The Families of Mushrooms and Toadstools Represented in the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Morphology. The fruit-bodies producing basidia and basidiospores; ephemeral, or persistent; annual or perennial, differentiated into a stipe and pileus with the hymenium underneath the latter (Coltricia), or attached laterally and bracket-shaped, or flattened and more or less appressed to the substrate or encrusting, with the hymenium on the outside (pileate to resupinate); small to very large; (2–)5–25 cm across; yellowish-brown, or light brown, or reddish-brown, or dark brown, or blackish. The stipe with neither ring nor volva. The hymenium porose, or smooth (asterosetae or dichohyphidia and haplosetae or macrosetae often present). Hyphidia represented by often dichohyphidia. The basidia ‘unmodified’. The basidiospores hyaline, or yellow-brown, or brown (hyaline to brown); usually smooth; amyloid (rarely), or inamyloid.

The hyphae without clamp connections. The hyphal walls lamellate, with a thin, electron-dense outer layer and a relatively thick, electron-transparent inner layer. The hyphae monomitic, or dimitic.

Chemical reactions. The context hyphae xanthochroic.

Ecology. Parasitic and saprophytic (e.g., Phellinus, Inonotus), or saprophytic (Coltricia); when parasitic, on other fungi (on broad-leaved trees). The fruit-bodies borne on the ground (Coltricia), or on dead wood and on living wood (then typically causing white rots). Coltricia often associated with burned ground. Found in heathland, in broad-leaved woodland, in mixed woodland, and in coniferous woodland.

British representation. About 50 species in Britain; Coltricia, Hymenochaete, Inonotus, Phellinus, Phylloporia, Polystictus.

World representation. 298 species; genera 14. “Widespread”.

Classification. Basidiomycota; Basidiomycetes; Agaricomycetidae; Hymenochaetales.

Comments. Euhymenial (i.e., the basidia and their sterile homologues being the first-formed parts of the hymenium, constituting a palisade), and setoid structures present, by contrast with Lachnocladiaceae.

Illustrations. • Coltricia perennis, Hymenochaete rubiginosa, Inotus (2 spp.), Phellinus (2 spp.) (LH). • Coltricia perennis (Price).

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.’.