© Noah Siegel

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

Click here for my Pictorial Key to Hebeloma


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

Hebeloma - viscid capped boring brown mushrooms found on the ground, never with a ring but some with a cortina (cobweb veil) like Cortinarius. They are fragrant, usually like radish or sweet smelling.

Dr. Henry Beker is leading a team of people creating an amazing project documenting worldwide Hebeloma. Single handedly, they are transforming Hebeloma from some of the least understood LBMs on the planet to one of the best documented genera. This is a very difficult genus of species mostly separated microscopically, so if they can do this for Hebeloma, there's no reason why almost any other genus can't be similarly documented. They have already released "Fungi Europaei Volume 14 - Hebeloma" for Europe and are working on a North American monograph now. You'll want a copy of this when it's done, but until then, I am allowed to say that "unpublished research indicates the presence of the following species in the PNW".

Section Hebeloma subsection Hebeloma - veiled (cortinate) - radish odor, dark cap, somewhat stout?, almost smooth, almost non-dextrinoid spores

Hebeloma mesophaeum complex EU - Along with the cobweb veil and typical radish odor, the caps are somewhat darkly pigmented, at least on the disc, although often paler on the rim (two toned). We usually identify any mushroom in this section and the next (veiled with a dark disc) as Hebeloma mesophaeum. It turns out that a number of species share very similar ITS (usually within 2 bp that are not ambiguous, maybe 3) and so they cannot be distinguished by DNA sequencing of that region. Yet they do have clear microscopic or ecological differences and Dr. Beker is keeping them as separate species. If you don't have all that data and don't want to wade through the keys and descriptions of all of them, you would be forgiven for thinking of all of the following species simply as subsection Hebeloma. Just be sure you don't have something in subsection Amygdalina, described next, microscopically different and perhaps with a slightly more slender stem. Subsection Hebeloma are common as a group.

H, mesophaeum EU (=H. lateritium WA) - known from every state and province in the PNW.

H. angelesiense WA (=H. pseudostrophosum WA) -

H. dunense EU -

H. alpinicola ID (=H. nigromaculatum OR, =H. perigoense CO) -

H. excedens NY -

H. marginatulum EU -

ITS DNA will not well distinguish any of the above species.

H. colvinii NY - we only have old, almost 100 year old rumours of this species being here.

Hebeloma section Hebeloma subsection Hebeloma © Noah Siegel



Section Hebeloma subsection Amygdalina - (perhaps more slender?, with distinctly but finely verrucose distinctly dextrinoid spores and perhaps more amygdaline shaped spores)

Species in this section differ microscopically from subsection Hebeloma and may appear more slender (but don't count on it). Except for some collections of H. praeolidium which sometimes has a sweetish odor instead of the usual radish odor, these have probably all been mistakenly called H. mesophaeum in the past. They are much more uncommon here than those in subsection Hebeloma.

H. hygrophilum EU -

H. clavulipes EU -

H. praeolidum WA - may have a sweetish or radish odor

ITS DNA will not well distinguish any of the above species

Hebeloma praeolidum © Buck McAdoo



Section Scabrispora - scant veil (cortinate), paler cinnamon caps - (range of scents, somewhat bitter?)

Hebeloma amarellum CA - these species have scanter veils and paler caps than the other veiled sections above usually with a cinnamon tinge. This species usually has a bitter taste and lacks much of an odor.

Hebeloma parcivelum OR - this species is said to lack much of an odor or taste, perhaps weakly bitter.

Hebeloma olympianum WA - weak odor and taste

Hebeloma amarellum © Buck McAdoo



Section Denudata - pale caps (poison pie), no veil, spores not dextrinoid, stems not usually bulbous

These are some of the species commonly referred to as "poison pie", along with species in section Velutipes. You should be able to figure out which of the two sections your poison pie is in, but getting to species is currently very difficult, even with DNA, as some species share DNA with each other in each section.

H. crustuliniforme EU - Hebeloma aanenii EU - ITS DNA will not well distinguish these two species.

H. helodes EU -

H. vaccinum EU - H. cavipes EU - ITS DNA will not well distinguish these two species.

Hebeloma cavipes © A & O Ceska



Section Velutipes - pale caps (poison pie), no veil, spore dextrinoid, stems often bulbous

This is the other section containing "poison pie" like species, also difficult to differentiate beyond section. Besides having dextrinoid spores, the species here are more likely to have a stem bulb.

H. velutipes EU (=H. latisporum ID, =H. salmonense ID) - found everywhere

H. incarnatulum MI -

H. albidulum NY - old rumour from BC?

ITS DNA will not well distinguish any species in this section. H. velutipes may be the most common species of Hebeloma in the world. Our local collections have many ambiguous locations in their sequences (up to 20!)

Hebeloma velutipes © Buck McAdoo



Section Sinapizantia - very large, scaly stem, no veil

H. megacarpum MI - this species is easy to recognize with its large 15cm cap and scaly stem up to 3cm thick. It also has a strong radish odor. We used to call it Hebeloma sinapizans until genetics figured out the correct name for our species.

Hebeloma megacarpum © Buck McAdoo



Section Sacchariolenta - sweet odor, no veil

Hebeloma sacchariolens EU - this sweet smelling  (but not usually like chocolate) species, unlike H. praeolidium above, has no veil, and always smells sweet. One sequence differs by 4 bp from the others, but shares morphology and ecology and is likely the same species.

Hebeloma sacchariolens © Michael Beug



Section Theobromina - occasional odors of stale chocolate (pungent) give this section its name

Hebeloma kelloggense ID - finds of this species may have been going by the name Hebeloma theobrominum EU but that species does not seem to occur here, and nobody noticed we had our own species already described from Idaho. If these species do have a veil, it is hard to detect.

Hebeloma kelloggense © A & O Ceska



Section Naviculospora - best recognized microscopically?

Hebeloma avellaneum WA - this section as a whole is defined microscopically (like all sections) but this species might be recognized by an orange tinged pale cap that is somewhat frosted with canescense.

Hebeloma pungens OR - also best recognized microscopically, this species may have a pungent radish-like odor and a scaly stem.



Section Syrjense - "corpse finders"

Species in this section are famous for being able to fruit above human remains, but otherwise need to be identified microscopically. Hebeloma syrjense EU DNA was found on root tips of trees in the interior of BC, so it's possible it could fruit here too.

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