What You Should Know
This tasty, common, Autumn mushroom can cause alarming gastric upsets in a number of people so we have placed it in the poisonous section.
Clitocybe nebularis or Lepista Nebularis has convex to flattened or slightly depressed, cloud-gray cap and white, decurrent gills. It grows typically in troops or rings on the soil in broadleaf or coniferous woods.
Occasionally large fairy rings or masses of Clouded Funnels can even appear in shrubberies!
Often listed as edible, but can cause gastric problems. It is to be cooked for a long time or placed in boiling water for short time, as containing thermolabile toxins, nevertheless, it is not tolerated by everybody. Should it cause intoxications, the gastrointestinal syndrome is of short incubation; the symptoms reveal from less than one hour up to 4 hours after consumption. The toxicity of this species is variable.
Other names: Clouded Agaric, Cloud Funnel Cap.
Clitocybe nebularis Mushroom Identification
Saprobic; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously under conifers; fall and winter (in coastal climates); primarily distributed in western North America, but reported from Michigan.
4-25 cm; convex, flat, shallowly depressed, or irregular and distorted; dry or moist; hoary, finely hairy, or relatively smooth; gray to brownish-gray; the margin inrolled at first and later wavy, sometimes lined.
Broadly attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; close; creamy.
5-15 cm long; up to 4 cm thick; with an enlarged base; dry; fairly smooth, or with tiny brownish fibers; white to cream; dingy when handled; with white basal mycelium.
Odor and Taste
Foul, mealy, or sickly sweetish.
Spores 5.5-8.5 x 3-4.5 µ; more or less elliptical; smooth; inamyloid. Cystidia absent. Clamp connections present.
Clitocybe nebularis Look-Alikes
Clitocybe nuda, the Wood Blewit, is similar in form but has pale lilac sinuate gills.
Entoloma sinuatum has yellowish gills at maturity and its spores are pink rather than white; it is a poisonous mushroom and so great care is essential when collecting any pale-capped, whitish-gilled fungi for eating.
Clitocybe nebularis Taxonomy and Etymology
The Clouded Funnel was first described in 1789 by August Johann Georg Karl Batsch, who named it Agaricus nebularis. (In the early days of fungal taxonomy most gilled fungi were initially placed in a giant Agaricus genus, now largely redistributed across many other genera.) In 1871 this species was transferred to the genus Clitocybe by the famous German mycologist Paul Kummer, who renamed it Clitocybe nebularis.
After a couple of genus 'false moves,' it is now firmly resited where Kummer had located it, and indeed Clitocybe nebularis is the type species of the genus Clitocybe, so that were it to be moved to another genus all species that did not move with it would have to be renamed following the strict rules of International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN).
Synonyms of Clitocybe nebularis include Agaricus nebularis Batsch, Gymnopus nebularis (Batsch) Gray, Omphalia nebularis (Batsch) Quel., and Lepista nebularis (Batsch : Fr.) Harmaja.
The generic name Clitocybe means 'sloping head', while the specific epithet comes from the Latin noun nebula, meaning mist - the stuff of clouds. The common name Clouded Funnel refers to the cloud-like coloring of the cap and its shallow funnel-like shape when fully mature.
Clitocybe nebularis Toxicity
Once considered edible, this chunky and plentiful mushroom is now generally treated as suspect. While not the most toxic of toadstools it can seriously upset some people who eat it and so is probably best avoided when gathering fungi for the pot.
Only very occasionally, usually, once they are fully mature or beginning to decay, Clouded Funnels may be parasitized by a rare pink-gilled mushroom Volvariella surrecta.
Photo 1 - Author: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 2 - Author: Agnes Monkelbaan (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 3 - Author: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 4 - Author: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
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