This section is from the book "Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc.", by George Francis Atkinson. Also available from Amazon: Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc..
The genus Hygrophorus is one which presents some difficulties in the case of some of the species, especially to beginners, and plants need to be studied in the fresh condition to understand the most important character which separates it from certain of the other white-spored agarics. The substance of the pileus is continuous with that of the stem, that is, the stem is not easily separated from the cap at the point of junction, but is more or less tenacious. The gills may be adnexed, adnate, sinuate, or decurrent, but what is important they are usually rather distant, the edge is acute or sharp, and gradually thickened toward the junction with the cap, so that a section of the gill is more or less triangular. This is brought about by the fact that the substance of the cap extends downward into the gill between the laminae or surfaces of the gill. But the most important character for determining the genus is the fact that the surfaces of the gills become rather of a waxy consistency at maturity, so that they appear to be full of a watery substance though they do not bleed, and the surface of the gill can be rather easily removed, leaving the projecting line of the trama. This is more marked in some species than in others. The waxy consistency of the gills then, with the gills acute at the edge, broad at the point of attachment to the pileus, and the gills being rather widely separated are the important characters in determining the species which belong to this genus. The nearest related genus is Cantharellus, which, however, has blunt and forked gills. A number of the plants are brilliantly colored.
FlGure.115. - Hygrophorus chrysodon. Entirely white with golden yellow granules on cap and stem (natural size). Copyright.
Plate 38, Figure 116
Hygrophorus eburneus. Entirely white, slimy (natural size). Copyright.
Hygrophorus chrysodon (Batsch.) Fries. Edible. - This plant has about the same range as Hygrophorus eburneus, though it is said to be rare. It is a very pretty plant and one quite easily recognized because of the uniform white ground color of the entire plant when fresh, and the numerous golden floccules or squamules scattered over the cap and the stem. The name chrysodon means golden tooth, and refers to these numerous golden flecks on the plant. A form of the plant, variety leucodon, is said to occur in which these granules are white. The plant is 4-7 cm. high, the cap 4-7 cm. broad, and the stem 6-10 mm. in thickness. The plants grow on the ground in the woods, or rather open places, during late summer and autumn.
The pileus is convex, then expanded, the margin strongly involute when young, and unrolling as the cap expands, very viscid, so that particles of dirt and portions of leaves, etc., cling to it in drying. The golden or light yellow granules on the surface are rather numerous near the margin of the pileus, but are scattered over the entire surface. On the margin they sometimes stand in concentric rows close together. The gills are white, distant, decurrent, 3-6 mm. broad, white, somewhat yellowish in age and in drying, and connected by veins. The spores white, oval to ovate, the longer ones approaching elliptical, 6-10 x 5-6 µ.
The stem is soft, spongy within, nearly equal, white, the yellowish granules scattered over the surface, but more numerous toward the apex, where they are often arranged in the form of a ring. When the plant is young these yellow granules or squamules on the stem and the upper surface of the inrolled margin of the pileus meet, forming a continuous layer in the form of a veil, which becomes spread out in the form of separated granules as the pileus expands, and no free collar is left on the stem.
Figure 115 is from plants (No. 3108, C. U. herbarium) collected in October, 1898, in woods, and by roadsides, Ithaca, N. Y.
Hygrophorus eburneus (Bulliard) Fries. Edible. - This plant is widely distributed in Europe and America. It is entirely white, of medium size, very viscid or glutinous, being entirely covered with a coating of gluten, which makes it very slippery in handling. The odor is mild and not unpleasant like that of a closely related species, H. cossus. The plants are 6-15 cm. high, the cap is from 3-8 cm. broad, and the stem 3-8 mm. in thickness. It grows on the ground in woods, or in open grassy places.
The pileus is fleshy, moderately thick, sometimes thin, convex to expanded, the margin uneven or sometimes wavy, smooth, and shining. When young the margin of the cap is incurved. The gills are strongly decurrent, distant, with vein-like elevations near the stem. Spores rather long, oval, 6-10 x 5-6 µ, granular. The stem varies in length, it is spongy to stuffed within, sometimes hollow and tapers below. The slime which envelops the plant is sometimes so abundant as to form a veil covering the entire plant and extending across from the margin of the cap to the stem, covering the gills. As the plant dries this disappears, and does not leave an annulus on the stem.
