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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – gilled Rickenellaceae s.l. of the PNW (Hymenochaetales)
by Danny Miller

Click here for my Pictorial Key to the Rickenellaceae.


This is a family of gilled mushrooms (shown here) and clubs/fan corals (shown separately) in an order whose macrofungi are mostly polypores. These are brightly coloured (orange, purple or pink) omphalinoid moss/liverwort dwelling gilled mushrooms. It certainly was a surprise to learn that this group of gilled mushrooms were in the "other" order of polypores, the Hymenochaetales. It represents yet another example of convergent evolution.

A 2023 7-gene study found that the Hymenochaetales are probably split into two clades, that I am calling Hymenochaetaceae s.l. (containing most of the polypores in the order) and Rickenellaceae s.l. (containing the gilled mushrooms and the non-gilled mushrooms that mostly aren't polypores). When I say probably, I mean they couldn't prove it definitively (although with 7 genes it seems pretty conclusive to me). They did not feel they had enough evidence that the two clades held together as two families, but for some reason they did feel they had enough evidence to start splitting up the order into 33 families and genera, where those genera not in one of their families will probably end up needing their own families if this trend is to continue. With such strong evidence that the order is divided into two clades, I am going to treat it as two families instead of going down a path that will end up with dozens of confusing families, where often times each genus will get its own family. Their justification? Each genus diverged from the other genera as long ago as some families diverged from each other in other orders, and they think a family level classification should reflect a group that diverged between 27 and 178 million years ago. My opinion is that a genetic tree has a near-infinite number of branches and we have chosen to give only a small percentage of them a name to help us comprehend them - the most commonly referred to seven levels being species, genus, family, order, class, phylum and kingdom. Since there are so few levels with names, and so many actual branches in the tree, we should give one of those names to a node that makes sense from a human perspective that helps us understand the relationships best, and I'm not sure that study's classification system accomplishes that.

Rickenella - small, slender, fragile, long-stemmed orange or purple moss dwelling omphalinoids covered in cystidia on the cap and stem.

Loreleia - very similar orange omphalinoids perhaps with paler stems on liverworts, but lacking cystidia. In a multi-gene study of Trichaptum, this genus is separate from the other two and may need it's own family.

Contumyces - a pinkish moss dwelling omphalinoid.

Cantharellopsis - a small, white omphalinoid in moss, but with ridge-like gills like a chanterelle.

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.


Rickenella fibula EU - somewhat bright orange. EU sequences may vary by 1/2 %, and some eastern NA sequences by up to 1%, but almost a dozen local sequences are within 1/2 % of most EU sequences.

Rickenella 'fibula PNW01' - one WA sequence matches the minority of EU and ENA sequences that are about 1% apart. I'm not sure which is the real one or that they deserve distinct species status. Our collection was especially brightly coloured.

Rickenella mellea EU - not known from the PNW before sequencing, paler orange, less prominent cystidia and perhaps larger spores. Our one WA sequence is only a couple bp from three EU sequences and some ENA sequences.

Rickenella schwartzii EU - purple! (Either all purple or sometimes also with orange. I don't know why purple and orange seem to go together as in Laccaria). CA and WA sequences match a half dozen EU and ENA sequences quite well.

Rickenella fibula © Jacob Kalichman,     R. 'fibula PNW01' © T. Abe Lloyd,     R. mellea © Sadie Hickey,     unsequenced R. swartzii © Noah Siegel


Loreleia cf postii EU - orange, pale stem, somewhat larger than Rickenella fibula, on liverworts with less prominent cystidia. The similar Hygrocybe cantharellus has a scaly cap. We need sequences of this. The only purported collection that was sequenced was an LSU sequence and it was inside the genus Omphalina. Since this is the type species of the genus, we need sequences to anchor it with the other species.

Loreleia marchantiae EU - much like Rickenella fibula but on liverworts with less prominent cystidia.  Our one WA collection matches an EU type area sequence, and perhaps an ENA sequence, so this species appears to be widespread.

unsequenced Loreleia postii © Andrew Parker,     L. marchantiae © Regina Johnson and Autumn Anglin (2 images)


Contumyces rosellus EU group - pinkish omphalinoids on moss. Contumyces seems to have been erroneously moved to Loreleia, as the genetics seem to bear out that it belongs in its own genus, so that is how I am treating it.

PNW01 - We don't have EU sequences but a California and Australian sequence match, along with a short WA sequence

PNW02 - two WA sequences match an east coast sequence, not the above. We need EU type area sequences to see which species is the real one, and probably a new name for the other.

Contumyces 'rosellus PNW01' and 'rosellus PNW02' © Danny Miller and Yi-Min Wang


Cantharellopsis PNW01 - a whitish omphalinoid on moss, but with the vein-like gills of a chanterelle. Our sequences are about 1.5% different than ENA and EU sequences purporting to be Cantharellopsis prescottii Russia.

Cantharellopsis PNW01 © Anne Polyakov


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