The Families of Mushrooms and Toadstools Represented in the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


‘Ink-caps’, ‘Mottle-gills’.

Including Psathyrellaceae. At least in part = Agaricaceae? (see comments).

Morphology. The fruit-bodies producing basidia and basidiospores; ephemeral; solitary (mostly), or clustered (e/g/, abundantly so in Coprinellus disseminatus); differentiated into a stipe and pileus with the hymenium underneath the latter (the pileipellis forming a true epithelium); tiny to large; 0.1–5 cm across; (0.2–)0.5–12 cm high. The mature pileus strongly convex (or campanulate), or parasol-shaped to more or less flat or somewhat depressed. The top of the pileus conspicuously patterned with scales (often), or not patterned with scales; white or whitish, or white or whitish and grey, or white or whitish and blackish, or white or whitish and purplish brown, or white or whitish and dark brown, or buff, or straw-coloured, or light brown. The hymenium undergoing auto-digestion at maturity, with conspicuous liquefaction and darkening (commonly, conspicuously and characteristically becoming inky), or not auto-digesting. The pileipellis forming a continuous epithelium. The stipe bearing a ring but no volva, or with neither ring nor volva (or the ring soon disappearing). The hymenium borne on gills (often becoming deliquescent and inky, the lamellae thin, the trama not bilateral); not thickening. The hymenophore adnexed to decurrent. The hymenophoral trama not bilateral. The basidia ‘unmodified’. The basidiospores ballistosporic; fuscous, or brown-black, or blue-black (or purplish brown or black); smooth; with a germ pore.

The hyphal walls lamellate, with a thin, electron-dense outer layer and a relatively thick, electron-transparent inner layer. The hyphae monomitic. The generative hyphae inflated. Spaerocysts not occurring among the context hyphae.

Ecology. Saprophytic. Coprophilous (notably several Coprinus species), or neither coprophilous nor particularly associated with decaying keratinous materials. The fruit-bodies borne on the ground. Found in grassy places, in broad-leaved woodland, in mixed woodland, and in places modified by human activities.

British representation. Coprinellus, Coprinopsis, Coprinus, Lacrymaria, Macrometrula, Parasola, Psathyra, Psathyrella.

World representation. 764 species; genera 7. “Widespread”.

Classification. Basidiomycota; Basidiomycetes; Agaricomycetidae; Agaricales.

Comments. Some edible (notably immature Coprinus comatus, which is excellent; but beware taking C. atramentarius with alcohol). A relatively recent classificatory development, arising from molecular-phylogenetic work, is not accounted for here; viz., the transfer to Agaricaceae of the type species of the family, Coprinus comatus, and related deliquescent species, with suspicion that the remainder of the assemblage is not monophyletic. The 2006 BMS Web site lists only the genus Parasola (comprising a suite of former Coprinus species) under a new family, Psathyrellaceae. The species of Psathyrella are also referred to the latter individually, but the genus Psathyrella continues to be presented only under Coprinaceae! For references, see Kirk et al. (2001).

Illustrations. • Coprinopsis atramentaria, C. cinerea, C. picea; Coprinus comatus, C. sterquilinus (LH). • Coprinellus (4 spp.), Coprinopsis (2 spp.) and Coprinus (2 spp). • Coprinus atramentarius and C. comatus (Price). • Coprinus atramentarius (Berkeley). • Coprinus ephemeroides (Berkeley).

To view the illustrations with captions giving names in current use, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, distributions of character states within any set of taxa, source references, and other relevant material.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards. The families of mushrooms and toadstools represented in the British Isles. Version: 6th March 2015.’.