Volvariella gloiocephala (DC.) Boekhout & Enderle - Stubble Rosegill

Distribution - Taxonomic History - Etymology - Identification - Culinary Notes - Reference Sources

Volvariella gloiocephala - Stubble Rosegill

Taxonomy

Phylum: Basidiomycota

Class: Agaricomycetes

Order: Agaricales

Family: Pluteaceae

Amanita fungi are not the only ones that have a volva at the stem base; mushrooms in the genus Volvariella do so as well. Volvariella gloiocephala (syn. Volvariella speciosa) does indeed grow in fields where crops have been harvested to leave stubble (and it doesn’t have to be cereal crops; I have seen cleared cabbage fields dotted with hundreds of these large white mushrooms). Grassy roadside verges and permanent pastures are also places where this handsome mushroom can appear.

Stubble Rosegills, Volvariella gloiocephala - a roadside group

Distribution

The Stubble Rosegill is fairly common in Britain and Ireland, where it is most often seen in fields that have been harvested of a grain crop (or occasionally some other food crop such as cabbages). This mushroom is even more widespread and abundant in southern mainland Europe, often recurring in the same grassy areas for many years.

Taxonomic history

When Swiss mycologist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle described this mushroom in 1815 he called it Agaricus gloiocephalus. (Most gilled fungi were initially placed in a giant Agaricus genus, now redistributed to many other genera.) Its currently-accepted scientific name dates from 1986, when mycologists Teun Boekhout and Manfred Enderle gave it the name Volvariella gloiocephala.

Many older field guides use the name Volvaria speciosa when referring to this species, while some authorities now refer to it as Volvopluteus gloiocephalus (DC.) Vizzini, Contu & Justo (2011), with this being the type species of the newly created genus Volvopluteus.

Synonyms of Volvariella gloiocephala include Agaricus gloiocephalus DC., Amanita speciosa Fr., Agaricus speciosus (Fr.) Fr., Volvaria speciosa (Fr.) P. Kumm., Volvaria gloiocephala (DC.) Gillet, Volvaria speciosa var. gloiocephala (DC.) R. Heim, Volvariella speciosa (Fr.) Singer, Volvariella speciosa var. gloiocephala (DC.) Singer, and Volvariella speciosa f. gloiocephala (DC.) Courtec.

Etymology

Volvariella, the genus name, is a reference to the volva formed around the stem base by the remnants of the membranous universal veil which covers emerging fruitbodies. The specific epithet gloiocephala comes from the Greek words gloio, meaning glue or glutinous substance, and cephalus, meaning head. Hence gloiocephalus means with a sticky head - a reference to the viscid nature of the surface of caps of the Stubble Rosegill.

Identification guide

Cap of Volvariella gloiocephala

Cap

8 to 14cm across; initially oval becoming convex but not often flattening completely; white, often with a greyish-brown centre, becoming cream and eventually ochre; sticky when moist, silkily smooth when dry.

Gills of Volvariella gloiocephala

Gills

Free; crowded; white at first, becoming pink.

Stem and volva of Volvariella gloiocephala

Stem

10 to 15cm long and 1 to 1.5cm dia.; white; tapering towards apex; no ring. There is a persistent fleshy bag-like volva (left) at the base.

Spores of Volvariella gloiocephala, Stubble Rosegill

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 13-18 x 8-10µm.

Spore print

Pink.

Odour/taste

Pleasant and mild but not distinctive.

Habitat

Saprotrophic in nutrient-rich damp permanent pasture, roadside grassland and stubble fields; occasionally also in fields where brassicas have been harvested.

Season

July to November in Britain and Ireland; appearing through until early March in some southern European countries including Spain and Portugal.

Similar species

Volvariella bombycina has a very silky (almost hairy) cap and a volva; it grows on damaged hardwood trees and on their dead trunks and large branches.

Amanita virosa has a stem ring and occurs in woodland habitats.

Culinary Notes

The Stubble Rosegill is generally regarded as an edible mushroom although not highly rated. Because this mushroom can easily be confused with deadly Amanita species (such as Deathcap and Destroying Angel) which also have stem-base volvas and pale caps, great care is essential to ensure that there is absolutely no doubt at all about identification. Inexperienced mushroom gatherers should avoid gathering any fungi that have volvas.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2011

Alfredo Justo, Andrew M. Minnis, Stefano Ghignone, Nelson Menolli Jr., Marina Capelari, Olivia Rodríguez, Ekaterina Malysheva, Marco Contu, Alfredo Vizzini (2011). 'Species recognition in Pluteus and Volvopluteus (Pluteaceae, Agaricales): morphology, geography and phylogeny'. Mycological Progress 10 (4): 453–479.

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

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.