Tubaria dispersa (Pers.) Singer - Hawthorn Twiglet

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

Hawthorn Twiglet Tubaria dispersa

This undistinguished little mushroom betrays its identity primarily by its habitat: under hawthorn trees, bushes and hedgerows. The gregarious Hawthorn Twiglet almost invariably fruits in large and often densely-packed colonies.

Although said to emerge from the decaying seeds (called haws) of various kinds of hawthorns, the stems of these little twiglets appear to be growing in soil - probably because by the time the fruitbodies appear the haws have become humus.

Distribution

Tubaria dispersa is a common and widespread fungus throughout Britain and Ireland. These little toadstools are found in most parts of northern and central mainland Europe, wherever hawthorns grow.

Tubaria dispersa, Cambridgeshire UK

Taxonomic history

In 1828 Christiaan Hendrik Persoon described this little mushroom and gave it the scientific name Agaricus dispersus (at a time when gilled fungi were generally placed into the genus Agaricus, since largely redistributed across many other newer genera).

It was German-American mycologist Rolf Singer who, in 1962, transferred this species to the genus Tubaria, thereby establishing its currently-accepted scientific (binomial) name as Tubaria dispersa.

Synonyms of Tubaria dispersa include Agaricus dispersus Pers., Agaricus autochthonus Berk. & Broome, Naucoria sobria var. dispersa (Pers.) Sacc., Tubaria autochthona (Berk. & Broome) Sacc., and Naucoria autochthona (Berk. & Broome) Kühner & Romagn.

Etymology

Tubaria is a small genus of about 20 species worldwide. The genus name may refer to a pipeline or connection, while the specific epithet dispersa is derived from the Latin adjective dispersus meaning dispersed or scattered.

Identification guide

Cap of Tubaria dispersa

Cap

The smooth cap, initially convex and then flattened and eventually slightly centrally depressed, has a slightly striate marin and ranges from 0.5–2cm in diameter. Its surface is minutely felty and coloured ochre-buff, and the cap flesh is whitish..

Gills of Tubaria dispersa

Gills

The crowded, adnexed or adnate gills start off pale lemon and develop an ochraceous tinge as the spores mature.

Stem

1.5-3cm long and 1-2mm in diameter, white or very pale ochre, tapering towards the base; often wavy. The stem flesh is whitish.

Cheilocystidia of Tubaria dispersa

Cheilocystidia

Simple, cylindrical to clavate, sometimes capitate, 20-35 x 4-10μm.

Spores of Tubaria dispersa, Hawthorn Twiglet

Spores

Ellipsoidal, surface minutely roughened, 4.5-7.5 x 2.5-5µm.

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Spore print

Olivaceous.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Beneath hawthorn trees and bushes.

Season

Late summer and autumn in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Tubaria conspersa, the Felted Twiglet, has a finely scaly cap and larger spores.

The white variety of Inocybe geophylla is similar but paler.

Tubaria dispersa, Cambridgeshire UK

Culinary Notes

This little mushroom is generally considered inedible.

Reference Sources

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.

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