Marasmius itself's best party trick is being marcescent, that is the dried fruit bodies can revive in water and come back to life, even continuing to disperse spores! The cells have a kind of gel-like sugary protective coating keeping them from being harmed when desiccated. All are saprophytic but you might find them on the ground or on wood or debris of various sizes.
Marasmius is the core of one of the three largest sub-orders of white spored mushrooms, which I call the "Marasmioid clade". The other two are the Hygrophoroid clade (those more closely related to waxy caps) and the Tricholomatoid clade (those more closely related to Tricholoma). All of them are so similar that before DNA sequencing helped sort it all out, all three were dumped into the overly large Tricholomataceae family. Just about every mushroom from all seven stature pages was dumped there. Since they weren't obviously distinctive like Lactarius, Amanita, etc. we didn't know what else to do. Interestingly enough, many of the "tough stemmed" mushrooms, ended up belonging to the Marasmius clade.
|Small mushrooms with two-toned stems on cones may be Strobilurus.|
Garlic or rotten cabbage odor - with strong odors. The "garlic marasmius" is so strong you can smell it before you find it, and it is said to be a good garlic substitute for those who are allergic. The most common one is probably Mycetinis salalis, which grows on dead salal and Oregon grape. The rotting cabbage odors are similar and somewhat garlicky but usually unpleasant. Mycetinis have spherical cap cuticle cells, while Paragymnopus and 'Micromphale' (Gymnopus) have regular repent filamentous cells.
Mycetinis (Marasmius) salalis/
'Micromphale' arbuticola - garlicky, unique habitat on madrone bark. Belongs in Gymnopus, related to the larger collybioid garlic Gymnopus species.
Coloured caps - the larger species are in Marasmius itself. Those first few species are possibly >2.5cm across, including the fairy ring mushroom, one of many that sometimes grows in unusual fairy rings. This may not represent the magical living spaces of faeries as once thought, but might instead simply be a result of the mycelium growing out equally quickly in all directions from its germination point and sprouting mushrooms only at the limits of its growth in a circular pattern. Marasmius and Rhizomarasmius are also known for usually having spherical cells in the cap cuticle.
Marasmius oreades - found in grass in the spring. <5cm. Tough but not wiry stem. Often wavy cap, sometimes uplifted margin. Famous for sometimes growing in fairy rings.
M. cohaerens - <5cm. Colourful in a way, but never as red. Two-toned stem like Gymnopus erythropus.
Rhizomarasmius epidryas - similar with adnate to decurrent gills, but with a downy stem, on Dryas, and with a cellular cap cuticle. Boreal.
Pseudomarasmius pallidocephalus - very similar to both previous groups, brown cap fades to pale, stem somewhat wiry.
Heimiomyces (Xeromphalina) fulvipes - Most X. species are omphalinoid in stature with decurrent gills, but this one has adnexed gills. The dark wiry stem is a marasmioid character, but the close gills are not. Bitter, on conifer debris.
White caps - These tiny white mushrooms are recognized by only having a few gills, growing on wood or debris and having tough, often dark stems. All but 'Marasmiellus' 'candidus' have spherical cells in the cap cuticle.
|Hemimycenas and some Mycenas are very similar, found on the ground or woody debris, but with pure white, fragile stems.|
'Marasmius' epiphyllus - rudimentary vein-like gills, long two-toned brown stem, on hardwood debris.
If you don't find your mushroom here, you might want to try one of the other stature types as the differences are often slight and it can be very difficult to decide which group a mushroom is in. Remember to verify the spore colour too.
(return to Pictorial Key)