The order Agaricales, also known as gilled mushrooms (for their distinctive gills), or euagarics, contains some of the most familiar types of mushrooms. The order has about 4,000 identified species, or one quarter of all known Agaricomycetes. They range from the ubiquitous common mushroom to the deadly destroying angel and the hallucinogenic fly agaric to the bioluminescent jack-o-lantern mushroom.
Some notable fungi with gill-like structures, such as chanterelles
, have long been recognized as being substantially different from usual Agaricales. Interestingly, molecular studies are showing more groups of agarics as being more divergent than previously thought, such as the genera Russula
belonging to a separate order Russulales
, and other gilled fungi, including such species as Paxillus involutus
and Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca
showing a closer affinity with Boletes
in the order Boletales
Also, some other quite distinctive fungi, the puffballs, and some clavaroid fungi, e.g. Typhula, and the Beefsteak fungus have been recently been shown to lie within the Agaricales.
The term agaric had traditionally referred to Agaricales, which were defined as exactly those fungi with gills. Given the discoveries described above, those two categories are not synonymous (although there is a very large overlap between the two groups).
Distribution and habitat
Agarics are ubiquitous, being found across all continents. Most are terrestrial, their habitats including all types of woodland and grassland, varying largely from one genus to another.
of the agarics are typically fleshy, with a stipe
, often called a stem or stalk, a pileus
(or cap) and lamellae
(or gills), where basidiospores
are produced. This is indeed the stereotyped structure of what we would call a mushroom
The agarics' life cycle is very much representative of the basidiomycetes. Clamp connections
are present in the dikaryons
of many species. The agarics always have their basidiospores ejected from the basidium
into the area between gill edges. The spores are then let fall to the ground or carried by the wind.