The Families of Mushrooms and Toadstools Represented in the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


‘False Morels’.

Morphology. The fruit-bodies producing asci and ascospores; persistent; cupulate (or saucer-shaped or saddle-shaped, folded), or cupulate and erect-elongate, unbranched, or tuberous to globose (then hypogeal); solitary; stipitate; small to large; (1–)2–6 cm across; (1–)2–10 cm high; yellowish-brown, or light brown, or reddish-brown, or dark brown, or grey, or blackish; with a faintly sweetish or pleasant aroma (e.g., in Hydnotrya tulasnei), or with no particular odour other than an ordinary fungoid one; apothecial, or cleistothecial; producing asci and spores on an exposed hymenium, or tuberous or globose and subterranean, the asci and spores produced from an enclosed hymenium; ascus-bearing hymenial layer (when epigeal) everted (often irregularly so, or convoluted). The asci cylindrical; asci operculate; without obvious apical thickening; thin walled (operculate, or indehiscent in cleistothecial forms). The walls of the asci not staining blue with iodine. The ascospores smooth (lacking appendages); hyaline, or brown; simple; tetranucleate; without appendages; without a mucilaginous sheath.

The hyphae without clamp connections. The hyphal walls lamellate, double layered, with both layers electron dense.

Ecology. The fruit-bodies subterranean, or not subterranean; when epigeal, borne on the ground. Found in grassy places, in heathland, in coniferous woodland, in broad-leaved woodland, and in mixed woodland.

British representation. 31 species in Britain; Balsamia, Gyrocratera, Helvella, Hydnotrya.

World representation. 68 species; genera 9. North temperate.

Classification. Ascomycota; Ascomycetes; Pezizomycetidae; Pezizales.

Comments. Edible to poisonous (sometimes eaten, but may cause indigestion, and are best avoided). ‘Operculate Discomycetes’.

Illustrations. • Helvella (6 spp.), amd Hydnotrya tulasnei (LH). • Helvella crispa (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.’.