I often have a little scout around the garden if I’m moping about, just to see if there are any interesting little mushrooms popping up in the short grass. I was actually going to mow the lawn. Honest.
‘Small’ is the key word here. In fact ‘very small’ would be a better phrase. I had to bend down, take a real close look, and there it was – a Collared Mosscap (Rickenella swartzii), along with several others scattered about the place, was poking its cap out above the grass languishing in the moist moss that now makes up a lot of my lawn! Good thing too. These tiny mushrooms are very attractive and interesting – and dare I say it? Quite cute.
The usual season for this mushroom is spring to early winter, but I tend to notice them more in late spring, perhaps because of the conditions and shortness of the grass with its mossy undergrowth.
The caps are barely 1cm across at best, and are usually slightly smaller. They are a subtle pale-ochre (or slightly darker ochre-brown) colour, faintly straited with a dark brown centre. At first, the cap is convex, but soon develops a central depression while still maintaining the curved shape.
Pale gills on the underside are widely spaced and extend slightly down the stem (decurrent). It’s at this point (the apex of the stem) that gives this mushroom its common English name. Its ‘collar’, so to speak, is violet (or dark brown with a violet hue) and noticeably much darker than the rest of the pallid ochre stem. This feature is a reliable and distinctive characteristic.Although labelled as inedible due to their tiny size, they are not known to be poisonous but may actually contain very small amounts of psilocybin (a naturally occurring psychedelic compound), so best not to have a taste if you felt the need. Why not take a look around in short grassland and damp mossy areas to see if you can spot any. And I mean have a really good look, because as you can believe, they are very often overlooked.
QUICK ID TABLE: COLLARED MOSSCAP Rickenella swartzii
CAP / FLESH
0.5-1cm across. Ochre-cream or light brown with dark brown centre. Initially slightly rounded then flat with central depression.
2-4cm x 0.1-0.2cm. pale yellowish, violet coloured at apex.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
Decurrent. White or creamy coloured.
HABITAT / SEASON
In moss on grassland in damp places, such as gardens or marshes etc. Late Spring to early Winter.
Too small to be worth eating.