Although this is a very common species of mushroom, I don’t come across them that often. Even though mainly white in colour they always seem to be hiding under bracken or disguise themselves in similar woodland undergrowth.
But once seen, never forgotten, the Spotted Toughshank (Collybia maculata / Rhodocollybia maculata*) is a nice looking, creamy white, chocolate sprinkled mushroom. Although I should really say Toadstool as it is inedible (tough and bitter) and there really isn’t any chocolate involved! If only…
I found this lovely group of ‘toughshanks’ (common name) in some mixed woodland, near the edge of a grassy woodland path hiding in the undergrowth. They can be found in both deciduous and coniferous woodland but they tend to favour coniferous trees – like this group.
The caps are initially a clean with a (slightly creamy) white colour, but soon develop brown spots or freckles on the cap. These tan brown spots can sometimes merge or not be as contrasty against the white cap, so it may sometimes appear as one blended brown patch, especially at the centre. When younger the caps are dome shaped but flatten out with age and sometimes get wavy at the edges.
On the underside the crowded gills (free from the stem) are also white and, in a similar fashion to the cap, become spotted dark brown with age.
The stem is also a great identification marker too. As with all Collybia species, the ‘shank’ is tough, fibrous and flexible. None of this genus have rings present either. As you see in the pictures they can also grow quite tall (up to 12cm), markings are similar to the cap, but mainly white and the longer stems can sometimes be slightly routing.
So be on the lookout anytime this summer to late autumn. They’re out there, but also like to to hide! See the extra ID notes below for further information…
*Note: To date, some members of the Collybia family have been moved to new genera due to DNA research and some may have different names. ‘Collybia maculata’ still seems to be currently used here and there, but technically speaking it is ‘Rhodocollybia maculata’.
QUICK ID TABLE: BUTTER CAP Collybia butyracea / Rhodocollybia butyracea
CAP / FLESH
3-10cm across. First domed then flattened slightly. Creamy white, developing brown spotted markings on the surface.
5-10cm x 0.7-1.5cm. Similar colour to cap. Sometimes ‘rooting’.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
Free, white and crowded. Brown spots appear with age.
HABITAT / SEASON
In all woodland. In undergrowth or bracken on heath land. Summer – late autumn.
Not edible. Too tough and bitter.
The Genus COLLYBIA (Toughshanks); RHODOCOLLYBIA taxonomy for this species: Characteristics to look out for:
• Tough, fibrous/flexible stems.