Entoloma bloxamii

The Gene Jockey’s are at it again!

I was very excited to find Entoloma bloxamii this autumn, down at Whitmuir Farm near Selkirk. This is a beautiful steel and blue toadstool which occurs in unimproved grassland and is really rather rare.

Kew are currently engaging with mycologists all over Britain with their The Lost and Found Project, hoping to collect new records of rarely recorded fungi across the UK with the aim to demonstrate which are genuinely rare and which are just under recorded. E. bloxamii is one of the species they are targeting. They are lucky enough to have funding that allows molecular analysis of specimens that are sent in.

I have now been informed by Kew that  recent phylogenetic analysis of the group of species close to and including E. bloxamii suggests that the collections recorded under that name, which they hold in the Fungarium at Kew represent not one but at least three different species, if not more!

Entoloma bloxamii
Entoloma bloxamii

My collection apparently matches the sequence of a species called Entoloma madidum, considered to be an invalid name, previously thought to be conspecific with E. bloxamii, but which Fries’s description suggests has a foetid smell (mine had a mealy, farinaceous smell). However by navigating a nomenclatural tightrope walk involving obstacles such as homonyms of earlier species and later combinations with this epiphet into the genus Entloma, it becomes legitimate and available for a new taxon with slightly smaller spore range than, but overlapping with E. bloxamii and with a farinaceous smell… …you following me?

Trouble is, they all look the bloomin’ same!