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Lepiota cristata
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Lepiota cristata

Common Name: Malodorous Lepiota

Synonyms: 

Substrate: Ground; Leaf litter

Location: Forest

Spore Color: White

Gill Color: White

Comments: 

I often see this as a fairly small mushroom, although it can get up to 2 inches across. The ones in the first picture below are just over an inch in height, and a cap just over a half inch. As with all Lepiotas, look for a white gills, free gills, and a ring around the stem. The ring on the stem often falls off with these, however, so it may not be visible in most of the specimens you find.  The center of the cap is a pinkish-red color that forms a solid disc in the center. The color fades as you move out to the margin. They often fruit in small troops, so where there is one, you are likely to find more nearby.

The scales on the first picture were orange-brown when fresh, drying to a light brown color. In this specimen below, the central part of the cuticle (scale) was unbroken, and the margin of the cuticle was uplifted (even in young specimens). The raised margin on the scales may not be the norm, and is likely due to its growth in full sun in the grass.

Lincoff (1981) mentions a distinctive smell to the gills, thus the common name listed.

Keep in mind that this should also be thought of as a species cluster, so the DNA may reveal more species masquerading under this name.

Miller (2006) separates L. cristata from L. subincarnata based on the color of the red on the cap. Red-brown = L. subincarnata. Orange-Brown = L. cristata.

Lookalikes:

Lepiota lilacea is very similar, but the best field ID to tell it apart is L. lilacea will have a dark red underside to the ring on the stem. Lepiota castanea is another similar mushroom. It is usually found in a woodland setting as well as L. cristataL. castanea will usually not have a uniform disk over the center, but will likely have individual scales forming a darkened center. It is usually more of a darker brown color.  Lepiota clypeolaria has a of a shaggy stalk. Lepiota rubrotincta is also similar, but is larger and usually has a darker red color.

Lepiota cristata

9/28/11 - Paynetown SRA - Lake Monroe, IN 

Lepiota cristata

10/8/11 - Tippecanoe Battlefield - Battleground, IN - Bullet Spores

Lepiota cristata

Lepiota cristata

8/25/12 - Racoon Lake SRA - Rockville, IN

Lepiota cristata

9/16/12 - Leonard Springs - Bloomington, IN

Lepiota cristata

This may not be L. cristata. Did not scope for a confirmation. I now have doubts. Maybe L. subincarnata or something else.

Paynetown SRA - Lake Monroe, IN - 9/29/11

 

Other Sightings:

8/28/12 - Shades State Park - Rockville, IN
9/15/12 - McCormicks Creek SP - Spencer, IN 
10/8/11 - Tippecanoe Battlefield - Battleground, IN