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Images of British Lichens

Lichenomphalia alpina (Britzelm.) Redhead, Lutzoni, Moncalvo & Vilgalys
(= Omphalina alpina (Britzelm.) Bresinsky & Stangl;
Omphalina flava (Cooke) M.Lange;
Omphalina luteovitellina (Pilát & Nannf.) M.Lange;
Botrydina luteovitellina (Pilát & Nannf.) Redhead & Kuyper;
Phytoconis luteovitellina (Pilát & Nannf.) Redhead & Kuyper)

A basidiolichen with the thallus a finely granular algal mat (granules generally less than 100 µm diameter fide Redhead & Kuyper, 1987) in a hyphal matrix ('Botrydina' type thallus), and a toadstool for the fruitbody: cap omphalioid, usually bright yellow, rarely paler, somwhat waxy in appearance, with a striate to sulcate, crenulate margin, gills paler, decurrent, stipe concolorous with cap, typically 1–2 × cap diameter, surface ± smooth to very minutely tomemtose, white-strigose at base. Microscopically the tissues lack clamp connections, gill trama of narrow, thin-walled, bidirectionally branched hyphae, spores ± colourless, narrowly ellipsoid to cylindrical, often centrally constricted, (6.5–)7–13.5(–16)×(3.5–)4–5.5(–6.5) µm (measurements from Elborne, 2008). On seasonally wet, bare peat, generally at higher altitudes, where it can be common, but very occasionally at lower altitudes in exposed situations (records on the NBN Gateway from the New Forest are, however, surprising, see below).

Refs: Elborne (2008), 224, (2012), 294; Smith et al. (2009), 554; Purvis et al. (1992), 404 (as O. luteovitellina); Favre (1955), 43, plate IV,4 (colour illustration, as Omphalia flava); Phillips (1981), 69 (photo, as O. luteovitellina); Phillips (2006), 79 (photo); Ryman & Holmåson (1984), 258-9 (photo, as O. luteovitellina); Stenroos et al. (2011) 257 (photo); Breitenbach & Kränzlin (1991), 190-1 (photo, as Gerronema alpinum); Gulden et al. (1985), 15 (photo, as Omphalina alpina). [The colour illustration in Buczacki et al. (2012) shows basal squamules! If painted from life it is a yellow variant of L. hudsoniana (see below), otherwise a fabrication.]

Generally a distinctive species, but can be confused with yellow variants of L. hudsoniana, which differs macroscopically in its minutely, but densely pubescent stipe and its association with a discoid ('Coriscium') thallus. Also very simlar are the non-lichenised agarics, Hygrocybe ceracea and the rare H. citrinopallida, which can occur in moorland turf on peaty soil; either might easily fruit through an algal mat. Any lowland record should be checked especially carefully.

Lichenomphalia alpina
Material from damp peat near the summit, Ben Loyal, West Sutherland, 1985

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© A.J. Silverside
Uploaded January 2011, last updated August 2013