Along the Mushroom Trails



A universal veil is a tissue that encloses the entire button mushroom protecting it in its immature state. This thin veil is broken as the mushroom grows. It may leave warts or fragments on the mature mushroom or disappear altogether. This is a young specimen and has a veil below the cap and a bulbous base to the stipe or stem.

The scales on the cap are the remnants of the universal veil that enclosed the mushroom when it was young. The gills on amanita's are free as they don't attach to the stem at all.

The frst part of mushrooms that draw our attention to them, is the cap. This is the fleshy body of the plant and is also called the pileus. These come in many shapes, colours and sizes.
One of the different caps is shown here as this mushroom has a red disc at the apex of the cap. The rest of the cap and the stem are scaly.
The caps of mushrooms vary tremendously. Some are  of the more traditional shape that we discovered as children. Others, like in this species Lactarius rubrilacteus, are depressed, a common feature in many mushrooms
Here we show a cylindrical cap that is about to deliquesce, the fruiting bodies dissolving into a black ink substance which is called deliquescence, with the gill tissue turning into a dark inky liquid, a unique method of spore dispersal typical of Coprinus.
Cup Fungus is usually applied to show the overall shape. Cup fungi have no pores or gills. They have a spore bearing surface inside the cup.
Other species of mushroom have what is called a cap cuticle. This is the layer above the cap contex that helps to protect the flesh from deteriorating. This is Suillus brevipes and it shows the slimy cap cuticle.
Besides the smooth cap and the scaly ones, the depressed centre ones, there are fibrous caps like this one on a bolete. These are quite unique and once again help in the identifacation process.
This shows a morel with its typical cap. This species of mushroom doesn’t have caps or gills as on most common mushrooms. The hollow stems and the cap is spongy and honeycombed with numerous fissures. This species has spore-producing sacs along the insides of its pits or wrinkles.
Many mushroom do not have the regular shaped cap that we are familiar with. This cap is convoluted, all folded and contorted, brainlike. These mushrooms do not have gills but a fertile spore-bearing surface on the outside.
The cap surface shown here on a bolete mushroom is an called an areolate cap, often an important identification feature. This type of cap is sometimes just called cracked.
Besides the cracked surfaces there are some that have a scaly finish to their cap.
We also have those with a two tone colour cap.
This cross section of a mushroom shows the cap. Under the top layer in the centre is the context or flesh, and then the gills below.
The classic gilled mushrooms have an umbrella shape and have gills under the cap. Gills radiate from the stipe and the mushrooms spores are produced on these gills. The gills shown here are attached.
The gills are called lamellae with the sole purpose to produce spores. The gills shown here on the left are attached to the stipe and slightly decurrent as they partially extend down the stipe, On the right the mushroom has decurrent gills and is typical of the genus Clitocybe. Decurrent, when applied to the gills in fungal fruiting bodies, is when the edges nearest the stipe are attached to and extend down the stipe. .
The forking of the gills can be an important feature in helping to identify certain species. This image of Cantharellula umbonata, illustrates this.
More Fungi Page Two