Observation 46000: Limacella Earle

When: 2010-05-27

Collection location: Alice Eaves Scenic Reserve, Orewa, Auckland, New Zealand [Click for map]

Who: Michael W (Michael Wallace)

No specimen available

Habit Single, occasionally in pairs.
Habitat On soil under Vitex lucens, Rhopalostylis sapida, Agathis australis, Dysoxylum spectabile, Cyathea dealbata and Beilschmiedia tarairi.
Pileus 45-60mm in diameter, convex to plano-convex, pale yellowish brick-brown darker towards the disk, viscid to glutinous when wet, finely pubescent on drying, pigmented cells of the pileipellis splitting in aged specimens showing white flesh underneath, margin non-sulcate, exceeding lamellae and appendiculate in young specimens.
Lamellae Close, free, subventricose in mature specimens, white to pale cream or buff, margin entire, wavy in mature specimens.
Stipe 50-70 × 7-15mm, tapering from base to apex, subclavate, solid, cartilaginous, white to pale buff concolourous with lamellae, annulus central, arachnoid, fugacious and only visible in young specimens, remnants of a membranous universal veil on pileus margin and just above the stipe base in young specimens, concolourous with pileus but slightly more yellow.
Spores in mass white, 5-6 × 5-6µm, on average 5.5 × 5.3µm, average Q=1.06, subglobose with a conspicuous hilar appendage up to 1 µm long, hyaline, punctate.
Basidia clavate, 32 × 6.5µm, 4 spored.
Cheilocystidia and pleurocystidia absent, hymenophoral trama divergent.
Pileipellis an ixotrichoderm consisting of cylindrical and inflated gelatinised elements encrusted with a yellowish-brown pigment, 20-35 × 5-12µm, clamp connections present.
Acrophysalidic cells of the stipe context cylindrical, clamp connections present, average length and width 176.6 × 20µm.

[admin – Sat Aug 14 02:04:13 +0000 2010]: Changed location name from ‘Orewa, Auckland, New Zealand.’ to ‘Orewa, Auckland, New Zealand’


Spores at 1000x magnification.
Basidia at 1000x magnification.
Terminal cells of the pileipellis at 1000x magnification.
Divergent hymenophoral trama at 400x magnification, scale divisions=2.5µm.
Acrophysalidic cells of the stipe context at 400x magnification, scale divisions=2.5µm.

Proposed Names

36% (2)
Recognized by sight
74% (2)
Recognized by sight

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Add Comment
I will now assume that the edges of the gills are fertile…
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-06-01 06:51:33 PDT (-0700)

I think you’ve demonstrated that you definitely have a Limacella. Very, very interesting! It’s too bad the Limacella literature is so limited and scattered.

Onward and upward.


Hi Rod,
By: Michael W (Michael Wallace)
2010-05-31 23:34:59 PDT (-0700)

I have added some micrographs of the gill trama and stipe context and completed the list of trees in the area even though these are most likely not associates of this particular mushroom.

I have corrected the Q value, one of the spores I measured was shorter from the hilar appendage to the apex than it was wide so I had the measurements for that spore listed as 5 × 5.5µm so when I divided the two measurements I got 0.9.

The cells in the stipe context are quite variable in length, I measured 15 cells to get the average length and width of 176.6 × 20µm, the longest cell I measured was 402.5 × 25µm and the shortest was 75 × 15µm.

The only literature I have read on the Genus is Geoff Ridley’s description for L. whereoparaonea but I will hunt down and read as much information as I can!

Q value less than 1.
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-05-29 06:55:31 PDT (-0700)

Be careful. Q values should not come out less than one. Nearly round spores that are not in lateral view can be very tricky to interpret. It is a royal pain to measure globose to subglobose spores. My suggestion is take your time and reject spores that are not absolutely clearly in lateral view. This will produce the most cleanly reproducible results in spore size and shape.

Very best,


Sleep is good….
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-05-29 06:52:02 PDT (-0700)

My brain does a lot of processing in my sleep…at least, I sometimes wake up with new thoughts about whatever problem I was dealing with the previous day.


The stipe tissue:

Lift off a thin slice of surface tissue from a spot on the stipe (say at about mid-height of the stipe). It is important to remove the surface tissue because the percentage of acrophysalides and their size both diminish as one approaches the surface. Also, characters that are limited to the surface (gelatinization of the tissue in Amanita; the presence of “slime-retaining hyphae” analogous to the vertical hyphae on the pileus surface in Limacella) can cause confusion.

