Leotia lubrica: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Leotia lubrica Mushroom
Leotia lubrica is a species of fungus in the family Leotiaceae. The species produces small fruit bodies up to 6 centimetres (2.4 in) in height, featuring a "head" and a stalk. Ochre with tints of olive-green, the heads are irregularly shaped, while the stalk, of a similar color, attaches them to the ground.
While in shape it is convex, the head is made up of irregular lobes and undulations, and the edge is rolled inward. The underside is paler in color than the upper surface, and smooth. The head is attached to a central stalk, which ranges from 3 to 6 mm wide, though thinner toward the substrate. The stalk is typically cylindrical, but can be flattened, and occasionally has furrows.
The color is similar to that of the head, though more yellow, and the surface is covered in very small granules of a greenish color. The flesh is gelatinous in the head, while the stalk is mostly hollow, but it can be filled with gel.
Although the specimens shown here are lemon yellow, it is not uncommon to find golden yellow or even orange Jellybabies; the caps are often furrowed and convoluted rather than smooth, shiny, and neatly domed.
Other names: Jelly Baby.
Leotia lubrica Edibility
Its fruit bodies are of little culinary interest, and, contrary to what is suggested by the common name, is often described as inedible by field guides. However, it has also been reported that, while it is little known, the species is, in fact, edible, with Charles McIlvaine even considering it good.
By comparison, American mycologists Alan Bessette and Walter J. Sundberg describe the species as edible but describe the taste as "bland". In the field, the flesh has no discernible smell or taste.
Leotia lubrica Identification
Saprobic; growing gregariously under hardwoods or conifers (often in moss); occasionally found on rotting wood; late spring through fall (overwinter in warm climates); widely distributed and common in North America.
1-4 cm; variable in shape but more or less convex; convoluted; bald; with a smooth or slightly wrinkled surface; sticky or slimy when fresh, but sometimes drying out; the margin inrolled; buff, brownish yellow, yellow, or olive--not infrequently turning dark green to nearly black with age; undersurface bald and pale.
2-8 cm long; up to 1 cm wide; bald; often adorned with tiny pale flakes; more or less equal; sticky or slimy when fresh; colored like the cap or paler; slowly bruising dark green where damaged; hollow or filled with gelatinous material.
Gelatinous when fresh.
Leotia lubrica Similar Species
L. lubrica fruit bodies are similar to those of Cudonia confusa, commonly known as the cinnamon jellybaby. The species can be differentiated by the fact that L. lubrica fruit bodies are more sturdy, and those of C. confusa are much paler in colour. Another Cudonia species, C. circinans (which is highly similar to C. lutea), is similar to L. lubrica, though it can be differentiated by its colour (which is more brown), spores (which are smaller and thinner) and texture (which is less slimy and gelatinous than L. lubrica). L. lubrica fruit bodies can also be mistaken for those of the much rarer L. atrovirens, which can be differentiated by its darker colouration.
L. viscosa can again be differentiated by coloration; the species has a green head. However, as L. lubrica fruit bodies can sometimes have a greenish hue, differentiation between the two species is not always easy.
Leotia lubrica Taxonomy & Etymology
When in 1772 Italian mycologist Giovanni Antonio Scopoli described this species scientifically, he gave it the binomial name Helvella lubrica, thus establishing its basionym. In 1794 Christiaan Hendrik Persoon transferred this species to the genus Leotia (which was established in the same year by Persoon himself), whereupon its scientific name became Leotia lubrica. Leotia lubrica is the type species of its genus.
Synonyms of Leotia lubrica include Leotia gelatinosa Hill, Helvella lubrica Scop., and Peziza cornucopiae Hoffm.
The specific epithet lubrica means slimy, but perhaps sticky or gummy might have been more appropriate.
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