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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Laccaria and Hydnangium of the PNW
by Danny Miller

Click here for my Pictorial Key to Laccaria


Laccaria have white spores (they lost their spore pigment and are actually inside the brown spored sub-order Agaricineae). They have somewhat waxy-looking, well spaced gills that make you think of the waxy caps. The caps are dry, somewhat hygrophanous and scaly which might make you think of Lepiota, but the gills are always attached. It's hard to describe, but you will soon be able to easily identify them by the fact that they are always orange or purple (or orange and purple) with tough, rough fibrous stems. They are also distinguished by spiny spores under the microscope. They are usually <5cm across, but some grow larger. They are mycorrhizal, usually with conifers in the pine family and often with hardwoods like birch and willow as well.

Trufflized species of Laccaria belong to the sister genus Hydnangium. So far they seem to merit their own genus, instead of the typical situation where the truffles are imbedded in with the non-trufflized species. They are recognized by pink folds and chambers inside.

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:

  • We appear to have additional unnamed species to discover (DNA of 6 distinct unknown species have been recorded).
  • We still need reliable sequences of Laccaria montana, both from the EU and here.
  • Laccaria laccata is not as common here as once thought; Laccaria bicolor is more abundant.

Laccaria with purple - click to expand

The purple tones may be restricted to the mycelium at the base of the stem, and only when fresh, so you may never see the purple.

Species mentioned: Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis, nobilis, bicolor

Laccaria without purple - click to expand

Species mentioned: Laccaria proxima, tortilis, laccata, montana, pumila, longipes


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