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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – gilled boletes of the PNW
by Danny Miller

Click here for my Pictorial Key to the gilled boletes


Gilled boletes are more related to boletes in the Boletales order than they are to most other gilled mushrooms in the Agaricales order. In fact, Phylloporus, the original gilled bolete was the first that mycologists realized that their morphologic classification system might not reflect reality. It was so easy to assume that evolving gills versus pores versus spines was a big change and that if a mushroom had one of those three shapes for its fertile surface, it must belong with the others. But when they looked at the "gilled bolete", shown above, with its colour and stature exactly matching a number of boletes with a dark cap and bright yellow pores, and they turned it upside down, and saw, as expected, bright yellow.... gills? Then when the microscope was invented, they found it produced spores over twice as long as they are wide, just likes boletes do. They knew something was up and perhaps mushrooms have evolved back and forth between gills and pores more than once. As it turns out, it's not that big a change. Imagine pinching two gills together every once in a while, and you are creating pores. As as the DNA era has shown, convergent evolution (the same look coming about independently) is quite common. But Phylloporus was the first clue.

Since then the microscope discovered that other mushrooms seemed to be bolete relatives, and DNA has confirmed it. You'll have to just learn how to recognize the various genera, but there is often a clue - gills that (especially near the stem) do something weird (after all, they didn't evolve with other gilled mushrooms) - either fork, wriggle, or become interveined almost to the point that they might start to look like pores where they attach to the stem.

I will also cover false truffles in the gilled bolete families.

abundant common uncommon rare - colour codes match my Pictorial Key and are my opinions and probably reflect my bias of living in W WA. Rare species may be locally common in certain places at certain times.

Click here to download the FASTA data of all my DNA sequences

Summary of Interesting Results

Here are some of the newest, most interesting results of the study:

  • TBD

Phylloporus - click to expand

Dark cap and bright yellow... gills, looking like so many true boletes with the same colour and stature. These are very closely related to Xerocomus boletes, in fact it's not certain if they belong in Xerocomus or deserve their own genus, but they probably do.

Species mentioned: Phylloporus rhodoxantha, arenicola

Hygrophoropsis - click to expand

Hygrophoropsidaceae - Commonly mistaken for a chanterelle by beginners, so therefore one of our "false chanterelles" with an orange cap and strongly decurrent bright orange forked gills. The caps on some species may be dark brown or even pale (almost white).

Species mentioned: Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, rufa, pallida

Gomphidius and Chroogomphus - click to expand

Gomphidiaceae - Easily recognized fairly large, fleshy mushrooms with strongly decurrent gills and grey to black spores. Gomphidius are very slimy with white flesh that blackens. Chroogomphus are not slimy and have orange coloured flesh with water soluble pigments that can turn your urine red like beets.

Chroogomphus albipes CA and Chroogomphus loculatus OR are secotioids. Gomphogaster leucosarx is a trufflized mushroom in this family.

Species mentioned: Gomphidius glutinosus, largus, oregonensis, maculatus, pseudomaculatus, smithii, subroseus. Chroogomphus tomentosus, vinicolor subsp. californicus, ochraceus, pseudovinicolor, leptocystis, albipes, loculatus. Gomphogaster leucosarx.

Paxillus, Alpova and Melanogaster - click to expand

Paxillaceae - Large but thin-fleshed mushrooms with indented caps, a strongly inrolled margin, strongly decurrent gills and brown spores. The caps are large, yellow- to olive-brown discs and the mushrooms strongly stain brown.

Alpova and Melanogaster are trufflized mushrooms in the same family.

Species mentioned: Paxillus involutus, cuprinus, ammoniavirescens, obscurisporus. Alpova diplophloeus, concolor, trappei. Melanogaster tuberiformis, macrocarpus, euryspermus, natsii, ambiguus, intermedius, broomianus, vittadinii.

Tapinella - click to expand


Tapinella atrotomentosa EU - very large dark brown cap with strongly decurrent yellowish gills and a large, black-velvet eccentric stem on conifer stumps. Brown spores.

Tapinella panuoides EU - lacks a stem, on conifer stumps with brown spores. Yellowish brown cap and gills. Hard to differentiate from Crepidotus except for the odd forked, crimped (wrinkled) or interveined gills near the point of attachment).

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