Leucoagaricus leucothites: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Leucoagaricus leucothites Mushroom
This common mushroom, also known as Leucoagaricus naucinus and, in older sources, Lepiota naucina, appears in lawns across North America - typically in fall, but occasionally in spring and summer as well.
This mushroom is recognized by its white gills, white cap, and white ring. It lacks a universal veil, so it does not feature warts or patches on the cap, nor a volva at the base of the stem - but it could be easily mistaken for an Amanita on casual inspection.
It is a widespread mushroom that occurs mostly in grassy areas, gardens, and other human-influenced habitats, but also occasionally in forests.
Other names: White Dapperling, White Agaricus Mushroom.
Leucoagaricus leucothites Identification
Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously in grassy areas or on the disturbed ground (roadsides, cultivated areas, and so on); often in the vicinity of conifers (the most impressive fruiting I have seen occurred in a lawn where a spruce tree had been removed the previous year); occasionally appearing in woods; late summer through fall (but sometimes found in spring); widely distributed and common throughout North America. The illustrated and described collections are from Illinois, Michigan, and Québec.
5-9 cm; convex or irregularly convex when young ("lumpy looking"), becoming broadly convex, broadly bell-shaped, or nearly flat; dry; minutely to finely or moderately scaly, especially when young--but often becoming bald with age; soft; white or grayish-white when fresh; sometimes staining and bruising yellowish to brownish, especially along the margin; the margin not lined.
Free from the stem; close; short-gills frequent; white.
6-10 cm long; 1-1.5 cm thick; usually club-shaped; dry; bald; discoloring and bruising yellowish to brownish; becoming hollow; with a white ring on the upper stem that is fairly persistent but may fall away.
White; not changing when sliced, or staining yellowish in the stem base.
Spore Print: White.
Leucoagaricus leucothites Taxonomy & Etymology
This chunky grassland mushroom was described in 1835 by the Italian medic and naturalist Carlo Vittadini (1800 - 1865), who gave it the scientific name Agaricus leucothites.
In 1977 the Ukrainian mycologist Solomon P Wasser (born 1946) transferred this species to the genus Leucoagaricus, establishing its currently accepted scientific name Leucoagaricus leucothites.
Synonyms of Leucoagaricus leucothites include Agaricus leucothites Vittad., Agaricus holosericeus Fr., Agaricus naucinus Fr., Lepiota naucina (Fr.) P. Kumm., Lepiota holosericea (Fr.) Gillet, Annularia laevis (Krombh.) Gillet, Lepiota naucina var. leucothites (Vittad.) Sacc., Leucocoprinus holosericeus (Fr.) Locq., Leucoagaricus naucinus (Fr.) Singer, Lepiota leucothites (Vittad.) P. D. Orton, and Leucoagaricus holosericeus (Fr.) M.M. Moser.
Leucoagaricus is derived from the Greek Leucos meaning white and Agaricus, the genus name of the 'true mushrooms' as many people call the Field Mushroom, Horse Mushroom and their close relatives all of which have pink gills that darken when the brown or purple-brown spores mature. So Leucoagaricus suggests a group of white mushrooms that are in most respects similar to Agaricus species.
The specific epithet leucothites comes from the same Greek root leucos meaning white, but -thites had me foxed until Aren & Maria van Waarde kindly contributed the following suggestion, based on a dictionary of - Classical Greek written by Prof.G.J.M.Bartelink in 1958:
Thites comes from a Greek word spelled theta-eta-tau-epsilon-sigma, this was the name for the lowest - Class in society. The word thitikos (spelled theta-eta-tau-iota-kappa-omikron-sigma) means 'of the - Class of the thites', or in other words 'from the lowest - Class'. Thus leucothites might be read as 'the low - Class white' suggesting that the White Dapperling is edible but much less tasty than white agarics such as Agaricus campestris or Agaricus arvensis.
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