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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – non-waxy Hygrophorineae of the PNW
by Danny Miller


There's not just one clade of this sub-order that "looks waxy" or one that "doesn't", it's more complicated than that. 4- and 6-gene studies suggests that the waxy genera - Cuphophyllus, Hygrophorus and Hygrocybe s.l. (incl. Gliophorus, Humidicutis and Gloioxanthomyces in the PNW) either became waxy in 3 or more separate events, or all of the genera on this page lost their waxiness in several different events. Nothing much unites these genera, unfortunately, although some are still quite colourful like the waxies (but others are very drab). There's no good way without DNA to know you have a mushroom on this page unless you go through a rather complicated key.

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.

Summary of Interesting Results

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

  • tbd

Ampulloclitocybe - click to expand

Clitocyboid. Grey or brown slightly umbonate (yet depressed in age) caps, strongly decurrent white gills. Resembles Cantharellula (below) but without the forking gills that stain red in age and without amyloid spores. (Pseudoclitocybe in the Tricholomatineae has no umbo, no forking, no staining and amyloid spores). Lacking amyloid spores, this genus is especially difficult to separate from Clitocybe. If the umbo is obvious, that will help.

Species mentioned: Ampulloclitocybe clavipes, avellaneialba, avellaneoalba. Clitocybe subclavipes.

Arrhenia s.l. - click to expand

There are two very distinct looks for Arrhenia, and some species of the first type don't have strong support for belonging to this genus.

  • small brown to dark brown (rarely greenish) omphalinoids on wood or moss (other omphalinoids are not usually as dark brown, but consider Omphalina itself for yellow-brown, warm brown, or pinkish-red brown species on moss, and Lichenomphalia below if the stem base has granular or leafy lichen mateial).
  • small dark brown (rarely pale grey) "oysters" with eccentric/lateral/missing stems (but growing on the ground in moss, not on wood) sometimes with poorly developed gills. Rimbachia and Muscinupta, both usually pure white (unlike Arrhenia), also may lack gills and grow on moss on the ground. One possible interpretation of Rimbachia (genus B) is near Arrhenia and covered here. Muscinupta has a tapering fluted "stem".

Species mentioned: Arrhenia acerosa, subglobisemen, lobata, auriscalpium, retiruga, chlorocyanea, epichysium, hohensis, latispora, obscurata, onisca, peltigerina, pubescentipes, rainierensis, sphagnicola. Rimbachia neckerae.

Cantharellula - click to expand

Clitocyboid. Grey or brown slightly umbonate (yet depressed in age) caps, strongly decurrent white gills. So far that describes Ampulloclitocybe, but these have forking gills that stain red in age and amyloid spores. (Pseudoclitocybe in the Tricholomatineae has no umbo, no forking, no staining and amyloid spores).

Species mentioned: Cantharellula umbonata, oregonensis.

Cantharocybe - click to expand

A large and stocky, bright yellow, strongly decurrent mushroom often with an off centre stem. It's sort of waxy.

Species mentioned: Cantharocybe gruberi.

Chrysomphalina - click to expand

Colourful (almost waxy), small mushrooms growing on wood with dry caps. They also have decurrent gills an may be hygrophanous.

In fact, this genus is inside the Hygrocybe s.l. clade of waxy caps, but as the wood habitat is unusual and they are not usually thought of as waxies, I deal with them on this page.

Species mentioned: Chrysomphalina aurantiaca, grossula, chrysophylla

Hygrophorocybe s.l. - click to expand

Somewhat waxy looking, otherwise clitocyboid. It wasn't even known what sub-order this genus belonged in until a multi-gene study finally placed it sister to Cuphophyllus, which makes sense. Soon we will know if our species belong in Hygrophorocybe or a new sister genus. Stay tuned.

Lichenomphalia and Protolichenomphalia - click to expand

One of two known PNW basidiolichen genera (algae usually pair with ascos to form a lichen). The other is Multiclavula, a club. Yellowish tan to brown omphalinoids with grainy or leafy lichen material at the stem base (unlike the very similar Arrhenia, Omphalina, etc.). Our most abundant species may need a new genus.

Pseudoarmillariella - click to expand

Medium sized thin-fleshed funnel shaped Clitocyboids on conifer logs. Yellowish-tan radially streaky cap, occasional forked gills that are sometimes quite yellow. Amyloid spores. No other fair-sized white spored mushroom quite like it grows out of logs, even though if you found it growing from the ground you'd be stumped. In fact, I was stumped once when it was on buried wood and the caps were grey (but the gills still showed the yellow).

Spodocybe - click to expand

Small somewhat felty grey Clitocyboids.

Species mentioned: Spodocybe senilis, trulliformis.


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