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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Clavariaceae Clubs and Corals of the PNW
by Danny Miller

Click here for my Pictorial Key to the clubs and corals of the Clavariaceae.


Clavaria - bright white, pink, or orange clubs found on the ground, with smooth white spores. Relatively brittle (easily broken). Clavariadelphus are usually wrinkled, flattened (either along the sides or at the top), or otherwise not purely round, and often larger.

A 3-gene study showed that Clavaria may have to be split into 5 genera, and my own ITS trees shows a possible two more. Otherwise, all of these genera plus the gilled genera Hodophilus and Camarophyllopsis would all be in one genus. It will probably be considered too weird to have gilled mushrooms and clubs/corals in the same genus, so we can probably expect a split in the future. One already has a name, Holocoryne. My ITS only tree shows Holocoryne split into two parts, but the 3 gene tree holds them together.

Clavicorona - white clubs with crown shaped tips found on the ground or woody debris with smooth (at any magnification you're likely to have) white spores. Artomyces have crown shaped tips, but are usually at least somewhat branched (coral-like) and found on wood.

Clavulinopsis - similar orange clubs and/or corals that are a little tougher and harder to break with large smooth white spores (>6u).

Ramariopsis - similarly tough bright white or orange corals with small spiny white spores (<6u).

It is unclear to me if Clavulinopsis and Ramariopsis are valid, distinct genera. One LSU tree shows them distinct, but my ITS tree shows them intermingle. The multi-gene study had only 2 sequences of each. I don't think they would be split into multiple new genera, but it's possible they might be combined, with Clavulinopsis being the older name. It should be noted that some people use the name Ramariopsis for most Clavulinopsis, and I'm not sure why.

Mucronella - upside-down small colourful clubs (a few mm long) that hang from wood.


Other clubs Alloclavaria are purple-grey. Multiclavula are small, lichenized clubs. Stinkhorns are easily differentiated. Ascomycota clubs have ascii and usually a much more differentiated head or are covered in pimples. The Pleurotineae have very thin clubs often with sclerotia. Artomyces are at least somewhat coral shaped and found on wood with crown shaped tips. Calocera are jelly mushrooms on wood that cannot easily be broken.

Other corals: These are all corals with tube-shaped branches. Many other corals have flattened, fan-shaped branches. Other tube corals include: Clavulina are dull off-white corals with busier tips. Tremellodendropsis is a wrinkled pinkish-tan tough and gelatinous coral. Lentaria grows on wood. Ramaria may grow on wood, but if found on the ground usually have somewhat coloured spores, busier tips, and are a duller white, or if bright orange have warty or striate spores, differently ornamented that those on this page. Artomyces are corals found on wood with crown shaped tips. Calocera are jelly mushrooms on wood that cannot easily be broken.


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.

Clavaria, Clavulinopsis, Ramariopsis, Clavicorona, and Mucronella


Clavaria fragilis complex EU - clusters of white clubs. This is a set of a half dozen to a dozen species around the world, if not more. I have no idea if this will be split into many species, or determined to be one species with very, very high variation in ITS. Clavaria vermicularis EU is said to be a synonym, but given how many species are in this complex, I doubt it is.

Clavaria 'fragilis PNW03' - two WA and one ID sequence are 2 bp plus a couple of long indels different from each other, and probably represent the same species in this complex. We don't have ITS of the type collection, so I'm not sure which ITS sequence represents the real thing, but I'm assuming that with so many species in the complex, ours is not the real thing, but ours is within 3% of one good possibility.

Clavaria 'fragilis PNW04' - one ID sequence is about 20% different in ITS2 (the only region we have sequenced) and if real, definitely represents another species in this complex.

Clavaria 'fragilis PNW10' - one collection from WA with granular, not smooth spores. It is 10% in ITS from the nearest species.

'Holocoryne' falcata complex EU - these are more single and slender white species with the base being somewhat translucent. Again, there are many species worldwide that need to be split or explained how they can vary so much in ITS. Clavaria acuta UK is said to be a synonym, but given how many species are in this complex, I doubt it is.

