Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota

Help with searching
Useful Links


This is the first ever comprehensive checklist of the Basidiomycota of Great Britain and Ireland. It may seem surprising that such a basic reference work should have to wait till the 21st century before appearing, but until recently the task has seemed overwhelming, given the large numbers of fungal taxa in the British Isles and the small number of taxonomic mycologists.

    Partial checklists of various groups of the Basidiomycota have, however, previously been published and these earlier works have provided a substantial basis for the preparation of the present checklist. The largest and most important of these was the New Check List of British Agarics and Boleti (NCL), published in 1960 by R.W.G. Dennis, P.D. Orton, and F.B. Hora. This provided a critical listing of all the mushrooms, toadstools, and boletes known to occur in the British Isles, clearing away much dead wood and uncertain names, whilst describing many new taxa and providing many new combinations. This revisionary work was itself an update of an earlier checklist of agarics by Pearson & Dennis (1948), which in turn was a radical overhaul of the list of agarics treated by Carleton Rea in his British Basidiomycetae (1922). Rea’s compilation, updating and extending that by Smith (1908), was a major but uncritical descriptive catalogue of all the British hymenomycetes (a term which excluded rusts, smuts, yeasts and hyphomycetes) recorded up to that time. Important earlier compilations include those by Berkeley (1860, extensively supplemented by Smith, 1891), Cooke (1871, 1883–91), Massee (1892, 1893a,b), and Stevenson (1879, 1886).

    More recently, several checklists or monographs of various groups of basidiomycetes have been published. British hypogeous basidiomycetes (the false truffles) were monographed by Pegler, Spooner & Young (1993) and other gasteroid basidiomycetes by Pegler, Læssøe & Spooner (1995). British stipitate hydnoid fungi and chanterelles were monographed by Pegler, Roberts & Spooner (1997). A key to British poroid fungi was published by Pegler (1973) and a list of British aphyllophoroid fungi by Henrici & Cook (1991). A preliminary list of British heterobasidioid fungi was published by Henrici (1990). The British rust fungi, first monographed by Plowright (1889) and later by Grove (1913), were covered in a modern monograph by Wilson & Henderson (1966) with additions by Henderson & Bennell (1979, 1980), and a more recent checklist by Henderson (2000). Mordue & Ainsworth (1984) compiled an account of the smut fungi, which revised the earlier monograph of the British smuts by Ainsworth & Samson (1950).

    In addition, compilations of the fungi of the Hebrides (Dennis, 1986) and of South East England (Dennis, 1995) provided comprehensive listings of the fungi known from these regions, the former also including data on all known British fungal genera. Some county mycotas, covering basidiomycetes as well as other groups of fungi, have also been produced, providing details of local species and important data on hosts and distribution. These include most notably those for Yorkshire (resulting from the activities of the Mycological Committee of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union) first compiled by Massee & Crossland (1905), followed by an extended catalogue by Mason & Grainger (1937), an update by Bramley (1985), and a recent local list for the Scarborough District by Stephenson (2004). Other published county and local mycotas include those of Plowright (1872-73) for Norfolk, Clark (1980) for Warwickshire, Dickson & Leonard (1996) for the New Forest, Bowen (2000) for Dorset, Watling (1994) for Shetland, Watling et al. (1999) for Orkney, and Aron (2005) for Northwest Wales (Merionethshire, Caernarvonshire and Anglesey). Details of many additional regional, county, and local lists can be found in Ainsworth & Waterhouse (1989).

    The yeast fungi have tended to be studied quite separately, and it is only with the advent of molecular sequencing that the classification of yeasts has been satisfactorily linked to the classification of filamentous fungi. From this we know that many yeasts are basidiomycetous and should be included in the checklist. However, information on the distribution of these yeasts within the British Isles has been difficult or impossible to find, although the recent compilation by Barnett et al. (2000) has been of value.


The present checklist is far more than a simple list of species names. It collates data on over 3600 species or subspecific taxa recorded from the British Isles, together with additional alien and excluded taxa, plus synonyms. It attempts to include all names which have appeared in British literature, a total of over 16,500 names. It has been compiled following an extensive survey of literature references and herbarium collections, undertaken in consultation with a number of specialists. The checklist makes no pretence of being a revisionary work and includes no taxonomic novelties.

