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tavaharmik (Clitopilus prunulus)

Clitopilus prunulus


[Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Entolomataceae > Clitopilus . . . )


by Michael Kuo


Many field guides rate this mushroom as a choice edible, and it is apparently a popular species for the table in Europe. However, it is very similar in appearance to several poisonous mushrooms (such as Clitocybe dealbata), which should put it out of consideration for all but the most experienced mushroom identifiers. Additionally, its odor and taste are strongly mealy, though some authors claim the mealy taste disappears on cooking.


The identifying features of Clitopilus prunulus include:



A pink to salmon-colored spore print;

A whitish to grayish cap with a dry, finely suedelike surface (or a slimy surface, in var. orcellus) and, often, a wavy margin;

Gills that run down the stem and are pinkish at maturity;

Mealy odor and taste;

Spores that are pointed-elliptical and ridged lengthwise.


Clitopilus prunulus is sometimes called the "Sweetbread Mushroom," or "The Miller"--references to the mealy odor. I have a strongly negative reaction to mealy mushrooms. The smell, labeled "farinaceous" in Mycologese, is sometimes compared to the smell of an old grain mill, or of watermelon rind. For the life of me, I can't see how people can eat and enjoy mushrooms with this odor. Polyporus squamosus, for example, is eagerly consumed by many. But I would sooner put the most excruciatingly acrid Lactarius or Russula in my mouth than a mealy mushroom; the idea turns my stomach.




Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously under hardwoods or conifers, in grassy areas and open woods; summer and fall, or in winter in warmer climates; widely distributed in North America.


Cap: 3-12 cm; convex with a somewhat inrolled margin, becoming flat or irregular, often with a wavy margin; dry; finely suedelike; white, buff, or pale grayish.


Gills: Running down the stem; close or almost distant; whitish at first, then pinkish.


Stem: 3-8 cm long; up to 1.5 cm thick; sometimes off-center; equal; solid; smooth; dry; white or pale grayish.


Flesh: Fairly firm; white.


Taste: Strongly mealy; odor strongly mealy.


Spore Print: Pink or salmon colored.


Microscopic Features: Spores 9-12 x 4-7 µ; elliptical with pinched ends (like long footballs); ridged lengthwise; angular when viewed from the end.



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