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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.

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, and a PNW sequence from a burlap bag from Hondurus matches them both, so this is the same species both in the wild and on urban textiles.

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 © Matthew Koons,     unsequenced D. horizontalis © Paul Kroeger,     unsequenced 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 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 lookalikes.

Deconica cokeriana AL - only recently discovered outside of ENA, a peelable cap cuticle is not mentioned in the description. This species appears to have numerous fibrils or universal veil material on the cap and stem.


Deconica montana © Yi-Min Wang,     D. inquilina © Yi-Min Wang,     D. cokeriana (2 images) © Yi-Min Wang


Deconica 'inquilina PNW01' - One OR and one WA collection sequence 2% different from D. inquilina in the same "not dung specific" clade as that species and D. montana. It was found at high elevation near moss like D. montana but growing on conifer twigs and debris. This (and any of the following unnamed species) might be one of the little-known species below.

Deconica 'inquilina PNW06' - found twice in WA in moss, this is another sequence close to D. inquilina (about 1% different but clearly distinct in the tree).

Deconica PNW07 - another moss species found once near Victoria, BC.

Deconica 'inquilina PNW02' - found three times in WA (once in dung, once in grass and once on wood debris) and once in CA. These are all habitats that the real D. inquilina can supposedly be found on too, and the microscopy is also close to D. inquilina, but the sequences are much further away than PNW01 and PNW06.

Deconica PNW03 - found in a grassy forest trailside, but nothing else is known about it yet.

Deconica PNW05 - found twice in WA on a stick (and once not), so sticks may be a common habitat for it. This species also has the most strongly angled spores in face view, while those viewed from the side are the usual elliptical shape.

Deconica PNW08 - found once in Seattle under conifers and oak in moss and grass.

Deconica 'inquilina PNW01' and D. 'inquilina PNW06' © Yi-Min Wang,     D. PNW07 © James Holkko,     D. PNW08 © Shannon Adams

Deconica 'inquilina PNW02', D. PNW03, PNW05, and PNW05 angled spores © 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. Some of the above unnamed species may end up being some of these.

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 'coprophila PNW04' - we have matching sequences from BC, WA and probably ID of collections that have been called D. coprophila or D. merdaria, but probably aren't either species, since the few sequences we have from the EU of these species are 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 'coprophila 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. D. 'coprophila PNW04' could be one of these.

Deconica angustispora WA -

Deconica argentina Argentina -

Deconica chionophila EU (=Deconica semistriata NY?) - similar to D. montana, an alpine snowbank species that grows parasitic on Polytrichum norvegicum reported once from Idaho. It may be hard to figure out if those two are synonyms and which are in the PNW, as the type collection for the former can't be found.

Deconica coprophila EU -

Deconica merdaria EU -

Deconica moelleri OR -

Deconica subcoprophila EU -


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