A trip to a relatively close wood nearby produced some interesting finds for me. Many of which were quite small – but always fascinating. And what with the recent hot weather and the odd overnight downpour, my path through the woodland was swarming with hundreds of mosquitos. I took quite a few bites home with me that day!
However, it was worth it eventually to find a small trooping group of Collared Parachutes (Marasmius rotula) just off the beaten path enjoying the conditions on some decaying wood.
Even when grouped together, they’re not that easy to spot as the cap only reaches up to 1.5cm across, but are usually slightly smaller. Once discovered though, you’ll notice their appearance is very unique. This Marasmius species is a prime example of displaying the ‘parachute-like’ shape of the cap.
Initially, the bright white cap is strongly convex and flattens out and often becomes duller with age. The distinctive ribbed surface however, keeps its shape. Mirrored underneath these ribs and grooves are the widely spaced white gills which are attached to a small central collar that is free from the stem – another distinctive feature of this species.
The stem is very thin and fragile but can be very long in relation to the size of the cap. At about 1mm thick, it can stand up to 7cm tall from the mixed substrate of dead wood, twigs and roots on the ground. This group were taking up residence at the base of a rotting log. The stem is paler at the apex where it meets the cap but much darker further down towards the brown/black base.Keep an eye out for them this summer (and all the way through to early winter). Also, if the conditions are warm, take some mosquito spray, or if you have a smart phone there’s actually an App that repels mosquitos. Weird!
QUICK ID TABLE: COLLARED PARACHUTE Marasmius rotula
CAP / FLESH
0.3 – 1.5cm across. Convex/rounded. Central depression. Flatens out. Parachute shape, white (Becoming brownish with age).
2-6.5cm x 0.1cm. Whitish at top. Darker brown/black down towards the base.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
White or Pinkish. Very distant. Connected to a central collar free from the stem.
HABITAT / SEASON
Grows on dead wood (preferably deciduous). Also twigs, roots and sometimes leaves. Summer – winter.
Not edible. Too small and insubstantial.
The Genus MARASMIUS (Parachutes): Characteristics to look out for:
• Small or tiny caps with tall, thin stems.
• Convex ‘umbrella’ or ‘parachute’ shaped caps.