What You Should Know
Tricholoma focale is a medium-sized, fleshy mushroom with orange-brown to reddish-brown with cream gills and a distinctively banded stem. It grows scattered or in small trooping groups on soil with pines in coastal locations.
With maturity, olive shades may begin to develop on the cap. A drop of KOH on the cap surface produces a bright dull to bright red reaction.
Armillaria zelleri and Tricholoma zelleri are synonyms, according to most mycologists. Armillaria zelleri was named by Stuntz and Smith (in Smith, 1949), who argued that its sticky cap distinguished it from Armillaria Focalis, which had a dry cap.
Looking rather like a spinning top, this knight with a ring was at one time moved into the genus Armillaria (with the Honey Fungus), but it is now back with the other knights of the realm.
Other names: Booted Knight.
Tricholoma focale Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with conifers—especially pines; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; fall or, in warmer climates, overwinter; fairly widely distributed in northern and montane North America.
4–8 cm; convex, becoming broadly convex to nearly flat when mature; sticky at first, but soon dry and shiny; covered with long, innate fibrils; orangish golden to orange-brown, often developing brown to olive hues; the margin at first inrolled and adorned with white veil tissue.
Attached to the stem by a notch; close; short-gills frequent; whitish; discoloring and spotting brownish to brown with age.
5–9 cm long; 2–3 cm thick; more or less equal above a tapered base; with a cottony white ring that discolors brownish and often collapses with age; bald and whitish above the ring but shaggy below it, with orange-brown fibrils over a buff ground color.
Whitish or slightly brownish in places; unchanging when sliced.
Odor and Taste
Odor strongly mealy; taste mealy, often with a foul or bitter component.
KOH on cap surface dull to bright red.
Spores 4–6 x 2.5–3.5 µm; ellipsoid; smooth; inamyloid; hyaline in KOH. Basidia 4-sterigmate. Pleurocystidia not found. Cheilocystidia not found. Lamellar trama parallel. Pileipellis an ixocutis of cylindric elements 2.5–5 µ wide, smooth, orangish brown in KOH. Clamp connections not found.
Tricholoma focale Taxonomy and Etymology
When in 1838 Elias Magnus Fries described this chunky mushroom he gave it the scientific name Agaricus focalis. It was German mycologist Adalbert Ricken (1851 - 1921) who, in 1879, transferred this species to the genus Tricholoma, thus establishing its currently-accepted scientific name as Tricholoma focale.
Synonyms of Tricholoma focale include Agaricus focalis Fr., and Armillaria focalis (Fr.) P. Karst.
Tricholoma was established as a genus by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries. The generic name comes from Greek words meaning 'hairy fringe', and it must be one of the least appropriate mycological genus names because very few species within this genus have hairy or even shaggily scaly cap margins that would justify the descriptive term.
Photo 1 - Author: Svencapoeira (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 2 - Author: Ryane Snow (snowman) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
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