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 volva and annulus are wanting in this genus, and the spores are white. The stem is elastic, spongy within, the outside being elastic or fibrous, so that the fibres hold together well when the stem is twisted or broken, as in Tricholoma. The stem does not separate readily from the pileus, but the rather strong fibres are continuous with the substance of the pileus. The gills are narrowed toward the stem, joined squarely or decurrent (running down on the stem), very rarely some of them notched at the stem while others of the same plant are decurrent. In one species at least (C. laccata, by some placed in the genus Laccana) the gills are often strongly notched or sinuate. The cap is usually plane, depressed, or funnel-shaped, many of the species having the latter form. The plants grow chiefly on the ground, though a number of species occur on dead wood. The genus contains a very large number of species. Peck describes ten species in the 23rd Report, N. Y. State Mus., p. 76, et. seq., also 48th Report, p. 172, several species. Morgan, Jour. Cinn. Soc. Nat. Hist. 6:70-73, describes 12 species.
Clitocybe Candida Bres. Edible. - This is one of the large species of the genus. It occurs in late autumn in Europe. It has been found on several occasions during late autumn at Ithaca, N. Y., on the ground in open woods, during wet weather. It occurs in clusters, though the specimens are usually not crowded. The stem is usually very short, 2-4 cm. long, and 2-3 cm. in thickness, while the cap is up to 10-18 cm. broad.
The pileus is sometimes regular, but often very irregular, and produced much more strongly on one side than on the other. It is convex, then expanded, the margin first incurved and finally wavy and often somewhat lobed. The color is white or light buff in age. The flesh is thick and white. The gills are white, stout, broad, somewhat decurrent, some adnate.
The taste is not unpleasant when raw, and when cooked it is agreeable. I have eaten it on several occasions. Figures 90, 91 are from plants (No. 4612 C. U. herbarium) collected at Ithaca.
Clitocybe laccata Scop. Edible. - This plant is a very common and widely distributed one, growing in woods, fields, roadsides and other waste places. It is usually quite easily recognized from the whitish scurfy cap, the pink or purplish gills, though the spores are white, from the gills being either decurrent, adnate, or more or less strongly notched, and the stem fibrous and whitish or of a pale pink color. When the plants are mature the pale red or pink gills appear mealy from being covered with the numerous white spores.
The pileus is thin, convex or later expanded, of a watery appearance, nearly smooth or scurfy or slightly squamulose. The spores are rounded, and possess spine-like processes, or are prominently roughened. In the warty character of the spores this species differs from most of the species of the genus Clitocybe, and some writers place it in a different genus erected to accommodate the species of Clitocybe which have warty or spiny spores. The species with spiny spores are few. The genus in which this plant is placed by some is Laccaria, and then the plant is called Laccaria laccata. There are several other species of Clitocybe which are common and which one is apt to run across often, especially in the woods. These are of the funnel form type, the cap being more or less funnel-shaped. Clitocybe infundibuli formis Schaeffer is one of these. The cap, when mature, is pale red or tan color, fading out in age. It is 5-7 cm. high, and the cap 2-4 cm. broad. It is considered delicious. Clitocybe cyathiformis, as its name indicates, is similar in form, and occurs in woods. The pileus is of a darker color, dark brown or smoky in color.
Clitocybe illudens Schw. Not Edible. - This species is distributed through the Eastern United States and sometimes is very abundant. It occurs from July to October about the bases of old stumps, dead trees, or from underground roots. It is one of the large species, the cap being 15-20 cm. broad, the stem 12-20 cm. long, and 8-12 mm. in thickness. It occurs in large clusters, several or many joined at their bases. From the rich saffron yellow color of all parts of the plant, and especially by its strong phosphorescence, so evident in the dark, it is an easy plant to recognize. Because of its phosphorescence it is sometimes called "Jack-my-lantern."
The pileus is convex, then expanded, and depressed, sometimes with a small umbo, smooth, often irregular or eccentric from its crowded habit, and in age the margin of the pileus is wavy. The flesh is thick at the center and thin toward the margin. In old plants the color becomes sordid or brownish. The gills are broad, not crowded, decurrent, some extending for a considerable distance down on the stem while others for a less distance. The stem is solid, firm, smooth, and tapers toward the base.
While the plant is not a dangerously poisonous one, it has occasioned serious cases of illness, acting as a violent emetic, and of course should be avoided. Its phosphorescence has often been observed. Another and much smaller plant, widely distributed in this country as well as Europe, and belonging to another genus, is also phosphorescent. It is Panus stipticus, a small white plant with a short lateral stem, growing on branches, stumps, trunks, etc. When freshly developed the phosphorescence is marked, but when the plants become old they often fail to show it.
Clitocybe illudens. Entire plant rich saffron yellow, old plants become sordid brown sometimes; when fresh shows phosphorescence at night (2/3 natural size, often much larger). Copyright.
Clitocybe muhiceps Peck. Edible. - This plant is not uncommon during late summer and autumn. It usually grows in large tufts of 10 to 30 or more individuals. The caps in such large clusters are often irregular from pressure. The plants are 6-12 cm. high, the caps 5-10 cm. broad, and the stems 8-15 mm. in thickness. The pileus is white or gray, brownish gray or buff, smooth, dry, the flesh white. The gills are white, crowded, narrow at each end. The spores are smooth, globose, 5-7 µ in diameter. The stems are tough, fibrous, solid, tinged with the same color as cap. Fig. 93 is from plants (No. 5467, C. U. herbarium) collected at Ithaca, October 14, 1900.