Asterophora lycoperdoides: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Asterophora lycoperdoides Mushroom
Asterophora lycoperdoides is a rare species of fungus in the Lyophyllaceae family. It grows as a parasite on other mushrooms, mainly those in the genus Russula. Its gills are poorly formed or nearly absent. Asexual spores are produced on the mushroom cap which enable the organism to clone itself easily. The spores are star-shaped, hence the name star bearer. It is regarded as nonpoisonous but inedible.
This mushroom can be distinguished by its white to light brown cap that becomes powdery in age, lack of well-defined gills, and growth on rotting mushrooms.
The powdery substance that ends up covering these mature mushrooms is the species asexual spores. These spores known as chlamydospores have the same genetic makeup as the individual that created them, ultimately yielding clones if those asexual spores germinate. This form of reproduction is not uncommon throughout the fungal kingdom, as thousands upon thousands of species produce asexual spores. Although this species does produce sexual spores from basidia on its gills, chlamydospores are its main dispersal method.
Most fruiting bodies of Asterophora lycoperdoides don’t produce gills, let alone functional basidia. Only the large individuals produce gills that generate sexual spores. Smaller mushrooms depend solely on their powdery chlamydospores to reproduce.
Other names: Powdery Piggyback.
Asterophora lycoperdoides Identification
Parasitic on species of Russula and Lactarius (especially Russula dissimulans, Russula densifolia, and closely related blushing russulas); growing alone or gregariously; usually appearing when the victim has begun to blacken and decay; found in a variety of forests since the victims are mycorrhizal with both hardwoods and conifers; summer, fall, and winter (in warmer climates); originally described from France, and found throughout Europe; widely distributed in North America but more common east of the Great Plains; also known from Central America, northern Africa, and Asia.
4–20 mm across; convex or nearly round; dry; at first whitish and a little bit roughened or lumpy, becoming covered with dense, orangish-brown powder.
Attached to the stem; thick; distant; sometimes poorly formed or vein-like; whitish or grayish; eventually covered with orangish-brown powder.
4–30 mm long; 2–5 mm thick; more or less equal; dry; bald or finely fuzzy; whitish to brownish; eventually covered with orangish-brown powder; basal mycelium white.
White; unchanging when sliced.
Basidiospores 5–6 x 4–5 µm; ellipsoid; smooth; hyaline in KOH; inamyloid. Basidia 25–28 x 3–6 µm; subclavate; 4-sterigmate. Cystidia not found. Hyphae near the cap surface 3–9 µm wide; walls 0.5 µm thick; smooth; hyaline in KOH; occasionally clamped at septa; contextual hyphae similar but inflated up to 18 µm wide. Chlamydospores 16–20 x 14–17 µm including ornamentation; nodulose-spiny (stellate) but otherwise smooth; hyaline to faintly yellowish in KOH.
Asterophora lycoperdoides Taxonomy & Etymology
This species was first described in 1791 by the French mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard, who gave it the scientific name Agaricus lycoperdoides. German mycologist L. P. Fr. Ditmar (a mysterious man whose biographical information appears to be limited to dates of publication) transferred this species to the genus Asterophora inn1809.
Synonyms of Asterophora lycoperdoides include Nyctalis lycoperdoides (Bull.) Konrad & Maubl., Agaricus lycoperdoides Bull., Asterophora agaricoides Fr., and Nyctalis asterophora Fr.
Asterophora comes from the Greek words "a'ster" (meaning star) and "phor-" a form of "phero" (meaning to bear or carry) - hence bearing stars, or starry. The coarsely verrucose to blunty spinose chlamydospores do indeed appear to be bearing stars on their surfaces.
The specific epithet lycoperdoides refers to the smell of these fungi; Lycoperdon means 'wolf's flatulence', and the suffix -oides simply implies similarity to Lycoperdon.
Asterophora lycoperdoides profile
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