What You Should Know
Parasola auricoma is an inedible a short-lived delicate member of the inkcap group of fungi. This mushroom is easily confused with the Pleated Inkcap (also referred to as the Little Japanese Parasol) Parasola plicatilis.
Parasola auricoma, which was recently given is an inkcap of woodland habitats, where it grows among twigs and leaf litter. In parks and gardens, this little mushroom is common in flowerbeds covered in woodchip mulch.
The color change between somewhat browner (but very variable) young and greyer older specimens is one of the factors that make identification of Parasola mushrooms from macroscopic characters alone very difficult.
Other names: Goldenhaired Inkcap.
Parasola auricoma Mushroom Identification
Saprobic; growing scattered or gregariously on soil, in the grass, or (more frequently) in wood chips; early summer, and sometimes again in fall (and overwinter in warmer climates); widely distributed in North America.
10-60 mm across at maturity; egg-shaped at first, becoming convex or slightly conic, then nearly flat; bald to the naked eye (but finely hairy with a hand lens); becoming deeply grooved from the margin nearly to the center; orangish brown when young, becoming grayish in the grooves; without veil remnants.
Free from the stem or nearly so; close or nearly distant; whitish at first, becoming dark gray and eventually black.
35-120 mm long; up to 3 mm thick; more or less equal; fragile; hollow; bald or very finely silky; whitish to yellowish; without a ring.
Insubstantial; whitish to grayish.
Spores 10-16 x 6-9 µ; ellipsoid; with a prominent, central pore; smooth; dark brown in KOH. Basidia 4-sterigmate. Cheilocystidia cylindric, fusoid-ventricose, or utriform; to about 90 x 25 µ. Pleurocystidia similar; to about 130 x 35 µ. Pileipellis hymeniform; setae scattered to abundant, dark reddish-brown in KOH, thick-walled, to about 400 x 10 µ. Clamp connections present.
Parasola auricoma Taxonomy and Etymology
This little inkcap was described in 1886 by Narcisse Theophile Patouillard (1854 - 1926), who called it Coprinus auricomus, a scientific name by which it was known until 2001 when the DNA-based research findings of Redhead, Vilgalys & Hopple were published. Its scientific name was then changed to Parasola auricoma.
In a 2010 study of the type material of several coprinoid taxa, Laszlo Nagy and colleagues assigned Patouillard's plate 453 (containing the original description) as the lectotype for P. auricoma, as they believed it to be "sufficiently diagnostic for a clear-cut definition of this taxon."
Synonyms of Parasola auricoma include Coprinus auricomus Pat., and Coprinus hansenii J. E. Lange.
The specific epithet auricoma may come from aur- meaning golden and com or coma meaning hair - references to the golden color of young caps and the red-brown hair-like setae visible on the cap surface.
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