The Families of Mushrooms and Toadstools Represented in the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



Anamorphic forms occurring (these hyphomycetaceous).

Morphology. The fruit-bodies producing asci and ascospores; persistent; erect-elongate, unbranched (to 12 cm or more high); substantially capitate (the cap often with honey-comb like pits); usually stipitate; medium sized to very large; with caps 2–10 cm across; 4–24 cm high; with pale stipes and darker caps of various shades of brown; apothecial; producing asci and spores on an exposed hymenium; ascus-bearing hymenial layer usually everted (the hymenium often lobed or corrugated, usually darker than the stalk); stromata present. The asci cylindrical; asci operculate; without obvious apical thickening; thin walled. The walls of the asci not staining blue with iodine. The ascospores ellipsoid; smooth; hyaline; simple; multinucleate; appendaged (with a minutely guttate appendage at the apex); without a mucilaginous sheath.

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

Ecology. Saprophytic (in soil and on leaf mould). The fruit-bodies borne on the ground. Found in grassy places, in heathland, in coniferous woodland, in broad-leaved woodland, in mixed woodland, and in places modified by human activities.

British representation. 23 species in Britain; Disciotis, Mitrophora, Morchella, Verpa.

World representation. 38 species; genera 3. Widespread, especially temperate.

Classification. Ascomycota; Ascomycetes; Pezizomycetidae; Pezizales.

Comments. The Morchella species edible. ‘Operculate Discomycetes’, with well developed interascal tissue.

Illustrations. • Morchella esculenta, M. vulgaris, Mitrophora semilibera, Verpa conica (LH). • Morchella esculenta and Verpa digitaliformis (Berkeley). • Disciotis venosa (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.’.