Macrolepiota Procera: Characteristics, Morphology, Habitat

Macrolepiota procera is a multicellular, edible fungus belonging to the Basidiomycota group. Their common names are parasol mushroom, damper mushroom, galamperna, cucurril, matacandil, among others. 

It is a common fungus in well-drained soils, appearing to grow singly or in groups, in grasslands and sometimes in woody tree forests. The total height of M. procera can reach 40 cm, impressive size for a mushroom.

Figure 1. Macrolepiota procera in juvenile and adult stages. Source: Chrumps [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Article index

  • one

    Characteristics

    • 1.1

      Morphology

  • two

    Habitat and distribution

  • 3

    Nutrition

  • 4

    Reproduction

  • 5

    Preservation

  • 6

    Possible confusion in your identification

  • 7

    Other common names of Macrolepiota procera

  • 8

    References

Characteristics

Morphology

Pileus or hat

Figure 2. Macrolepiota procera, the scales on the hat, the zigzag pattern of the foot and the double ring are observed. Source: George Chernilevsky [Public domain]

The M. procera fungus has a fleshy, light brown cap, the shape of which varies with age; since in juvenile age it is hemispherical, convex, ovoid and closed; while in adulthood it is flattened, open and takes the shape of an umbrella or parasol. It can reach a considerable diameter between 12 cm and 40 cm.

The hat of M. procera has thick, dark brown scales with a concentric arrangement, which can be easily removed, and a dark brown umbon in the center.

The blades are wide, free, soft, have white lamellae with pink tints, and are closely arranged.

The cuticle of the hat is greyish-white, fibrous, easily separable from the meat and has scales. The edge of the cuticle appears broken, with scallops.

Stipe, peduncle or foot

M. procera has a long, thin, straight, cylindrical and hollow foot, which reaches its full height before the hat opens and flattens. It has a length of 15 to 40 cm and a diameter of 1 to 1.5 cm. It has a bulb-shaped broadening at its base.

The foot of Macrolepiota procera is easily detachable from the hat and features a dark, double ring. The foot is fibrous from its base to the annulus and has brown zigzag transverse lines. From the ring to the hat it is smooth, beige. The ring is also covered with small brown scales equal to those of the hat.

Spores

The spores of the fungus M. procera have an ellipsoidal shape and a germinating pore; they are relatively large, 15-20 μ in length and 10-12 μ, smooth and white in color. The basidia have 4 spores.

Constitutive tissue or flesh

The meat of M. procera’s hat is white in color and elastic in texture. When cut, it turns slightly pink. It has a pleasant smell, similar to that of walnuts and an exquisite delicate flavor. The meat of the foot, on the other hand, is fibrous in texture and of little consistency. Only the meat of the hat is consumed and marketed.

Habitat and distribution

The M. procera fungus is a fairly common species that can bear fruit in many habitats. It lives preferably in humid areas with well-drained soils, places with average height above sea level, where grasses, grasslands, meadows, forest clearings, meadows, lawns, ditches and roadsides grow.

It is widely distributed in the temperate climate zones of the planet; It is found throughout the European continent, including island areas such as England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Nutrition

M. procera is a saprophytic living fungus, it feeds on animal excrement, leaves and decomposing organic matter (detritus), which are found in the soil of its habitats.

As a decomposing fungus, it plays a fundamental role in the matter cycle of the ecosystems where it lives, since it decomposes waste organic matter and recycles it into simpler compounds that return to the producing organisms in assimilable forms.

Reproduction

The fungus M. procera exhibits sexual reproduction. Germinative spores (basidiospores) originate through this type of reproduction in basidia; structures located in the lamellae on the lamellae inside the hat. These spores are externally produced by basidia.

When the basidiospore falls into a suitable medium, it can germinate and hyphae emerge from it. The hyphae are similar to white threads, which grow in the excrement or detritus, penetrating it and forming the mycelium (set of hyphae), which quickly forms the complete mushroom.

In the species M. procera and in all the fungi belonging to the Basidiomycota phylla, the developed mycelium presents somatic vegetative hyphae but they can be mating compatible hyphae. When the fungus has reached enough development it enters the reproductive stage.

When two compatible hyphae of the reproductive fungus come into contact, they fuse and unite their cytoplasms; This process is called somatogamy-type plasmogamy.

By joining these two compatible hyphae and also joining their nuclei (karyogamy), a new mycelium is produced, where each cell has a diploid nucleus (2n, with two series or sets of chromosomes).

Subsequently, meiosis-like cell division occurs that produces 4 haploid cells (1n, with a single set of chromosomes in their nucleus) that transform into 4 germinative spores. Nucleus fusion and meiosis with the formation of basidiospores occur in basidia.

Once the basidospore spores are formed, the reproductive cycle of M. procera is restarted .

Preservation

In view of the fact that the part of the fungus that is consumed as food is only the hat, it is recommended as an effective measure for its preservation only to cut the hat when harvesting it.

In this way, harvesting must consist of cutting the fungus above ground level, without pulling it out completely, so that it can grow again and survive.

Possible confusion in your identification

Macrolepiota procera can be confused with other species of fungi belonging to the genus Lepiota, which are very similar but smaller in size. Mushrooms of the genus Lepiota are toxic and this confusion can lead to health problems if ingested. It is therefore advisable not to collect mushrooms whose cap has a diameter of less than 12 cm and is not fully developed and flat.

There are three other species belonging to the genus Macrolepiota  that can be confused with M. procera . The so-called Macrolepiota rhacodes  is toxic and closely resembles M. procera .

The two species differ by the fact that the scales of M. rhacodes are arranged radially on the hat, while the scales of M. procera appear concentric.

Additionally, when the fungus is cut, the inner part of the foot of M. rhacodes is pink or copper-colored, and that of M. procera is cream-colored. The size of M. rhacodes is smaller, reaching a maximum size of 20 cm.

Another species similar to M.procera is the Macrolepiota mastoidea fungus ; They can be differentiated in that the latter presents a simple ring and the umbon or mamelon is more prominent than M. procera.

Extreme care must be taken with the Macrolepiota venenata fungus , a highly poisonous species that is also large in size, with a hat with a diameter greater than 15 cm, but which has radially distributed hat scales.

Other common names of Macrolepiota procera

The Macrolepiota procera mushroom is designated with many common or colloquial names depending on the locality, that is, these names are only used in a particular region. The denomination of parasol is the most widespread, but there are other common names to designate this fungus such as: galamperna, quencher, candelabrum. In the English language it is called ” parasol mushroom “, which means parasol mushroom.

References

  1. Alexopoulus, CJ, Mims, CW and Blackwell, M. Editors. (nineteen ninety six). Introductory Mycology. 4th Edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
  2. Dighton, J. (2016). Fungi Ecosystem Processes. 2nd Edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
  3. Falandysz, J., Sapkota, A., Dryżałowska, A., Mędyk, M. and Feng, X: (2017). Analysis of some metallic elements and metalloids composition and relationships in parasol mushroom Macrolepiota procera . Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 24 (18): 15528-15537. doi: 10.1007 / s11356-017-9136-9
  4. Kavanah, K. Editor. (2017). Fungi: Biology and Applications. New York: John Wiley
  5. Kułdo, E., Jarzyńska, G., Gucia, M. and Falandysz, J. (2014). Mineral constituents of edible parasol mushroom Macrolepiota procera (Scop. Ex Fr.) Sing and soils beneath its fruiting bodies collected from a rural forest area. Chemical Papers. 68 (4): 484-492. doi: 10.2478 / s11696-013-0477-7

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