What You Should Know
This is a common mushroom in Autumn and can often be found individually or in large numbers. Its toxicity is in question but as other small Dapperlings can be very poisonous this one should also be treated with suspicion. Its common name refers to the unpleasant smell of rubber or coal gas from this mushroom.
It fruits on the ground in disturbed areas, such as lawns, path and road edges, parks, and gardens. The species produces fruit bodies characterized by the flat, reddish-brown concentric scales on the caps, and an unpleasant odor resembling burnt rubber.
Other names: Stinking Dapperling, Stinking Parasol.
Lepiota cristata Mushroom Identification
Saprobic; growing scattered or gregariously, often in disturbed ground areas like paths, ditches, lawns, and so on, but also on the forest floor under hardwoods or conifers; summer and fall; widely distributed in North America.
2-4 cm; convex or obtusely conic at first, becoming broadly bell-shaped or nearly flat in age; dry; bald at first but soon becoming scaly with pinkish-brown to reddish-brown or brown scales that are usually concentrically arranged; the center typically remaining bald and darker; whitish underneath the scales and toward the margin; the margin sometimes becoming finely lined.
Free from the stem; close; short-gills frequent; white to buff.
3-7 cm long; 2-3 mm thick; more or less equal; bald; fragile; whitish but often becoming pinkish to brownish towards the base; with a fragile, white ring (which may easily disappear) on the upper portion; basal mycelium white.
Whitish; not changing when sliced; thin.
Spore Print: White.
Lepiota cristata Taxonomy and Etymology
The basionym of this species dates from 1871 when British mycologist James Bolton described it and gave it the binomial name Agaricus cristatus. It was German mycologist Paul Kummer who, in 1871, transferred this species to the genus Lepiota, at which point it acquired its currently-accepted name Lepiota cristata.
Synonyms of Lepiota cristata include Agaricus granulatus Schaeff., Agaricus cristatus Bolton, Lepiota cristata var. felinoides Bon, Lepiota felinoides (Bon) P.D. Orton, and Lepiota subfelinoides Bon & P. D. Orton.
Lepiota, the genus name, comes from the Latin word lepis, meaning scale - a reference to the scaly caps of this group of agarics. The specific epithet cristata means crested.
Lepiota cristata Similar Species
Lepiota castaneidisca has a convex cap without a distinct umbo, is typically reddish or pinkish brown as opposed to orange brown, and is typically found in forest whereas L. cristata is typically found in manmade habitats (ruderal, locally nutrient-rich places, on woodchips, in city parks, on roadsides etc., and not common in natural habitats) - microscopically the two are similar.
Vellinga gives a key for nine Californian species with a hymeniform pileus covering, including Lepiota cristata and Lepiota castaneidisca. These two have bullet-shaped spores with a truncate base and are separated by L. cristata having a generally broadly umbonate cap that has an orange-tinged brown covering, whereas L. castaneidisca has a rounded convex cap with red-brown tinged covering.
The other seven have elliptic spores (Lepiota rufipes sensu European authors, L. luteophylla, L. neophana, L. thiersii, L. lilacea, L. phaeoderma, and L. scaberula). Some of these species may be discovered in the Pacific Northwest - in particular L. neophana is a widely distributed species that has been found in Humboldt County of northwest California.
Leucoagaricus rubrotinctus is larger and taller with a more persistent ring, fibrils more likely to have a reddish tone, and cap appearing streaked rather than having concentric rings of scales. Many other species are only differentiated microscopically.
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