What You Should Know
Hygrophorus latitabundus is a species of fungus in the genus Hygrophorus. It is distributed in European pine forests and has a preference for calcareous soils. It fruits in autumn, producing large, edible mushrooms with slimy caps and stems.
Hygrophorus latitabundus fruiting bodies are large agarics. The cap is convex and slightly umbonate, colored grey, brown, and olivaceous with a darker, brownish center. It is characteristically covered by a glutinous layer of slime, especially in wet weather conditions. The margin is inrolled. The cap diameter can reach 15 cm, and as it matures, it flattens out. The white gills are thick, distant, and have an adnate to the weakly decurrent attachment to the stem.
The white stem is tall, fusiform, thick, and robust. It is ornamented by numerous whitish flakes which are covered in a thick layer of slime. The flakes tend to become brown. The flakes and slime extend from the base of the stem to the level of the margin, where they stop abruptly, creating a ring-like zone. Above this, the stem is white and visibly thinner. The stem is up to 15 cm tall and 2–4 cm thick.
The white flesh is thick and firm, with a fungal smell and pleasant taste. An identification aid is the chemical reaction of the stem flesh when exposed to ammonia solution. In this species, it turns orange-rust and then browns in the base and yellow-ochre at the top.
Other names: Ebony Woodwax.
Hygrophorus latitabundus Mushroom Identification
Initially convex, expanding to become almost flat with an inrolled margin and a broad low umbo, sometimes within a broad central depression; surface smooth, gray-brown, reddish-brown, or olivaceous at the margin and increasingly blackish-brown towards the center of the cap. Very slimy when wet, remaining glutinous for a long time in dry weather. 3 to 12 cm across when fully mature. The cap flesh is white.
Waxy, arched, weakly decurrent, and moderately spaced; white when young, gradually becoming flecked with brown.
White with reddish-brown fibrils near the cap, but paler towards the stem base; slightly fusiform, (thickened slightly just below the middle then narrowing again towards the base); slimy; 4 to 12cm long, 1 to 3cm in diameter. The stem flesh is firm and whitish. (The stem flesh turns rusty orange-yellow with KOH).
Ellipsoidal, smooth, 7.8-11.4 x 5.1-7.5µm.
Odor and Taste
Odor faintly mushroom; taste mild.
Habitat & Ecological Role
Ectomycorrhizal, found under pine trees; favoring calcareous soils
Autumn in central Europe; November to January in southern Portugal.
Hygrophorus latitabundus Look-Alikes
Has a brownish cap but is distinguished by its distant yellow gills and yellowish stem.
The fruiting body has a similar appearance, but the species is found only in deciduous forests with oak (Quercus) and beech (Fagus). Its flesh turns greenish with ammonia solution.
A less robust species which often bears dark, rough-banded stem ornamentation, and occurs with spruce (Picea), frequently in moss. Its stem flesh discolors to orange-red with ammonia solution.
Hygrophorus latitabundus Taxonomy and Etymology
The basionym of this species was established in 1899, when German naturalist Max Britzelmayr (1839 - 1909) gave it the binomial scientific name Hygrophorus latitabundus by which it is generally known today.
Synonyms of Hygrophorus latitabundus include Hygrophorus olivaceoalba var. obesus (Bres.) Rea.
Hygrophorus, the genus name, comes from hygro- meaning moisture, and -phorus meaning bearer; not only do these fungi contain a lot of water but they are also moist and sticky or slimy.
The specific epithet latitabundus comes from Latin and may be a combination of latit- (the meaning is obscure) and -abundus meaning abundant or plentiful. The one thing this woodwax mushroom has an abundance of it slime, which covers the cap and stem.
Photo 1 - Author: Benutzer:Paffka (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: Holger Krisp (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International)
Photo 3 - Author: Pau Cabot (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
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