What You Should Know
This is an edible pink-spored basidiomycete mushroom found in grasslands in Europe and North America. Growing Solitary to gregarious in open areas of conifer/hardwood forests; common under Bishop pine (Pinus muricata) along the coast north of San Francisco; fruiting shortly after the fall rains. It has a grey to white cap and decurrent gills.
This is not a mushroom for novice foragers as it looks very like the deadly poisonous Clitocybe rivulosa or rivulosa and great care should be taken when trying to identify this species.
Other names: The Miller, Sweetbread Mushroom.
Clitopilus prunulus Mushroom Identification
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; apparently widely distributed in North America.
3-12 cm; convex with a somewhat inrolled margin, becoming flat or irregular, often with a wavy margin; dry (or, in var. orcellus, slimy); finely suedelike or nearly bald; white, buff, or pale grayish.
Running down the stem; close or almost distant; whitish at first, then pinkish.
2-8 cm long; up to 1.5 cm thick; sometimes off-center; equal; solid; bald; dry; white or pale grayish.
Fairly firm; white; unchanging when sliced.
Odor and Taste: Strongly mealy.
Spore Print: Brownish pink.
Clitopilus prunulus Look-Alikes
The poisonous Clitocybe rivulosa (Fool's Funnel). The Miller has pink spores whereas Fools Funnel are white, the gills of the miller are more easily pulled away, and the Miller smells of raw pastry. The Miller also prefers woodland whereas Fools Funnel is a grassland species.
Clitopilus prunulus Taxonomy
The Miller was first described scientifically in 1772 by Joannes Antonius Scopoli (1723 - 1788), who named it Agaricus prunulus. (Most gilled fungi were initially placed in a giant Agaricus genus, now redistributed to many other genera.) German mycologist Paul Kummer transferred this species to the new (then) genus Clitopilus in 1871, and it retains that name today.
Clitopilus prunulus has many synonyms including Agaricus prunulus Scop., Agaricus orcellus Bull., Clitopilus orcellus (Bull.) P. Kumm., and Paxillopsis prunulus (Scop.) J. E. Lange.
Clitopilus prunulus Etymology
The specific epithet prunulus is nothing to do with prunes. Some authoprities, including AMINT in their field guide Tutto Funghi, have suggested that, despite the absence of a 'i' in its spelling prunulus means pruinose - frosted or covered in a fine white powder - not generally a prominent characteristic of suede-like caps of this mushroom, whose floury common name The Miller refers to odour rather than form. Much more credible is a suggestion that it is a diminutive form of prunus, a plum tree - hence prunulus would suggest a likeness to a small plum tree.
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