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Images of British Lichens

Lichenomphalia velutina (Quél.) Redhead, Lutzoni, Moncalvo & Vilgalys
(= Omphalina velutina (Quél.) Quél.;
Phytoconis velutina (Quél.) Redhead & Kuyper;
Botrydina velutina (Quél.) Redhead & Kuyper;
? Lichenomphalia pararustica (Clémençon) Elborne;
? Omphalina grisella (P.Karst.) M.M.Moser)

A basidiolichen with the thallus a finely granular algal mat in a hyphal matrix ('Botrydina' type thallus), the thallus hyphae very narrow, 2-3 µm diameter (various authors), and a toadstool for the fruitbody: cap omphalioid, umbilicate, 0.5–1(–1.5) mm diameter, at first umber-brown to red-brown or grey-brown, sooty brown when damp, darker in the depressed centre, when mature with a striate to sulcate or fluted crenulate margin and fading to pale clay-brown, gills ± brown-pallid to grey-brown, strongly decurrent, stipe brown and remaining so with age, 1–3 × cap diameter, surface minutely but densely pubescent, white-strigose at base. Microscopically the tissues lack clamp connections, gill trama of narrow, thin-walled, bidirectionally branched hyphae, basidia usually 2-spored; spores colourless, predominantly ellipsoid to tear-drop shaped, 7–10(–11)×(3–)4–6 µm (measurements from Elborne, 2008). On peat and peaty soil, or well rotted wood, widespread and frequent but much overlooked in degraded moorland and heathland, both lowland and upland.

Refs: Elborne (2008), 223, (2012), 293; Smith et al. (2009), 555; Purvis et al. (1992), 403 (as Omphalina); Stenroos et al. (2011) 260 (photo); Buczacki et al. (2012), 198-9 (colour illustration, but rather poor); Favre (1955), 44, plate IV,6 (colour illustration, as Omphalia grisella); Gulden & Jenssen (1988), 35 (photo, as Omphalina); Barrasa & Rico (2001), 382-384 (description, somewhat understating colour variation, photomicrographs, as Omphalina); Barrasa et al. (2009), Lichenologist 41: 204 (photo).

L. pararustica is treated as a synonym of L. velutina in recent British literature but is given separate recognition by Elborne (2008, 2012). He describes it as a smaller species, cap 3-7mm diameter, with thicker gills, narrower spores and 4-spored basida — a description much the same as the recognition of this species by Orange & Watling in Purvis et al. (1992) (as O. pararustica). It is uncertain whether it is indeed a separate taxon and, if so, whether the few British records are correctly assigned (or refer to L. velutina with 4-spored basidia?).

A number of small, omphalioid, brown, non-lichenised agarics, mostly now placed in the genus Arrhenia, occur on bare, peaty soil and not uncommonly fruit through algal mats on the soil surface, and need microscopic examination for accurate determination. Of these, A. velutipes is closely similar to L. velutina and is not uncommon in similar habitats. Microscopically it has clamp connections on the basidia and hyphae of the cap cuticle. See, also, Arrhenia peltigerina.

Lichenomphalia velutina
Lichenomphalia velutina, mature and fading
On degraded montane peat, the Cairnwell, South Aberdeenshire, August 2008, the lower photograph showing an older, fading fruitbody
Lichenomphalia velutina
On bare, peaty soil of upland riverbank, Nenthead, Cumberland, August 2012

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Uploaded January 2011, last updated August 2013