The Fungus (Names) Among Us

With names like Asterophora lycoperdoides and Cortinarius alboviolaceus, you can imagine how unsurprised I am that the names of fungi aren’t exactly common dinner party conversation. But what if I told you those two genus of fungi also went by the names ‘Powdery Piggyback’ and ‘Pearly Webcap’?

Interested now? Me too!

All it took was a Mental Floss article about “70 Totally Amazing Common Names for Fungi“, and I was hooked. In addition to their scientific names, most genus of fungi also have a common English name (and that’s where they get really fun).

The whole list can be found here on the British Mycological Society’s website. They even have a process for naming the fungi, which has its own protocol and approval process. Is it just me, or would you love to be part of the meeting to determine whether to accept names like ‘Big Smoky Bracket’ or ‘Lawyer’s Wig’?

Here are a few of my favorite English names from the Mental Floss list, with a picture added:

Twisted Deceiver Edit

Turquoise Elfcup Edit

Snaketongue Truffleclub Edit

Pink Disco Edit

Scurfy Twigliet Edit

Purple Jellydisc Edit

Dewdrop Dapperling Edit

Plums and Custard Edit

Destroying Angel Edit

Devils Fingers Edit

Bulbous Honey Fungus Edit

Cinnamon Jellybaby Edit

Dark Crazed Cap Edit

Contorted Strangler Edit

Cabbage Parachute Edit

Bonfire Cauliflower Edit

Barometer Earthstar Edit

Crypib Bonnet Edit

Drunkstick Truffleclub Edit


Can’t get enough? Here are a few more wonderful names that I found on the full list:

Scarlett Caterpillarclub, Bug Sputnik, The Miller, Chicken Run Funnel, Dwarf Spindles, Golden Navel, Giant Puffball, Deceiving Bolete, Sandy Stiltball, Ringless Honey Fungus, Hintapink, and Potato Earthball.

(Resources: Mental Floss, The British Mycological Society, photos of the fungi from various sources but the images are my own)

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