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Marasmius wynneae (= Marasmius wynnei) Berk. & Broome - Pearly Parachute

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

Marasmius wynneae, Pearly Parachute

The two-tone stem of the Pearly Parchute is a helpful clue to its identity, but this little woodland mushroom needs more detailed study before you can be confident when separating it from the many other pale parachute species.

Distribution

In Britain and Ireland the Pearly Parachute is widespread and fairly common, as it is throughout most of mainland Europe from Scandinavia down to Spain, and also in parts of North America.

Marasmius wynneae, England

This and other members of the genus Marasmius are sometimes referred to as 'resurrection mushrooms' - they can dry out completely in hot sunny weather and yet, when eventually rain soaks them, they reflate and regain their characteristic shape and colour. Not only do the reconstituted mushrooms look like fresh young fruitbodies but they are also able to create new cells and to produce new spores. These Lazarus-like characteristics are the result of Marasmius fungi containing a high concentration of the sugar trehalose, which prevents catastrophic cell damage when the fruitbodies become desiccated.

Taxonomic history

This saprobic fungus was first described validly in scientific literature in 1859 by the English mycologists Miles Berkley and Christopher Broome, who gave it the scientific name Marasmius wynnei, since amended to Marasmius wynneae.

Synonyms of Marasmius wynneae include Agaricus globularis Weinm., Marasmius globularis (Weinm.) Fr., Collybia globularis (Weinm.) P. Karst.Marasmius archyropus var. suaveolens Rea, and Marasmius carpathicus Kalchbr.

Etymology

The genus name Marasmius comes from the Greek word marasmos, meaning 'drying out'. Elias Magnus Fries, who separated the Marasmius genus from the similar white-spored Collybia fungi, used as a key differentiating factor the ability of Marasmius mushrooms to recover if rehydrated after drying out. Fries called this characteristic 'marescence'.

The original collection by Berkeley and Broome for the description of this mushroom was made at the Coed Coch estate, near Dolwen in Denbighshire, North Wales UK, and the specific epithet is in honour of Mrs. Wynne (or Mrs. Lloyd Wynne?) who owned the estate with her husband and doubtless had an interest in mycology. I am grateful to Richard Daniel for kindly bringing this etymological information to my attention.

Identification guide

Cap of Marasmius wynneae

Cap

2 to 5cm across; initially hemispherical then convex, flattening with a broad umbo; hygrophanous, greyish, drying to cream buff; margin appears striate when wet.

Gills of Marasmius wynneae

Gills

Adnexed or free; distant; white at first, becoming cream sometimes tinged violet.

Stem of Marasmius wynneae

Stem

Cylindrical, 3 - 10cm long and 2 - 5mm diameter; buff near the apex, progressively browner towards a white-powdered base. The stem flesh is whitish at the apex and browner and sometimes black towards the base.

Spores of Marasmius wynneae

Spores

Ellipsoidal to pip-shaped, smooth, 5-7 x 3-3.5μm; inamyloid.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on soil and leaf litter in deciduous woodland and on woodland edges, most commonly under beeches (Fagus spp.) but also quite often with oaks (Quercus) and Hazel (Corylus).

Season

Mainly seen from August to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Marasmius oreades, a common grassland mushroom, has a tan or buff cap and a stem concolorous with the cap

Culinary notes

This insubstantial little mushroom is not generally considered edible.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Berkeley & Broom in Prideaux John Selby et al, The Annals and Magazine of Natural History Vol III - Third Series p358; Taylor & Francis, London.(1859)

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.

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