© Steve Trudell

Back to Main Menu

Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Deconica of the PNW
by Danny Miller

Click here for my Pictorial Key to Deconica


Deconica - this portion of the large Hymenogastraceae family (or perhaps it should be called a super-family) are usually small LBMs, have dark purple-brown spores, gills that may mottle with unevenly ripening spores like Panaeolus (which are not viscid), a viscid, hygrophanous cap, and unlike the very similar Psilocybe, do not turn blue when injured (lacking the hallucinogen psilocybin). They are usually smaller and more drab coloured than the similar Stropharia (brown or olive brown instead of yellow brown) which are not hygrophanous. See the Psilocybe page for more details of the nomenclature.

Melanotus -  somewhat of an oyster style mushroom, with a small, somewhat eccentric stem, found on wood or sometimes on carpets and textiles! Pale to dark brown. It has a dry cap, and may have regular brown instead of dark purple-brown spores, so it was a real surprise to find that it clades inside of Deconica. Strict rules on monophyly say that it can't therefore keep its own genus, but it is still useful to think of these very different species as their own genus, like Leucocoprinus inside of Leucoagaricus.

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


Deconica (Melanotus) horizontalis EU - dark brown cap cuticle not peeling, spore print brownish. Found both on textiles and wood. A few PNW wild sequences match one EU sequence, but we should sequence textile collections as well as more EU type area sequences to make sure.

Deconica (Melanotus) phillipsii UK - pale grey cap cuticle not peeling, spore print purple-brown. Found on grasses and sedges. I have no sequences of this yet.

Deconica (Melanotus) caricicola UK - brown cap cuticle is peelable, spore print purple-brown. Found on grasses and sedges. We have one sequence perhaps from Eastern Canada that could be this species, but we need both EU and local sequences.

Deconica horizontalis © Paul Kroeger and probable D. horizontalis on a kitchen sponge © Danny Miller



Non-dung obligates - usually not found on dung

Deconica montana EU - Our most common species is found on moss in high elevation forests and does not have a peelable cap cuticle like most others do. Many EU sequences match WA and OR sequences.

Deconica aff. montana/inquilina sp. PNW01 - One OR and one WA collection sequence 2% different from both of those species in the same "not dung specific" clade. It was found at high elevation near moss like D. montana but is on conifer twigs and debris. It might be one of the little-known species below.


Deconica montana © Steve Trudell,     D. aff. montana/inquilina © Yi-Min Wang


Deconica inquilina EU - a species in rotting grass with a peelable cap cuticle long reported from the PNW and now finally verified from WA by DNA to match 18 or so EU sequences. See below for a lookalike.

Deconica cf inquilina but not (sp. PNW02) - found four times in WA (once in dung, once in grass and once on wood debris) and once in CA, with microscopy that is close to D. inquilina, but the sequence is quite far away. These are all habitats that the real D. inquilina can supposedly be found on too. It may also be one of the little-known species below.

Deconica sp. PNW03 - found in a grassy forest trailside, but nothing else is known about it yet. It also may also be one of the non-dung species mentioned below.

Deconica inquilina, sp. PNW02 and sp. PNW03 © Yi-Min Wang


Other Non-dung species - some are still in Psilocybe but because they haven't been noticed to turn blue, we hypothesize they belong in Deconica, but we need sequences to prove it. Also best distinguished microscopically.

Deconica crobula EU -

Deconica phyllogena NY (=rhombispora EU) - we have a few ENA sequences of this

Psilocybe apelliculosa UK -

Psilocybe laticystis OR -

Psilocybe sabulosa KS -

Psilocybe subborealis ID -


Dung obligates

Deconica cf merdaria but not (sp. PNW04) - we have matching sequences from BC, WA and probably ID of collections that look like D. merdaria, but probably aren't, since the couple of sequences of EU collections we have of this EU species are very different, and DNA matching our collections has not been found in Europe yet. It is somewhat large with a trace of a ring and mottled gills.

Deconica sp. PNW04 © Daniel Winkler


Other Dung species - we need sequences from the type areas and locally to figure out what they are and which are found here. They are best distinguished microscopically.

Deconica angustispora WA -

Deconica argentina Argentina -

Deconica coprophila EU -

Deconica merdaria EU -

Deconica moelleri OR -

Deconica subcoprophila EU -


Back to Main Menu