'Holocoryne' 'falcata PNW07' - sequenced twice from WA and once from ID.

'Holocoryne' 'falcata PNW08' - sequenced once from WA and once from ID.

Clavaria rosea EU - a beautiful pink club. Several EU and local sequences match, with one outlying EU sequence being only 5 bp different, so I think it's safe to say we have the real species here.

Clavaria 'fragilis PNW10' © Sharon Squazzo,     unsequenced 'Holocoryne' falcata complex member © Noah Siegel,     unsequenced Clavaria rosea © Michael Beug


'Holocoryne' 'globospora PNW02' WA (=Clavaria americana ID?) - creamy yellow club with almost round spores. One of the 2 WA collections with sequences was a good match to this species. If this isn't C. globospora, then we need to figure out what is.

Holocoryne 'flavipes PNW06' - one BC sequence and one CA sequence are 5 bp from the epitype sequence of the yellow H. flavipes EU. It has a white top and yellow bottom. Most EU sequences don't match the epitype sequence but instead match our local sequence, so it's possible this will match the real thing if the holotype is sequenced.

Clavaria maricola OR - one of many orange clubs, but this one with a somewhat flattened and maybe wrinkled head like Clavariadelphus, found on conifer debris. We need a type sequence to figure out if this is a Clavaria, Clavariadelphus, or Clavulinopsis or what. No DNA yet.

Clavaria nebulosoides OR - a fawn to brown club originally found on moss under conifers. No DNA yet.

Clavaria5 neonigrita ID - a black club with spiny spores like Ramariopsis, but in a clade of its own in my ITS tree, so I am tentatively calling the genus Clavaria5. One BC collection was a good match to this. If this isn't C. neonigrita, then we need to figure out what is. Sequenced from BC and WA.

'Holocoryne' 'globospora PNW02' © NAMA and the Field Museum of Natural History,     Holocoryne 'flavipes PNW06' (from CA) © Dean Lyons


Clavulinopsis 'luteoalba PNW01' - an orange club, perhaps hollow and with pale tips. Our sequences are within 1% or so in ITS of a few EU type area concepts, in one case most of those differences are in ITS2 and ITS1 is very close. I think this is probably C. luteoalba but for now I'll give it a provisional number.

Clavulinopsis gracillima NY - this is another possible name for what our species is, with some saying they are synonyms. We do have ENA type area sequences and it does appear to be a distinct species. Also, our one local collection matches the DNA of C. luteoalba above, so I believe that is the correct name to use here, not this. Holocoryne flavipes EU and Holocoryne argillacea UK are other species sometimes thought to be the same thing, but we now know that not to be true as we have type sequences of both and they are unique from each other and from C. luteoalba and C. gracillima.

Clavulinopsis laeticolor complex Cuba - an orange club, perhaps not hollow and with tips as dark or darker than the fruitbody. This is another complex of half a dozen or more species worldwide. Perhaps the Brazilian sequences show us which is the real species described from Cuba, but we need a type sequence to know for sure. Clavulinopsis pulchra NY is an east coast name thought to be a synonym, but given how many species are in this complex, it's probably unique. It's possible that is one of our species, but the species may be more localized than that.

Clavulinopsis 'laeticolor PNW02' - one of our members in this complex.

Clavulinopsis 'laeticolor PNW03' - another of our members in this complex.

Clavulinopsis 'laeticolor IN01' - another member, found back east, in CA and in ID so far.

