It’s Miller time!

There’s a small stretch of coniferous woodland close to where I live, and over the years I have never seen such a variation of mushrooms, toadstools and fungi in such a relatively small place. Great stuff!

Clitopilus prunulusAnd today was no disappointment either. Poking out of above the leaves in a small clearing were the caps of a small group of Miller mushrooms (Clitopilus prunulus).

This was the first time I’d seen them here and I needed to check all characteristics of this wonderfully edible mushroom (as I always do) but especially this time as they were very close to the woodland/grassland border. The poisonous Fool’s Funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa) – a grassland species – is a sinister looking double for our tasty Miller mushroom.

The Miller has a pink spore print, so I also needed to be aware of confusion with other poisonous species with the same feature. For example, the Livid Pinkgill (Entoloma sinuatum), although not looking too similar, is quite an unpleasant toadstool.

The main identification markers were all there (see ID table below) – the size, the wavy irregular shape, the soft leathery (kid glove) texture, decurrent gills (that came away easily from the stem and cap), and of course the strong floury (mealy), raw pastry odour were all unmistakable.

The gills of this mushroom are initially white, then change to a mild pink colour as they mature (hence the pink spore print mentioned earlier). But to be on the safe side, I would always recommend you take a spore print (see how to make a spore print), just as I did, to doubly make sure.

Unfortunately these beauties were being systematically killed off inside from larvae infestation. They started at the base, munched up the stem and into the cap. I’m not sure if this killed off the spores developing properly or all spores had been shed (which I’m not convinced about), but not even a single spore had dropped to make any kind of print. Needless to say, I didn’t eat them, but then I couldn’t anyway – maggot munchies anyone!?

There should be more elsewhere or on the way soon. They can be found in small groups, and interestingly have some biological link with Ceps (Boletus edulis), so take a look around to see if there are any nearby. Good luck…

Miller mushroom - Clitopilus prunulus

The Miller (Clitopilus prunulus). Notice the wavy, irregular shape of the cap.

QUICK ID TABLE: THE MILLER Clitopilus prunulus


3-10cm across. Convex then irregular and wavy. Soft leather feel. Inrolled margin. White to cream in colour.


1.5cm x 0.4-1.2cm. Same colour as cap. Usually off-centre attachment to cap.


Decurrent. White then pink. Easily removed.
Spore Print: Pink (see how to take a spore print here).


Grass in open woodland. Summer – late autumn.


Edible and good.

Freckled Fungus – The Spotted Toughshank

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.

Collybia maculataBut 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’.

Collybia maculata

See the speckles? The typical brown spots on the white cap of the Spotted Toughshank.

QUICK ID TABLE: BUTTER CAP Collybia butyracea / Rhodocollybia butyracea


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’.


Free, white and crowded. Brown spots appear with age.
Spore Print: Cream to pale pink (see how to take a spore print here).


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.
• No ring or volva present.
• Gills often crowded / never decurrent.