Figure 116 is from a photograph of plants (No. 2534, C. U. herbarium) collected in Enfield Gorge near Ithaca, N.Y., Nov. 5th, 1898.
Hygrophorus fuligineus. Cap and stem dull reddish brown or smoky brown, very viscid when moist; gills white (natural size). Copyright.
Hygrophorus fuligineus Frost. Edible. - The smoky hygrophorus was described in the 35th Report of the N. Y. State Museum, p. 134. It is an American plant, and was first collected at West Albany, during the month of November. It is one of the largest species of the genus, and grows on the ground in woods, in late autumn. The plants are 5-10 cm. high, the cap from 3-10 cm. broad, and the stem 1-2 cm. in thickness. The large size of the plant together with the smoky, brown, viscid cap aid in the recognition of the plant.
The pileus is convex, becoming expanded, smooth, very viscid, dull reddish brown or smoky brown, darker on the center; the margin of the pileus is even in young specimens, becoming irregular in others; and in age often elevated more or less. The gills are broad, distant, usually decurrent, often connected by veins, white, with yellowish tinge in drying. The spores oval to elliptical, 8-12 x 5-7 µ. The stem is stout, sometimes ascending, equal, or enlarged in the middle, or tapering toward the base, solid, viscid like the pileus, usually white, sometimes tinged with the same color as pileus, somewhat yellowish tinged in drying.
Figure 117 is from plants (No. 2546, C. U. herbarium) collected in Enfield Gorge near Ithaca, Nov. 5, 1898.
Hygrophorus pratensis (Pers.) Fr. Edible. - This hygrophorus grows on the ground in pastures, old fields, or in waste places, or in thin and open woods, from mid-summer to late autumn. The plants are 3-5 cm. high, the cap 2-5 cm. or more broad, and the stem 6-12 mm. in thickness. The cap being thick at the center, and the stem being usually stouter at the apex, often gives to the plant a shape like that of a top.
The pileus is hemispherical, then convex, then nearly or quite expanded, white, or with various shades of yellow or tawny, or buff, not viscid, often cracking in dry weather. Flesh very thick at the center, thinner at the margin. The flesh is firm and white. The gills are stout, distant, long decurrent, white or yellowish, and arcuate when the margin of the pileus is incurved in the young state, then ascending as the pileus takes the shape of an inverted cone. The gills are connected across the interspaces by vein-like folds, or elevations. The spores are nearly globose to ovate or nearly elliptical, white, 6-8 x 5-6 µ. The stem is smooth, firm outside and spongy within, tapering downward.
Hygrophorus miniatus Fr. The vermilion hygrophorus is a very common plant in the woods during the summer. The cap and stem are bright red, sometimes vermilion. The gills are yellow and often tinged with red. The gills are adnate or sinuate. The plant is a small one but often abundant, and measures from 3-5 cm. high, and the cap 2-4 cm. broad. Hygrophorus coccineus (Schaeff.) Fr., is a somewhat larger plant and with a scarlet cap, which becomes yellowish in age, and the gills are adnate. Hygrophorus conicus (Scop.) Fr., is another bright red plant with a remarkable conical pileus, and the gills are annexed to free.
Hygrophorus psittacinus Fr., is a remarkably pretty plant, the cap being from bell-shaped to expanded, umbilicate, striate, and covered with a greenish slime. It occurs in woods and open places. The prevailing color is yellow, tinged with green, but it varies greatly, sometimes yellow, red, white, etc., but nearly always is marked by the presence of the greenish slime, the color of this disappearing as the plant dries. It occurs in pastures, open woods, etc., from midsummer to autumn.
Hygrophorus hypothejus Fr., is another very variable plant in color as well as in size, varying from yellow, orange, reddish, sometimes paler, usually first grayish when covered with the olive colored slime. The gills are decurrent, white, then yellow. It occurs in autumn.