Also avoid material in or on the surface of the central cylinder in a hollow or stuffed stipe because it is also NOT typical of the main part of the stipe context.

In the Amanitaceae, the stipe has a distinct “grain.” Because the large majority of the hyphae and all of the acrophysalides are longitudinally aligned in the stipe, a scalpel or razor will slip rather easily through the tissue if you cut directly up or directly down the stipe. Make s few sections from within the context of the stipe in this manner. If they are two thin, you will know because you will have broken all the acrophysalides. Use dissecting needles to tease the very compact tissue apart (thi also, unfortunately, breaks acrophysalides. You may have to make several tries to get a good look at a distinct and unbroken acrophysalides. In Limacella they may be more likely to be in terminal chains than singly terminal. This characteristic they share with the “basal,” nonmycorrhizal Amanita species of aubsection Vittadiniae Bas.

Congo Red or another cell-wall stain is strongly recommended for viewing acrophysalides.

Possible confusions regarding the cell surface: There may be hyphae on the stipe surface that are analogous to the vertical hyphae on the pileus. Their tip cells should not be confused with the acrophysalides of the stipe interior.

I would be very interested to know what references you have concerning Limacella in general. The “dry-stemmed” European species were recently treated by Andreas Gminder. The illustrations and some of the observations of the big Neville and Poumarat book on the European Amanitaceae [they misinterpretted recent molecular results and say “Pluteaceae” and treat the Amanitaceae as a tribus (Amaniteae)] are also of interest. I find that you will need to form your own opinions. The mass of world Limacella data lacks methodological consistency (BIG TIME!) and is full of holes from the point of view who is trying to gain a clear systematic view. Gminder’s addition of a third division of the genus is very important in my opinion. I believe that Amanitellae represents a small remnant of taxa most similar to the ancestry of Amanita. Of course, Limacella as a whole is probably a tiny (?less than 50 taxa?) remnant of what may have been a “northern continent” fungal grouping. Of course, there is the possibility that desertification of Australia largely wiped out any Gondwana limacellas.

There is one proposed species of Limacella recently described from Australia, but the description is short and includes cystidia; hence, I have some doubts about the taxon really belonging in Limacella.

There has not yet been a Bas for Limacella, and the majority of the taxa are very rarely collected. A CHALLENGE!

Very best,


Nomarski Interference Contrast,
By: Michael W (Michael Wallace)
2010-05-28 22:35:12 PDT (-0700)

No I don’t have access to this type of scope unfortunately, I do see what you mean about my images, what I have been trying to do is get the outer margin of the spore in focus for the purpose of accurate measurements, I could try bringing the focus back a bit to maybe get a better view of the ornamentation, the ornamentation was obvious first hand through the scope but the micrographs don’t show it as well, I’ll add some images tomorrow.

The longest terminal cell of the pileipellis that I measured was 35 × 5.5µm and the widest was 22 × 12µm, I could measure more as I only measured 7 and may not have got a very accurate final measurement of the majority of the cells.

Could you give me a brief description of what type of section I should make to best view the acrophysalidic cells if they are present in the stipe?

I’m sorry, I didn’t realise it was so late there, it’s 5:30pm here:)
I’ll add as much information as I can and will go back to the location as I’m sure there are more specimens and I would like to get some more images of the mature specimens in their habitat.


Other stuff from my crude compilation of info on limacellas…
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-05-28 22:27:11 PDT (-0700)

Many taxa have do data recorded for things like the range of width of the terminal cells of the vertical pileus hyphae. For those that do, none in section Limacella has a value very close to the maximum value you give (12 microns). I have a few N. American species (possibly undescribed) with terminal cells up to 13. microns wide. I wish that one could conclude from this that you have or haven’t found an imported European taxon; however, the available data is too sparse. I looked through the more complete data on spore sizes and came up with two southeast Asian taxa in section Limacella with spores of about the size you reported: A. anomologa and A. asperospora…if I remember correctly, one was described from Sri Lanka and the other was described from Singapore.

OMG. It’s 1:30 am, and I was going to go to bed at a “reasonable hour” tonight.

