Velvet Shield Fungus

Velvet Shield (Pluteus umbrosus) is a fungus in the class Agaricomycetes. It can be found throughout late summer and autumn, and although it is widespread throughout the UK, it is fairly rare. It is also found throughout much of northern and central mainland Europe, and has also been recorded in North America. Inhabiting the rotting fallen branches and other woody debris of broadleaf trees, this species is either found alone or in small groups. Its radially wrinkled cap and pale pink gills make it distinctive.

Distribution map of Velvet Shield Fungus (Pluteus umbrosus) © NBN Atlas

The cap is 3-9cm in diameter, mid brown colour - darkest towards the centre and usually with quite irregular marks aligned radially. The stem is 3-8cm long  and 5-12mm in diameter along its whole length and rather pale in colour. Underneath the cap, the gills are white at first, before turning pale pink with distinctive dark brown edges.

Velvet Shield Fungus (Pluteus umbrosus) on rotting
deadwood on the UEA campus.

In a German study investigating the long-term effects of logging intensity on a number of different taxonomic groups, Pluteus umbrosus was one of 36 species of wood fungi that was used as an indicator of pristine conditions. This is due to its requirements for rotting wood which is generally found more abundantly in pristine woodlands, compared to logged areas as logged/fallen wood is often removed from the site.

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