    The list itself is derived from a database compiled at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since the year 2000. Though we have tried to keep them to a minimum, errors and omissions are inevitable (corrections will be welcomed – see below). New research, particularly in the expanding field of molecular sequencing, will also entail the revision of many current species and generic concepts. This checklist is not, therefore, the ultimate guide to the naming of British basidiomycetous fungi. Names are changing right at this moment and will continue to change. But the checklist does attempt to list all the species (and autonomous taxa) which are known to occur in the British Isles, whatever the names they have been given now or in the past.

    It is envisaged that this Internet version of the checklist will be regularly updated (with a summary noting any major changes). Corrections and additions should be e-mailed to


The checklist includes entries for all known species within the kingdom Fungi, phylum Basidiomycota, occurring within the British Isles. More than 3100 recognized species and subspecific taxa within the class Basidiomycetes are covered, including the agarics (mushrooms and toadstools), the cyphelloid fungi, the poroid or bracket fungi, the gasteroid fungi (including puffballs, stinkhorns, and false truffles), the corticioid or patch-forming fungi, the clavarioid or club and coral fungi, the hydnoid or toothed fungi, and many (but not all) of the jelly fungi with their associated yeasts. More than 340 taxa within the class Urediniomycetes are covered, including the rust fungi, a few of the smut fungi, and the remaining jelly fungi with their associated yeasts. Finally, more than 150 taxa within the class Ustilaginomycetes are covered, including the majority of the smut fungi, together with a few other plant parasites and yeasts. Anamorphs (mainly basidiomycetous yeasts and hyphomycetes) are included under their teleomorph names. Where no teleomorph is known, the anamorph receives a separate entry.


The checklist covers the whole of the British Isles, including the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey (Channel Islands). Inevitably herbarium collections and published records are not evenly distributed throughout the British Isles, and as a consequence some areas are substantially under-recorded. This is particularly true of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, though more recording is now being done here than in the past.


The checklist aims to include at least some reference to all species within the Basidiomycota that have ever been reported to occur in the British Isles.

    Full entries are given for taxa which are currently recognized as distinct species and whose status as British is supported by at least one herbarium collection. In most (but not all) cases these herbarium collections are in the national collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and/or the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

    A few subspecific taxa, mainly at the level of ‘variety’, have also received entries on the same basis. Subspecific taxa at the often rather dubious level of ‘form’ are generally listed as synonyms, if at all.


Two rather different categories of species are covered. Firstly ‘good’ species that have been claimed to be British, but for which the evidence is lacking (absence of herbarium collections). Secondly, and more numerously, doubtful species, formerly listed as British, but now of uncertain application.


There is no clear way to distinguish native British fungi from alien species. We may assume that a species like the bolete Suillus grevillei, though originally described from Scotland, is an alien species since it is an exclusive ectomycorrhizal associate of larch, which is an alien tree. But it is less clear (for example) that all the ectomycorrhizal associates of pine, which in the British Isles is only native in Scotland, are alien when found outside Scotland. The distinction is even less clear when considering fungi forming non-specific ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic associations.

    Accordingly, the checklist makes an arbitrary but clear-cut definition of ‘alien fungi’ as those species which have only ever been reported in the British Isles in an indoor environment, i.e. in hothouses, greenhouses, and other buildings. A few rusts recorded once or twice on exotic garden plants have also been considered aliens, where the records suggest they have not become established in the British Isles.


Most of the information contained in the checklist has been obtained from the British collections of fungi held in the mycological herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. These amount to some 250,000 collections from all parts of the British Isles, approximately 100,000 of which belong within the Basidiomycota. Substantial additional information has been obtained from the British collections at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

    Records in the British Mycological Society’s Fungal Records Database (BMSFRD) have been examined and have proved valuable for distribution and frequency data (see below). Much of the literature on the British Basidiomycota, both early and recent, has also been examined (see references and literature list below) and many experts in particular groups have been consulted (see acknowledgements below).


Each accepted genus within the British Basidiomycota receives an entry, giving:

    1) the genus name, with full publication details (author(s), date, and place of publication);

    2) the order and family in which it is placed in the 8th Edition of the Dictionary of the Fungi (Hawksworth et al., 1995). This classification is cited rather than that of the 9th Edition (Kirk et al., 2001) which partially incorporates recent revisions based on molecular data. The molecular picture is as yet too fluid and with too many gaps to form a satisfactory basis for a detailed classification;

    3) synonyms (used in the British Isles), with full publication details;

    4) the type species of the accepted genus.


