The Families of Mushrooms and Toadstools Represented in the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


‘Flask Fungi’.

Anamorphic forms occurring (involving at least 5 generic names).

Morphology. The fruit-bodies producing asci and ascospores; persistent (without separable layers); usually erect-elongate, unbranched, or erect-branching, or globose (or sub-globose, e.g., Hypoxylon fragiliforme, Daldinia), or discoid, or funnel-shaped (e.g., Poronia); when erect-elongate, linear, or ligulate, or clavate, or capitate; clustered, or solitary; stipitate to sessile; basally coalescing, or discrete; small to very large; when erect-branching, 2–6 cm across; when prostrate, 0.5–10 cm high, or 5–40 cm high (Kretzchmaria deusta sometimes being very wide); not brightly pigmented (usually black); blackish (mostly); perithecial (the perithecia globose, superficial or immersed in the stroma, black and thick-walled); comprising a pre-formed stroma bearing perithecia in which asci, spores and paraphyses develop; stromata present (stroma well developed, comprising most of the fruit-body; i.e., often elongate, sometimes stipitate and/or branched, sometimes subglobose; usually comprising only fungal tissue, usually black, internally similar or white). The asci cylindrical, usually 8-spored; with more or less conspicuous apical thickening (usually with a large, complex J+ apical ring); more or less thick walled. The walls of the asci not staining blue with iodine. The ascospores usually dark brown; simple (with a germination slit); with a mucilaginous sheath, or without a mucilaginous sheath.

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

Ecology. Parasitic, or saprophytic; when parasitic, on vascular plants (e.g., X. hypoxylon responsible for ‘Black Root Rot of Apple’, and Xylaria digitata causing root rots of various hardwoods), or on other fungi (e.g., X. vaporaria invading mushroom beds). Coprophilous (Poronia punctata), or neither coprophilous nor particularly associated with decaying keratinous materials (mostly). The fruit-bodies mostly on dead wood. Found in broad-leaved woodland and in mixed woodland.

British representation. About 155 species in Britain (with only about 12 species but hundreds of synonyms in Sphaeria); Anthostomella Ascotricha, Barrmaelia, Biscogniauxia, Daldinia, Entoleuca, Euepixylon, Hypocopra, Hypoxylon, Kretzschmaria, Lopadostoma, Nemania, Nummularia, Podosordaria, Poronia, Rosellinia, Sphaeria, Wawelia, Xylaria.

World representation. 386 species; genera 48. Cosmopolitan.

Classification. Ascomycota; Ascomycetes; Sordariomycetidae; Xylariales.

Illustrations. • Daldinia, Hypoxylon, Kretschmaria, Poronia, Xylaria (LH). • Hypoxylon multiforme, Kretzschmaria deusta, Xylaria bulbosa and X. hypoxylon (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.’.