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Word of the Week: Lamellae

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Lamellae [luh-MEL-ee] (plural mycology noun): Plate-like or blade-like structures that are attached to the underside of the cap of many Basidiomycete fungi, a grouping that includes mushrooms, shelf fungi, rusts, smuts, jelly fungi, and more. In other words, they are the gills of the fungus.

A fungus’ lamellae (or gills) are covered with basidia, which are microscopic structures in the shape of a club, on which the spores are produced.

The presence gills represent a really clever adaptation that allow many fungi to expand their spore producing surfaces. Just think about how much more space you’d have for spores when you compare the total surface area of all the gills of a mushroom (which includes both sides) to the surface area of a single, flat surface the size of the mushroom’s cap!

Looking closely at the morphology of a fungus’ gills can be very important for fungi identification. Some gill details that you might want to consider are gill attachment to the stem, gill spacing, gill colour (which can change as the fungus matures), gill consistency (e.g. brittle or waxy), and gill form (e.g. short gills, forked gills, gills with serrated edges).

Some High Park examples of gilled fungi include, Honey Mushroom, Shaggy Mane, and species of entoloma and agaricus fungi.

Fall is an incredible season to explore the fantastic world of fungi. Keep an eye out for fungi and their lamellae on your next visit to High Park!