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


This is a family of non-gilled clubs and fan corals (shown here) as well as some gilled mushrooms (shown separately) in an order whose macrofungi are mostly polypores. Many of these non-polypores are moss associates.

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.

Alloclavaria - smoky purplish clubs.

Cotylidia - pale coloured (white to pinkish) fan corals. This genus needs to be split.

Muscinupta - delicate whitish moss-inhabiting inverted cups on a pseudo-stem. The underside may have slight wrinkles. It's hard to characterize, some think of it as gilled, or veined, or a cup or none of the above. It most resembles some Arrhenia and Rimbachia.

Sidera - white poroid crusts, not covered yet.

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' fumosoides WA (=Clavaria occidentalis OR) - smoky to purplish club. While it is not currently thought of as a moss associate, it is interesting to note that C. occidentlalis was described as growing on Musci moss, and that seems to have been forgotten. Similar clubs that are different colours and not moss associated are found in the Clavariaceae, an early branch of the gilled mushroom order Agaricales. (It's interesting that purple is a common colour in the Rickenellaceae for both gilled and non-gilled species).

In the EU they have Alloclavaria purpurea EU. The west coast has a very distinct species, 10% different in ITS, Both Kauffman and Zelleri thought our species might be different than C. purpurea and described it separately. In Zeller's case, he noticed the spore were slightly roughened and the basidia were a different size than than the EU species. Subsequent mycologists thought those differences were too slight to matter, and synonymized them, but our DNA sequencing has shown that Kauffman and Zeller were probably right. Kauffman's name beat Zeller's name by one year (1928 vs. 1929). Clavaria fumosoides needs to be moved to Alloclavaria fumosoides.

'Clavaria' nebulosa NFLD - The east coast and the Rockies and the PNW have a bright purple species which needs moving to Alloclavaria. It was thought to be a synonym of A. purpurea, but east coast type area sequences are unique and might represent this species, sequenced from Oregon.

'Clavaria' fumosoides © Kathryn True,     'Clavaria' nebulosa © Autumn Anglin


Cotylidia are pale fan corals on moss with smooth to slightly wrinkled undersides. Dark fan corals are found in Thelephora. Cotylidia may need to be split into 3 genera, and some of the species reported from here are not in Cotylidia s.s., where the type species Cotylidia undulata EU seems to be. I don't have type sequences, so this hasn't been proven yet, but this is my working theory.

Cotylidia undulata EU - surprisingly, our first sequence of an orange Cotylidia was this species, not the orange species that had been reported from here, C. pannosa.

Cotylidia2 cf diaphana OH - white to tan vase or funnel shaped fan coral that may split into petals/lobes. We have east coast sequences that probably show us what this is, and a matching BC sequence.

Cotylidia3 cf pannosa UK - has orange tones. We have an EU sequence that might be this, but no local DNA to compare. When we first sequenced an orange Cotylidia, it was C. undulata, not this as expected. We need local collections of this.

Cotylidia undulata © Connor Dooley,     unsequenced Cotylidia2 cf diaphana © Andrew Parker,     unsequenced cf Cotylidia3 pannosa © Buck McAdoo


Muscinupta are delicate whitish moss-inhabiting inverted cups on a pseudo-stem.

Muscinupta PNW01 - pure white? It is commonly assumed to be Muscinupta laevis EU, but our sequences are 7 bp different than EU sequences so our species may be distinct.

Muscinupta PNW02 - concentric areas of grey? The DNA surprised us by showing 2 distinct clades, about equally distant from the EU species M. laevis. Either they are all one species with variable ITS of at least 1%, or we have 2 distinct species. It is interesting to note that based on only one photo, PNW01 appears to be white and PNW02 appears to be greyish. We need more collections of both to investigate this.

Muscinupta PNW01 © Jamie Labron and Breanne Johnson,     Muscinupta PNW02 © Danny Miller


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