Each accepted species (and some subspecific taxa) receives an entry, giving:

    1) the species name, with full publication details (author(s), date, and place of publication);

    2) synonyms (used in the British Isles), with full publication details;

    3) misapplied names, where widely used;

    4) data on habitat, seasonality, and associated species (see below);

    5) distribution and frequency data (see below);

    6) abbreviated references to relevant descriptions (D) and illustrations (I);

    7) any additional notes.


Considerable effort has been made to find the correct author citation and publication details for all taxa in the checklist. This is particularly difficult for older taxa, following the change in the starting point date for fungal nomenclature introduced at the 13th International Botanical Congress in 1981. Previously, the starting point for hymenomycete nomenclature was 1821 (publication date of the first volume of Fries’ Systema mycologicum), and for gasteromycetes and rusts 1801 (publication date of Persoon’s Synopsis methodica fungorum). Earlier names were devalidated unless used after the starting point dates, in which case they were credited to the first author to refer back to them. This system was considered unsatisfactory a) because the names of lichenised fungi already started with Linnaeus in 1753, and b) because priority and pre-eminence were inevitably given to any obscure or minor work found to have been the first after the starting point dates to use a devalidated name. Under this system, for example, J.F.B. de St-Amans’ little-known Flore agenaise (St-Amans, 1821) became one of the most frequently cited mycological works, a reputation it hardly deserved.

    Following the 1981 Congress, the starting point date for fungi was put back to 1753 (the date of Linnaeus’s Species Plantarum) in line with plant and lichen names, except that taxa accepted by Fries (1821, 1822-1823, 1828, & 1829-1832) and Persoon (1801) were ‘sanctioned’ and could not be replaced by earlier names. More than twenty years after this rule change, the ramifications are still requiring research. Unfamiliar old epithets have been validly resurrected, and a host of author citations and literature references have had to be rechecked. To achieve this, the original literature has been substantially re-examined, facilitated by the extensive mycological library at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

    Following the lead of The British Ascomycotina: An Annotated Checklist (Cannon et al., 1985), the sanctioning author has not been included in citations, except in a few cases to clarify the placement of earlier names which are given as synonyms. Thus Tubaria furfuracea appears as (Pers.) Gillet rather than (Pers.: Fr.) Gillet. A full list of sanctioned epithets was published by Gams (1984).


The checklist gives full author and publication details for all homotypic and taxonomic synonyms known to have been used in the literature on the British Basidiomycota, including some standard continental monographs and field guides. Ideally, taxonomic synonyms would have been credited to the researcher who first published the synonymy (thus answering the question ‘Who says it is a synonym?’), but it has not proved feasible to undertake this major additional level of research. Synonyms have thus been accepted in good faith, with comments sometimes added in the notes field if the synonymy is known to be disputed or contentious. Misapplied names are given after the synonymy.


Data on habitat (e.g. marshes, dunes, conifer woodland) and associations (e.g. on dead herbaceous stems, with Salix and Populus spp) have generally been compiled at first hand from notes accompanying collections and records, rather than being copied from the existing literature. In some cases this has revealed interesting differences between data from the British Isles and data from continental Europe. In other cases, it may suggest that collections and records have been misdetermined (and these instances are usually noted).

    Associated organisms (the majority of which are tree and shrub species) are given with their Latin names. To save space, familiar native and planted species are referred to by genus only when there is only one main species in the British Isles (thus native beech, Fagus sylvatica, is referred to as ‘Fagus’; native holly, Ilex aquifolium, is referred to as ‘Ilex’; and so on).


