The winter mushroom or velvet shank, has recently (2019) been reclassified as Flammulina velutipes. In the past, classification of fungi was based on morphology alone, but newly available DNA analysis techniques have resulted in the reclassification of many species.
Winter mushroom is entered in our species list under its former name, Collybia velutipes, recorded and identified in January of 2021 by Ian Bushell, who is much, much more expert in the classification of Lepidoptera than fungi.
Winter mushroom is a xylophagous fungus that grows in dense clusters on decaying broadleaved trees and has a particular liking for elm. It produces orange-brown fruiting caps right through the winter, withstanding severe frost and snow; it can even survive being frozen solid. This makes it a valuable protein-rich food source for overwintering woodland invertebrates and woodmice.
Header image: Winter mushroom (Flammulina velutipes) by Guido Gerding (CC BY-SA 3.0) wikimedia.org