The Families of Mushrooms and Toadstools Represented in the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Including the ‘Death-cap Fungi’.

Dubiously including Amanitaceae.

Morphology. The fruit-bodies producing basidia and basidiospores; ephemeral; solitary; differentiated into a stipe and pileus with the hymenium underneath the latter; small to large; (2–)4–12(–16) cm across. The mature pileus convex, or parasol-shaped, or more or less flat or somewhat depressed. The fruit-bodies brightly pigmented, or not brightly pigmented. The top of the pileus conspicuously patterned with scales (white on red, brown on white or cream, etc.), or not patterned with scales; white or whitish, or cream or yellowish, or buff, or straw-coloured, or yellowish-brown, or reddish-brown, or light brown, or dark brown, or orange, or olive, or yellow, or green, or red. The stipe bearing a ring but no volva (or the volva very reduced, in some Amanita species), or with a volva but no ring (in Volvariella), or with both ring and volva (in most Amanita species), or with neither ring nor volva (in Pluteus). The hymenium borne on gills (the lamellae free, thin, the hymenophoral trama bilateral, convergent in Pluteaceae s. str. and divergent in Amanitaceae). The hymenophore mostly free. The hymenophoral trama bilateral (the hymenophoral trama divergent in Amanitaceae, convergent in Pluteaceae s. str.). The basidia ‘unmodified’. The basidiospores globose to elongate-ellipsoid; ballistosporic; dull pink (Pluteaceae sensu stricto), or white to cream (Amanitaceae).

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 and mycorrhizal. The fruit-bodies borne on the ground (mostly), or on dead wood (e.g., some Pluteus species on rotted stumps). Found in heathland, in coniferous woodland, in broad-leaved woodland, in mixed woodland, and in places modified by human activities.

British representation. Amanita, Limacella, Pluteus, Volvaria, Volvariella.

World representation. 874 species; genera 6. “Widespread”.

Classification. Basidiomycota; Basidiomycetes; Agaricomycetidae; Agaricales.

Comments. Very poisonous (several Amanita species, with A. muscaria also notably psychotropic), or edible (e.g., Pluteus cervinus, Volvariella spp., and for the brave and optimistic, Amanita rubescens when cooked). “Hymenophoral trama bilateral, convergent”.

Illustrations. • Amanita fulva, A. muscaria, A. phalloides, A. vaginata, A. virosa (LH). • Amanita citrina, A. excelsa, A. pantherina, A. porphyrea, A. rubescens (LH). • Amanita strangulata (LH). • Limacella guttata, Pluteus cervinus, Volvariella bombycina, V. gloeocephala, V. surrecta (LH). • Pluteus aurantiorugosus, cinereofuscus, petasatus, plautus, romellii, salicinus (LH). • Amanita ceciliae, A. excelsa, A. phalloides, A. strobiliformis and A. vaginata (Berkeley). • Amanita citrina, A. muscaria, A. rubescens and A. verna (Price). • 2 Pluteus spp. and 3 of Volvariella spp. (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.’.