Prospekt Flora, Intresting facts

Photo 1. Gills running slightly down the stem is one of the features of the scurfy twiglet. (Photo by Ruben Knežević)

SCURFY TWIGLET (Tubaria furfuracea = T. hiemalis)

The relatively mild winter weather and a period of abundant rain in the first half of January 2016 have caused the fruiting bodies of several species of fungi to emerge in grassy habitats alongside ponds. Some mushrooms we found on Krk Island and others, in areas around Rijeka. Our attention was especially drawn to the small fruiting bodies of Tubaria sp. which we spotted on Sulinj Peninsula (Krk Island) and in a part of Rijeka called Rujevica. The photos that we would like to share with the readers of the section “Interesting Features of Nature” were taken in Rujevica.

Because some Tubaria species appear early in the year, usually in winter, we chose those mushrooms to be the “first” in 2016.  As the scurfy twiglet (Tubaria furfuracea = T. hiemalis), in particular, appears at the end of autumn or in winter, it is very likely that this is indeed the species we found. To identify the exact species with greater certainty would have required using methods (primarily microscopic examination of spores and other micro structures) that were not available to us.

Up to date, some 15 species of the genus Tubaria are known in Europe, and it is estimated there are about 60 species worldwide. The mushrooms of the genus Tubaria are saprophytes, and they grow on soil or on plant debris. Their spore print colour (a spore print is obtained when the cap is placed gill down on a piece of paper) is brown. Spore prints are one of the major characteristics used in classifying mushrooms into basic groups. Although the genus Tubaria is commonly placed in the family Crepidotaceae, some experts place it in the family Strophariaceae, and others, in the family Cortinariaceae. Recent genetic methods, however, indicate that the genus is perhaps not a monophyletic group.

Although mushrooms of the genus Tubaria have exceptionally small fruiting bodies and are not interesting to mushroom pickers*, they nevertheless have a role to play in ecosystems and contribute to the diversity of the living world. Hence, they need to be studied, and their habitats, preserved as much as possible.

(*David Arora, North American writer and author of the well-known book “Mushrooms Demystified” classifies Tubaria mushrooms into “little brown mushrooms” (LBMs). LBMs cause researchers considerable trouble and pickers tend to sidestep or overlook them. Most LBMs can be found in the genera Inocybe, Tubaria, Galerina, Pholiota, Cortinarius and others.)

Thematic units: Interesting Features of Nature, Plant Life and Fungi

Keywords: Tubaria, Crepidotaceae, “winter” mushrooms, Krk Island, Rijeka’s environs

Link to related topics on the Web pages of “Priroda”:

HIDDEN WORLDS – Cobweb-like fungal mycelia in spots of melting snow (http://www.ju-priroda.hr/zanimljivosti.asp?id=2zanimljivosti/svjetovi/1-snjezne-plijesni.html)

Marko Randić (PIP), Ruben Knežević and Ervin Raguzin (Mycological Association “Ožujka”)

Photo 2. Topside of the cap of a scurfy twiglet. In wet weather the distribution and position of the gills can be seen through the membrane and thin flesh of the cap. (Photo by Ruben Knežević)