Spathularia flavida: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Spathularia flavida Mushroom
Spathularia flavida is an ascomycete fungus found in coniferous forests of Asia, Europe and North America. It produces a small, fan- or spoon-shaped fruit body with a flat, wavy or lobed cream to yellow-colored "head" raised on a white to cream stalk. The stipe is whitish to yellow or yellow-brown and usually has whitish to yellow fuzz at the base. The fertile head usually is some shade of creamy yellow.
The role of these little club-like fungi in the natural world is thought to be that of recycler; they feed of fallen conifer needles and rotting twigs, helping to break them down into simple compounds that trees and other plants can feed on.
Spathularia flavida is common in temperate regions such as the Pacific Northwest region of North America, extending north to Alaska; it is, however, unknown in Mexico. In Europe, it has been collected from Britain, Germany, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Scandinavia, and Italy; in Asia, it has been reported from India Japan, and Turkey. It is considered a protected species in Slovakia.
Other names: Yellow Earthtongue, Fairy Fan, Spatula Fungus.
Spathularia flavida Identification
Presumably saprobic; growing gregariously or in clusters under conifers in needle duff; summer and fall; northern and montane North America; widespread in Europe.
Roughly spatula-shaped, with a flattened head portion at the top of a stem, usually running down the stem on either side of it. Head 15–25 mm across; 20–30 mm high; clear, pale yellow; bald and often slightly wrinkled; moist when fresh. Stem 25–40 x 4–8 mm; more or less equal; bald; whitish; becoming hollow; attached to whitish mycelium. Flesh insubstantial; somewhat rubbery; yellowish. Odor is not distinctive.
Spores 30–75 x 1–3 µm; aciculate; often slightly curved; smooth; hyaline and multiguttulate in KOH. Asci 60–110 x 8–10 µm; fusiform; hyaline in KOH. Paraphyses 60–130 x 1–4 µm; cylindric; flexuous; apices rounded or subclavate; often curving, hooking, or curling past the asci—sometimes dramatically so, creating a tangled mass of hyphae appressed to the hymenial surface; smooth; hyaline in KOH.
Spathularia flavida Variants
Mains described a number of varieties of S. flavida based largely on differences in the shapes and sizes of their spores. All varieties were described from collections made in the United States.
S. flavida var. flavida
In the typical variety, spores range in size from 40–62 µm (although a smaller range of 45–56 µm is most typical) by 2–2.5 µm; the paraphyses are either slightly branched above or not at all, and are curved to circinate at their apices.
S. flavida var. tortuosa
In this variety, the paraphyses are more curved to circinate and twisted at the apices, and often form a dense intertwined layer above the asci.
S. flavida var. ramosa
The spores are smaller than the typical variety, usually 39–42 by 1.5–2 µm; the paraphyses are irregularly branched on the upper portion. Fruit bodies in this variety are club-shaped and flattened compared to the typical tongue-shape of the typical variety.
S. flavida var. brevispora
This variety, common in Michigan, has spores that are 32–40 by 2 µm.
S. flavida var. longispora
Variety longispora is known from the Pacific Northwest. It has spores that are 55–75 by 2–2.5 µm, and paraphyses that are similar to the typical variety.
Spathularia flavida Look-Alikes
Differs by its darker brown hairy stipe with orangeish fuzz at the base, browner fertile head, and distribution primarily in eastern North America.
Has an ochre color, spores that measure 60–80 by 1.5–2 µm, and paraphyses that are branched on the upper parts.
Is roughly similar in appearance to S. flavida, but lacks a sharply differentiated, spoon-shaped head, has a stem lighter in color than the head, and microscopically, has much smaller oval to elliptical spores that measure 5.5–8.5 by 3–4 µm.
Has a well-defined oval to spoon-shaped head, and sausage- to spindle-shaped spores that are 18–38 by 4–6 µm.
Spathularia flavida Taxonomy & Etymology
The great South-African born mycologist Christiaan Hendrick Persoon described this ascomycetous fungus in 1794, he named it Spathularia flavida.
Synonyms of Spathularia flavida Pers. include Clavaria flavida (Pers.) Mussat, Helvella clavata Schaeff., Spathularia clavata (Schaeff.) Sacc., Clavaria spatulata Dicks., Helvella spatulata (Dicks.) Purton, Mitrula crispata Fr., Spathulea crispata (Fr.) Fr., Spathularia crispata (Fr.) Mussat, and Mitrula spathulata Fr.
The genus name Spathularia refers to the spatula-like shape - a short-handled implement with a broad, flat, blunt blade used for spreading paste, while the specific epithet flavida means yellow.
Help Improve Ultimate Mushroom
If you find an error or you want to add more information about the mushroom please click here.