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Volvariella surrecta (Piggyback Pinkgill)

(other scientific names include Agaricus surrectus, Volvaria surrecta, Agaricus loveianus, Volvaria loveiana) 

This species fruits on the fruiting structures of a common and well known late season, litter rotting species - Clitocybe nebularis (Clouded Funnel) (see profile from December 2012). It is not entirely clear whether it is an obligate parasite or a host specific saprotroph (litter rotter) of this latter fungus. I rather wonder whether it might be a bit of both - it apparently can be found on decomposing fruit bodies but my own (single!) experience is that it was forming on very distorted Clitocybe fruit bodies but they felt quite firm and not at all rotten.

The genus Volvariella has free gills, produces pink spores and is also distinguished by the presence of a distinct volva (see the images below). Given such distinct macro characters, the particular niche preference of this species, growing out of the Clitocybe, would pretty much nail this one. More information about some of these terms and fungal lifestyles. 


October and November seem to be when this species is usually recorded in England. The Scottish collection was made on National Fungus Day - October 13th but I would expect the host to be fruiting well into December or even January in Scotland.


The host species, Clitocybe nebularis is often found in nitrogen rich soil and litter in gardens and both deciduous and coniferous woodlands. Since the key to finding Volvariella surrecta is to track down the host, these are the habitats to check. It has to be said that I have looked at a lot of C. nebularis without seeing any Volvariella!


The Checklist gives the distribution as ‘frequency unknown' in England  and Scotland. This species is not commonly recorded in England although I notice that it was collected at this year's British Mycological Society autumn foray in Cambridgeshire and the map below suggests that it is widespread. Now we have one confirmed dot in Scotland - it would be great to find some more sites.

Please remember to submit your records to your local recording group or via the Scottish Fungi online recording form.

Volvariella surrecta Piggyback Rosegill
This fruit body is gradually appearing through its volva. The distorted host, Clitocybe nebularis, is clearly seen.

Volvariella surrecta distribution map 
(note that dot for Scotland cannot be included until the FRDBI is updated)

The National Biodiversity Network Gateway records from FRDBI andHBRG  datasets are shown on the above map (see terms and conditions at http://data.nbn.org.uk). Data providers and the NBN Trust bear no responsibility for any further analysis or interpretation of the information in the map.