What You Should Know
Asterophora parasitica is a fungus that can parasitize other fungi. Fruiting bodies are small, gray caps with silky fibers and thick, broad gills. Mushrooms fruit in clusters on the decaying remains of Lactarius and Russula species. This fungus is widespread but uncommon, mainly found in temperate regions of Europe and North America. It takes about three weeks for A. parasitica to complete its development on an agaric.
Other names: Russula Parasite, Silky Piggyback, Plaatjeszwamgast (Netherlands), Rovetka Cizopasná (Czech Republic), Beschleierter Zwitterling (German).
Asterophora parasitica Mushroom Identification
0.5-5 cm in diameter, initially bell-shaped, later flat-spread, often with a tubercle in the middle. The surface is smooth, slightly silky, white, grayish-white, brownish-white, reddish-white, and rarely brownish or purple-gray.
The hymenophore is lamellar. The gills are wide, thick, descend on the stem, at first white, later red, blurring in maturity.
1-5 cm high, 0.2-0.5 cm in diameter, bent, hollow, fibrous, hairy, initially whitish, later grayish.
The flesh is thin, with an unpleasant smell.
It parasitizes on the caps of the White Russula (Russula delica) and Lactarius piperatus.
Summer to Autumn.
- Microscopic Features
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 parasitica Look-Alikes
Does not have such developed petals and has a brown dusty cap.
Very similar in appearance but distinguished cracked-liked egg at the base of the stem.
Asterophora parasitica Taxonomy and Etymology
Jean Baptiste Francois Pierre Bulliard first described the species as Agaricus parasiticus in 1791.
In 1951 Rolf Singer transferred it to Asterophora genus.
Asterophora comes from the Greek words "a'ster" meaning star and "phor-" a form of "phero" meaning to bear or carry.
The specific epithet parasitica refers to the parasitic nature of the mushroom (feeds another fungus).
Asterophora parasitica Synonyms
Merulius parasiticus (Bull. ex Pers.) Purton, 1821
Agaricus parasiticus Bull. ex Pers. (1801)
Agaricus umbratus With.
Asterophora parasitica (Bull. ex Pers.) Singer
Gymnopus parasiticus (Bull. ex Pers.) Gray, 1821
Nyctalis parasitica (Bull. ex Pers.) Fr., 1838
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