Key to Common British Basidiomycetes


The following key has been reproduced from a tabulation of characters by Norman Bamforth, a member of the North West Fungus Group in the UK. It was originally produced to help amateurs, who are taking their first steps in identifying fungi, to key out commonly found fungi to genus level.

It is placed here as an exercise in using a browser to produce an interactive key. The file can be downloaded and used off-line.

Clicking on the number of your choice will place that choice at the top of the screen. To retrace by one step at any stage, click on "return". To return to the beginning of the key at any stage, click on "top".

!!!! WARNING !!!!

This key is not infallible!
For example; Amanita is keyed out three times as having veil remnants on the cap. These can sometimes be absent for various reasons and Amanita can be found with a clean cap. The key must not, therefore, be used for identifying fungi for eating.

No responsibility can be accepted for any harm caused to people who use the key for that purpose.

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Key to Common British Basidiomycetes

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Caps are broad and 'mushroom-shaped' where not otherwise stated.

1 With volva 2
Without volva 5
2 Ring present, gills free, broad cap with veil remnants, spores white / cream Amanita
Ring absent, gills free, broad cap 3 | return | top
3 Spores white / cream, veil remnants on cap Amanita
Spores other than white 4 | return | top
4 Spores pink, on wood or rich soil Volvariella
Spores dark-brown / purple, cap with scales Agaricus return | top
5 Without volva, with ring 6
Without volva, without ring 16 | return | top
6 Spores white / cream 7
Spores dark brown / purple 10
Spores brown 13
Spores black 15 | return | top
7 Gills adnate, cap broad, medium sized, growing on wood in troops Flammulina
Gills decurrent, growing on wood 8
Gills free 9 | return | top
8 Large, tufted. Cap with fibres Armillaria
Cap slimy, pure white, translucent Oudemansiella return | top
9 Large. Veil remnants on cap Amanita
Cap scaly, often dark at centre Lepiota return | top
10 Gills adnate 11
Gills not so 12 | return | top
11 Small fungus, usually amongst grass Psilocybe
Cap slimy, on soil or dung Stropharia return | top
12 Gills free, cap dry with scales Agaricus
Gills sinuate, often tufted, on wood Hypholoma return | top
13 Gills adnate / sinuate. Small with slender stem Galerina
Gills adnate 14 | return | top
14 Smooth cap, on soil or wood Agrocybe
Cap scaly, with inrolled margin, usually on wood Pholiota return | top
15 Gills adnate, cap domed, drying paler. On or near tree stumps Psathyrella
Gills adnate / sinuate, mottled dark brown, cap domed. On soil or dung Panaeolus
Gills decurrent. Cap broad, waxy, with glutinous veil Gomphidius
Gills various, crowded, liquefying. Cap conical Coprinus return | top
16 Spores white / cream 17
Spores pink 23
Spores dark brown / purple 26
Spores brown 28
Spores black 34 | return | top
17 Gills adnate 18
Gills adnate / free 19
Gills adnate / decurrent, distant Laccaria
Gills adnate / sinuate. Brightly coloured, not waxy Tricholoma
(Compare with Hygrocybe - 19, Hygrophorus - 20 )
Gills sinuate, gill-edge fringed (lens). Growing on wood. Tricholomopsis
Gills decurrent 20
Gills free 21
Gills various 22 | return | top
18 Small fungus, scaly cap Cystoderma
Robust fungus Lyophyllum
Slender stem Marasmius
Cap with central swelling, flesh thin Melanoleuca | return | top
19 Usually growing in leaf litter. Cap broad to domed Collybia
Gills distant. Brightly coloured, waxy Hygrocybe
(Compare with Tricholoma - 17 , Hygrophorus - 20 ) | return | top
20 Cap flat to funnel-shaped Clitocybe
Cap funnel-shaped, very small fungus Omphalina
Cap flat, stem excentric, very small fungus Panus
Cap flat, stem excentric, large fungus Pleurotus
Cap shape various, waxy, brightly-coloured. Gills distant Hygrophorus
(Compare with Tricholoma - 17 , Hygrocybe - 19 ) | return | top
21 Small fungus. Cap scaly, often darker at centre Lepiota
Very small fungus. Stem excentric Panellus | return | top
22 Cap conical. Small fungus Mycena
Broad cap. Gills issue milk when broken Lactarius
Flesh brittle. Gills not issuing milk Russula | return | top
23 Gills sinuate 24
Gills adnate 25
Gills adnate / decurrent. Distinctly mealy smell. Waxy feel Clitopilus
Gills free. Usually growing on wood Pluteus | return | top
24 Medium to large fungus with lilac tinge or lilac stem Lepista
Medium to large fungus, stem fibrous Entoloma | return | top
25 Stem cartilaginous, cap striate Nolanea
Stem cartilaginous, gill edge sometimes darker, cap often with fine scales Leptonia
Medium to large fungus with lilac tinge or lilac stem Lepista | return | top
26 Gills adnate / sinuate 27
Gills adnate, cap conical, small, usually in grass Psilocybe
Gills sinuate, cap broad, medium sized, often tufted, usually on wood Hypholoma | return | top
27 Cap domed. Gills brown, mottled. Growing on soil or dung Panaeolus
Cap domed, drying paler. Fragile, growing on, or near, stumps Psathyrella | return | top
28 Gills adnate 29
Gills adnate / sinuate 30
Gills decurrent 31
Gills free 32
Gills various 33 | return | top
29 Cap domed, slimy. Stem slender Galerina
Cap often scaly. Rolled rim. Usually on wood Pholiota | return | top
30 Fungus often viscid, with radish odour Hebeloma
Cap smooth. Growing in damp places with Alder and Willow Naucoria | return | top
31 Cap flat. Stem excentric Crepidotus
Cap flat. Stem excentric. Gills orange Paxillus
Cap flat, top felty, rolled rim Paxillus | return | top
32 Cap flat, liquefying. Growing on wood or dung Bolbitius
Cap domed to conical, often with central swelling. Fibrous or scaly Inocybe | return | top
33 Rust coloured spores. Very variable fungi Cortinarius | return | top
34 Gills adnate. Cap domed, drying paler, fragile. Growing on or near stumps Psathyrella
Gills adnate / sinuate. Cap domed. Gills brown, mottled. Growing on soil or dung Panaeolus
Gills decurrent. Cap broad, waxy, with glutinous veil Gomphidius
Cap conical. Gills crowded, liquefying Coprinus | return | top

Last Updated 19 November 1996