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A fungi to be with...

A Study in Fungi, thank you to Andre Jagger, our "plant" guest blogger today and tomorrow, as we discover what is safe, or not, to eat. I thought the name "vomiter" was a giveaway, but now I know what it looks like!

Some years ago an interest in the Fungi arose and to that end I decided to try to document the macroscopic traits of the fruiting bodies (mushrooms-toadstools) with the best I could throw at them ... The microscopic traits and molecular phylogenetics are an altogether different story and difficult for the citizen scientist to get to grips with unless they have ample time on their hands.

A colleague at my work place happened to go past Nam Cheong Park and suggested he saw something that would make a suitable item in the hotpot ... His interest in sampling the unknown led me to investigate what the unknown was. I trotted off to Nam Cheong Park, Kowloon. There, after altering his destructions on how to find the unknown, I eventually came face to face with with a large troupe of fungi growing in the matted lawn. They were medium sized and not particularly large for this species.

Blog Picture 1

Fast forward to April 2019 when I discovered the same species on Castle Peak Road verge, Kwai Chung, amongst Hibiscus and at the base of the Silk Cotton Trees, growing in soil enriched by dead grass clippings. This species is a saprotroph. These were impressive - their caps had a diameter that reached a good 20 cm. A couple of people from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department noticed my interest in photographing this troupe of fungi and asked about them. I could see they were impressed by the size and number of them. In some sense they lend a lot of credibility to the childrens books for these were typical; long stem(stipe), large semi-spherical to conical to eventually flat caps (pileus), with gills and a nice remnant veil ring around the stipe. What more could you want? They were even "fleshy" and plenty to chew on - hotpot material!

On both encounters I took one or two home for dissection and spore prints. The results confirmed, easily enough, that this species was the False Parasol, Chlorophyllum molybdites.

Blog Picture 2

Chlorophyllum is a genus of fungi that belongs to the family Agaricaceae. In that sense they meet the usual expectations of having what might be considered a "normal" shape for a fungal fruiting body. The genus has a widespread distribution, many species are found in tropical regions. As of mid 2019 there are approximately 28 species in the genus Chlorophyllum. The best known members of the genus are; the edible Shaggy Parasol, this name being applied to any one of three very similar species, C. rhacodes, C. olivieri and C. brunneum, and the other being C. molybdites, which is widespread in subtropical regions around the world. Originally, the False Parasol was in the genus Chlorophyllum, all on its own, it did not have the white spore of the Lepiota mushrooms from the genus Macrolepiota. The sequence of events that changed history of these mushrooms is nicely documented in the work, "What Ever Happened to the Shaggy Parasol?" Else C. Vellinga in McIlvainea Volume 16, Number 2, Fall 2006. Chlorophyllum was originally named due to the presence of the Green Gills (Chloro = Green, Phyllum = Leaf/Gill) that leave a characteristic green spore print of the then single species C. molybdites. The gills of C. molybdites start white like many edible Lepiota, the catch being that they aren't left to mature long enough to see the faintly changing colour, white to very pale green, then light green, grey green and finally grey. Depending on age they may loose a lot of spore and return to a paler yellowish grey or greenish. The gills are free from the stipe, rather broad and closely spaced. The stipe is roughly 4 - 22 cm long and 1.2 - 2.3 cm in diameter, often thickening towards the base. C. molybdites also has a thick white to brownish ring around the stem that starts off white and then often becomes orange to brownish in age. This ring freely surrounds the stipe but is not attached directly to the stipe. C. molybdites does not have a distinctive odor. The spores of C. molybdites are greenish and ellipsoid, measuring 8–13 μm long and 6–8 μm wide with a small pore at the apex.

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