The stem flesh is greyish brown.

Pileipellis of Pluteus podospileus

Pileipellis

The pileipellis is made up of pyriform elements (pear-shaped and therefore appearing round when viewed from directly above but inverted tear-drop shaped when seen in side view) interspersed with rather fewer elongate, fusiform-to-cylindrical elements.

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Gills of Pluteus podospileus

Gills

The broad, crowded free gills are white at first and turn pink and later brownish-pink as the spores mature.

Cheilocystidia of Pluteus podospileus

Cheilocystidia

These are the cystidia that occur on the gill edges. In Pluteus podospileus they are clavate to fusiform.

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Spore of Pluteus podospileus

Spores

Subglobose to ovoid, smooth, 4-7 x 3.5-5µm.

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Spore print of Pluteus podospileus

Spore print

Pale pink.

Odour/taste

Pleasant but not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Nearly always solitary but occasionally in small groups on stumps and rotting fallen branches of broadleaf trees, particularly Beech and Ash, favouring damp sites and often in chalk-rich areas.

Season

Fruiting in Britain and Ireland during summer and autumn.

Similar species

Pluteus umbrosus is typically much larger; it has a radially-wrinkled velvety cap rather than a flat velvety cap.

Culinary Notes

Pluteus podospileus is not known to be edible and so should be avoided.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Orton, P.D. (1986). British Fungus Flora: Agarics and Boleti. Vol 4. Pluteaceae: Pluteus & Volvariella. Royal Botanic Garden: Edinburgh, Scotland.

Funga Nordica: 2nd edition 2012. Edited by Knudsen, H. & Vesterholt, J. ISBN 9788798396130

BMS List of 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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