Very best,


Warted spores…
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-05-28 22:07:16 PDT (-0700)

Do you have access to a scope with Nomarski Interference Contrast? You get a good artificial 3D image with that tool. Your photographs seem to emphasize a focal plane near the broadest part of the spore. Maybe you could try bringing the focal plane up in a couple of stages to see what you can see on the upper “hemisphere” of the spore.

I think I see fine decoration in your pics. That’s about what you’d expect to see in Limacella, some observers miss it entirely; and, at least in some species the decoration apparently varies in “distinctness” from one spore to the next.

Your shots are very cool.


Could you check one thing?
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-05-28 21:56:41 PDT (-0700)

I had to go look up L. whereoparanoea.

Now I remember that was described as bearing cystidia. No other Limacella has ever been so described; hence, I am a little suspicious about whether Ridley’s species belongs to the genus.

Your description is a beautiful fit for Limacella with the exception that, unless I missed it, I don’t think you mention whether or not the stipe context is acrophysalidic. Although the inflated terminal cells of the stipe in Limacella are not so pronounced as they often are in Amanita, the tissue (when reported) is usually reported to be acrophysalidic (which, in consequence, one can say is “typical of the Amanitacaeae”).

If you can advise us that the stipe tissue of your material is of the “Amanita type,” then I agree that you have a Limacella. This is an interesting find. Your documentation of the tip cells of the vertically oriented hyphae on the cap can be used (I think) to fix the section of Limacella to which your species could be assigned.

The terminal cells are approximately cylindric as are the other segments below the terminal cells that are visible in your very nice photograph. This eliminates the section that has inflated or conical shape cells in terminal chains on such hyphae (leaving rank aside for now, a recent name that has been used for this group is Amanitellae). At any rate, your material doesn’t appear to belong there. Of the two groups with fairly consistently cylindric segments in the vertically aligned hyphae on the pileus. Your material appears to belong in the group with the shorter/broader terminal cells: Limacella subsect. Limacella.

If you have kept a record of length and width for the terminal cells of the vertical pileus hyphae that you observed, could you tell me what is the greatest value for the ratio Length/Width of all the terminal cells that you measured?

I have been trying to create a couple of rough keys to the world species of Limacella, and I’d like to see where you material would come out in those keys.

Very best,


Hi rod,
By: Michael W (Michael Wallace)
2010-05-28 21:46:10 PDT (-0700)

It’s great that you saw this observation, I was hoping it wouldn’t get buried before you got a chance to take a look.

As you say, the only species described for NZ is L. whereoparaonea, Amanita australis was previously described as L. macrospora.

I wasn’t even certain that this does belong in Limacella but was having trouble finding any other genus that it would fit into!

The gill trama was divergent and consisted of quite large inflated cells, I tried to make micrographs but found it very difficult to get a good image, maybe I can do better with the dried specimens.

What are your thoughts on the ornamented spores, they were mounted in 3%KOH.

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2010-05-28 21:36:04 PDT (-0700)

A level of detail and thoroughness to aspire to. Hardly “amateur” if you ask me!

You have done a fine job of documenting this material.
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-05-28 21:32:22 PDT (-0700)


This is wonderful. Were you aware of any Limacella in New Zealand (other than Geoff Ridley’s L. wheroparaonea) prior to this find? I may not be completely up-to-date, but I think the only Limacella found in New Zealand is wheroparaonea.

More in a minute.


By: Michael W (Michael Wallace)
2010-05-28 19:06:02 PDT (-0700)

That’s what I mean by “wavy in mature specimens”
It’s not pronounced enough to call serrate.

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2010-05-28 18:54:14 PDT (-0700)

Lamellae Close, free, subventricose in mature specimens, white to pale cream or buff, margin entire, wavy in mature specimens.

There appears to be some serration to the gills as well.

By: Michael W (Michael Wallace)
2010-05-28 18:24:14 PDT (-0700)

I suspect this belongs in the genus Limacella although it’s not the single species that has previously been described from NZ L. whereoparaonea which has pleurocystidia, the specimens in this observation seem to have very finely ornamented spores which I don’t think is a characteristic of the genus, hopefully Rod sees this observation and has some thoughts!

Created: 2010-05-28 18:04:51 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2011-03-28 22:50:48 PDT (-0700)
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