Clavulinopsis 'luteoalba PNW01' © Yi-Min Wang (2nd image is interestingly spathulate)

Clavulinopsis 'laeticolor PNW02' © Oscar David Rodriguez,     C. 'laeticolor PNW03' © Connor Dooley,     C. 'laeticolor IN01' © Michelle Keller-Pearson


Clavulinopsis 'corniculata PNW06' - an orange coral, slightly stockier than Ramariopsis crocea, and with larger, smooth spores. Similar Ramaria have even larger warty spores. We have an EU type sequence in other genes, but not ITS. The ITS sequences we have suggest different species in the EU and ENA, so I'm assuming our species is also distinct, but we don't have local sequences yet. California has a complex of species that are club shaped in this complex, and therefore very hard to tell apart from the C. laeticolor complex, but so far we haven't found those species in the PNW.

Ramariopsis crocea EU - a similar orange coral, more slender than C. corniculata PNW06 with smaller, spiny spores. One WA sequence matches an EU sequence and an ENA sequence within a few ambiguous locations. We have a type sequence in other genes, but not in ITS.

Ramariopsis crocea EU forma conspicua ID - We have the ID type sequence of a local form, with a white stem, and it indeed is distinct in ITS, but we have no recent photographed, sequenced collections.

unsequenced Clavulinopsis 'corniculata PNW06' © Christian Schwarz,     Ramaria crocea © Matthew Koons


Ramariopsis kunzei complex EU - a brilliant white coral, with a cleaner look and less busy branch tips than the many, many similar Ramaria, Lentaria and Clavulina. This is the type species of the genus. It is also a species complex with several species in the EU type area, and at least a couple species in the west. Before these DNA studies, it was thought we only had one white Ramariopsis in the PNW, Ramariopsis kunzei itself. It appears that species doesn't occur here, but three other species do.

Ramariopsis 'kunzei PNW01' - one sequence from OR and one from CA.

Ramariopsis 'kunzei PNW02' - one sequence from BC. With only one photo of each, it's too early to conclude that PNW01 has thicker branches than PNW02.

Ramariopsis flavescens NC - starts out as a white coral but the stem turns yellow in age. Two environmental sequences from OR match the type sequence, and finally it was found fruiting in WA. That collection was noted to have slight yellowing in the base.

Ramariopsis 'kunzei PNW01' © Taye Bright,     R. 'kunzei PNW02' © Aviva Yang,     R. flavescens © Matthew Koons


Clavicorona taxophila NY - We have BC, WA, and CA ITS sequences. We have the LSU of the epitype sequence, and both LSU and ITS of one collection so we know our sequences are this species.

Clavicorona PNW02 - 5% different in ITS from C. taxophila, sequenced once from ID and once from CA. Given that this family often has a complex of species difficult to tell apart, I don't know what distinguishes this species, or the likelihood of it actually being a distinct species.

Clavicorona taxophila © Sadie Hickey (from CA),     C. 'taxophila PNW02' © Stu Pickell (from CA)


Mucronella 'bresadolae PNW01' - white, stemless spines up to 5mm long. One BC sequence does not match EU sequences, so I think our species may need a new name.

Mucronella cf calva EU - white, stemless spines usually much shorter, but accurate measurements are hard to find. EU sequences do not agree on what this species is, and we don't have any local DNA either to know what reports of this species are.

Mucronella fusiformis OR - a white species up to 5mm long with a short white stem. We have no sequenced collections yet of this local species and need some.

Mucronella cf pendula Tasmania - a watery translucent white species up to 8mm long with short yellowish stem. It's thought that local collections with that description are M. pendula, but we have no DNA from anywhere of that species nor of local collections to know.

Mucronella cf alba ENA - some say this species is a newer synonym of M. bresadolae, but others say it's a newer synonym of M. pendula. Perhaps it's neither. I suppose it's possible it's a species that occurs here, so I am listing it, but we don't have any reliable DNA to know what it is.

Mucronella CA01 - this species is entirely yellow-orange up to 3mm long, whereas others may only have a hint of yellow. It has been called Mucronella pulchra Pakistan and Mucronella flava IA but it's probably neither. We have sequences from WA and CA.

unsequenced Mucronella cf calva © Noah Siegel,     unsequenced M. cf. pendula © Alan Rockefeller,     M. CA01 © Sharon Squazzo


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