The entry for each accepted taxon includes basic data on distribution within the British Isles, giving its reported presence within the constituent countries, i.e. England (E), Scotland (S), Wales (W), Northern Ireland (NI), and the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Records from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are noted separately under (O). For each of these, frequency is indicated as follows:

(c) common

(o) occasional (or infrequently reported)

(r) rare (or rarely reported)

(!) present, but frequency unknown 

(?) reported, but the report is doubtful or uncertain 

Since so little is yet known about the distribution of fungi, the categories assigned should be taken as no more than a rough indication of frequency based on available records. In fact, apart from a few species which are visibly common, all taxa in the checklist could easily have been marked ‘data deficient’. The problem lies in the paucity of fungal recorders (compared to the numbers of people recording birds or plants), the lack of specialists in many difficult or obscure groups, and the lack of knowledge of fruiting patterns for the majority of fungal species. It is not yet possible to tell, for example, whether a ‘rare’ fungus is genuinely rare, or whether it only produces fruitbodies rarely. Similarly, it is not clear whether a species not seen in the British Isles for many years (e.g. Gomphus clavatus) is genuinely ‘extinct’ (accordingly, all such species are included in the checklist). Additional information may be given in the notes field.

    This internet version of the checklist also contains the herbarium accession number of a voucher collection (where one exists) from each of the constituent parts of the British Isles in which a given taxon has been recorded. This enables anyone interested in following up a report of a taxon in a particular country to check a specific collection (most of which are held at Edinburgh or Kew). For reasons of space, these details were not included in the printed checklist.


For most but not all taxa, abbreviated references are given to relevant descriptions (D) and illustrations (I) (see Bibliography for abbreviations). In the main, the references have been selected from standard works, both British and overseas, currently used for identifying British fungi. Some classic British illustrative works have also been included, together with selected illustrations from recent journals. References to the type description (already given in the publication details for each taxon) are not repeated.

    These references are clearly neither comprehensive nor complete, nor should the descriptions and illustrations necessarily be taken as ‘recommended’ (though most have been checked). They are included simply as a helpful starting point to discover more about the taxon listed.


The additional notes field has been used for a wide range of brief comments, on the status of a given taxon (especially if uncertain or poorly known in the British Isles), on its distribution (with vice-counties often listed where limited), on collection dates, and so on. In some cases, notes are given on similar taxa or on recognition points. English names are also given, but only where these are familiar and of long usage.


The checklist database has provision for recording the Red Data List status of rare and vulnerable British species and others of conservation concern. These data were omitted from the printed Checklist for space reasons but are included in the web version. The status of these species as currently given is based on the provisional red list (Ing 1992), and existing Biodiversity Action Plan taxa (with link to the Plan). These lists are both currently under revision and will be incorporated into the Checklist when they have been published.


Abbreviations of author names follow Brummitt & Powell (1992; amended version on the web). Abbreviations of publications follow Bridson (2004) (journals) and Stafleu & Cowan (1976-88) (books) as far as possible; when not included in these works, they are given in full. Abbreviated literature references, mainly found in the descriptions and illustrations section, are given in the bibliography (below).

Comb.  Combination, as in comb. illegit., comb. inval. (see nom. illegit., etc. below).

f.  forma (a taxonomic rank below variety).

Fide  On the authority of.

Ined.  Unpublished.

Herb.  Herbarium. Herb. K is the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; herb. E the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

In litt.  In correspondence (i.e. not published).

Mis.  Misapplied.

Nom. conf.  Nomen confusum. A name with various conflicting interpretations.

Nom. cons.  Nomen conservandum. A name specifically conserved by a ruling of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Greuter et al., 2000), usually against a competing name which might otherwise have priority.

Nom. dub.  Nomen dubium.  A name of uncertain application. Typically there is no type specimen and the original description is inadequate.

Nom. illegit.  Nomen illegitimum. A name that is validly published, but contravenes certain articles of the Code. Typically it is a later homonym of an earlier validly published name or a superfluous name.

Nom. inval.  Nomen invalidum. A name that is not validly published under the Code.

Nom. nov.  Nomen novum. A new name replacing an existing illegitimate name.

Nom. nud.  Nomen nudum. A name published without description and thus invalid under the Code.

Nom. rej.  Nomen rejiciendum. A name specifically rejected by a ruling of the the Code (usually in favour of a better-known name).

Nom. superfl.  Nomen superfluum. A superfluous name, i.e. one with an earlier valid name included by its author as a synonym.

p.p.  pro parte. In part.

Pers. comm.  Personal communication.

Sensu  In the sense of (as interpeted by).

Sensu auct.  In the sense of (as interpeted by) various authors, but not in the original sense.

Sensu lato  In a broad sense.

Sensu stricto  In a narrow sense.

sp.  species (singular)

spp  species (plural)

subsp.  subspecies (a taxonomic rank below species).

var.  variety (a taxonomic rank below subspecies).