Psathyrella is a large genus of about 400 fungi, and is similar to the genera Coprinellus, Coprinopsis, Coprinus and Panaeolus, usually with a thin cap and white or yellowish white hollow stem. But the caps do not self digest as do those of Coprinellus and Coprinopsis. Some also have brown spores rather than black. These fungi are often drab-colored, difficult to identify, and inedible, and so they are sometimes considered uninteresting. However they are quite common and can occur at times when there are few other mushrooms to be seen. The first report of a gilled mushroom fruiting underwater is Psathyrella aquatica.
The genus name Psathyrella is a diminutive form of Psathyra, derived from the Greek word meaning "friable", psathuros (ψαθυρος)
In order to identify the species it may be necessary to take into account the presence and nature of any veil remnants on cap (which may only be visible on very young fruiting bodies), the colour of young fruiting bodies, which is often more vivid than with older ones, whether the cap is hygrophanous (it can well be a translucent brown or ochre colour in a humid state but a pure opaque white on drying out), and the spore size and the presence and nature of cheilocystidia, pleurocystidia and caulocystidia, distinctive sterile cells on the gill face, gill edge and stipe respectively.
Symptoms of poisoning
In the BBC series "Wild Food", Gordon Hillman related an incident where he was accidentally given a sample of Psathyrella instead of edible mushrooms. After consuming the mushrooms, Hillman drank a glass of beer and suffered an adverse reaction, suffering blue-and-white monochrome vision followed by memory problems and breathing difficulties. Hillman wrote the name of the fungus on a piece of paper which he attached to his chest and later recovered after having his stomach pumped.
For complete list see List of Psathyrella species
- Psathyrella ammophila (dune brittlestem)
- Psathyrella aquatica
- Psathyrella candolleana (pale brittlestem)
- Psathyrella corrugis (red edge brittlestem)
- Psathyrella piluliformis = Psathyrella hydrophila (common stump brittlestem)
- Kirk PM, Cannon PF, Minter DW, Stalpers JA. (2008). Dictionary of the Fungi. (10th ed.). Wallingford: CABI. p. 564. ISBN 978-0-85199-826-8.
- Frank JL, Coffan RA, Southworth D., JL; Coffan, RA; Southworth, D (2010). "Aquatic gilled mushrooms: Psathyrella fruiting in the Rogue River in southern Oregon". Mycologia 102 (1): 93–107. doi:10.3852/07-190. PMID 20120233.
- Marcel Bon : The Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain and North-Western Europe (Hodder & Stoughton, 1987). ISBN 0-340-39935-X