What You Should Know
Parasola leiocephala is a delicate pale gray-brown mushroom narrowly egg-shaped at first becoming more open and pleated with age. It occurs singly or in small groups in short grass and on woodland edges.
This is one of the many short-lived inkcap fungi that appear overnight following rain; the fruitbodies develop, expand, shed their spores, and decay within 24 hours and by the next morning there is usually little or no evidence of them ever having been there.
Other names: Bald Inkcap.
Parasola leiocephala Mushroom Identification
1.5-3.5 cm broad at maturity, at first narrowly ovoid to ellipsoid, expanding to convex, finally nearly plane, the disc sometimes slightly depressed; margin incurved, then decurved, eventually level; surface striate-sulcate to near the disc, the latter, tawny-brown, occasionally tinged rust-brown, elsewhere the ribs pale grayish-buff; context membranous, fragile; odor and taste not distinctive
Free, close to subdistant in age, narrow, pallid, eventually grey to blackish, not deliquescing.
2.5-6.5 cm long, 1-2 mm thick, round, fragile, more or less equal except for a sub-bulbous base; surface pallid, translucent, glabrous; partial veil absent.
Spores 8.0-11.0 x 7.0-9.5 x 5.0-7.5 µm, heart to apple-shaped to weakly angular in face-view, elliptical with an eccentric germ pore in profile; hilar appendage conspicuous; spores smooth, thin-walled, blackish in deposit.
Solitary, scattered, to gregarious in grassy areas, especially under trees, disturbed ground, and decaying wood chips; fruiting spring, summer, and fall, after periods of moisture.
Parasola leiocephala Look-Alikes
Has larger spores and its gills are attached to a collar around the top of the stem.
Slightly larger and its young caps are a much darker orange-brown; it has minute hairs among its cap cells and grows in woodland habitats and on woodchip mulch.
Slightly smaller, more grayish, and appears more restricted to grassy habitats compared to the ecologically variable Parasola lactea. Parasola lactea is the dominant species in the San Francisco Bay area, but the reverse may be true elsewhere.
The latter is larger, more tawny-brown overall, has filamentous cap setae (visible with a strong hand lens), and narrowly attached or barely free gills.
Parasola leiocephala Taxonomy and Etymology
This little Inkcap was first described scientifically in 1969 by British mycologist Peter Darbishire Orton (1916 - 2005), who named it Coprinus leiocephala. In 2001, based on DNA sequencing, Redhead, Vilgalys & Hopple redistributed most of the species formerly collected in the Coprinus genus. This and several similar little inkcaps were moved to the genus Parasola along with a great many superficially similar little mushrooms, and so the scientific name of this species became Parasola leiocephala.
Synonyms of Parasola leiocephala include Coprinus leiocephala (P. D. Orton).
The specific epithet leiocephala comes from leio- meaning smooth and cephalus, meaning head. Unlike Parasola auricoma, which has a minutely-hairy cap, the surface of the cap of Parasola leiocephala is smooth.
Photo 1 - Author: Hennie Cuper (Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic)
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