© Sharon Godkin

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

Click here for my Pictorial Key to Lentinellus


There is an impressive amount of morphologic diversity in this family - some gilled mushrooms, a toothed toothpick fungus and some coral.

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.

Lentinellus - click to expand

This family has a genus of gilled mushrooms, less common than Russula and Lactarius in the core Russulaceae family of the Russulales. They are an oyster style mushroom, growing on wood with white spores, with their most distinctive character being serrated gill edges when mature. They are not all monomitic, as some have skeletel hyphae making them tougher than the average gilled mushroom (like polypores). They are most easily mistaken for Neolentinus, also with serrated gill edges, and also on wood with white spores, which usually have more central and/or thicker fleshed stems, in the order Gloeophyllales which also contains some dark fleshed polypores.

  • stems absent or eccentric or fused together, otherwise thin and cartilaginous and seldom more than 5 mm thick (unlike Neolentinus).
  • Always a boring shade of brown.

The species are told apart by size (caps usually <3 cm vs. ~10 cm), whether or not there is a stem and if those stems all fuse together.

Species mentioned: Lentinellus occidentalis, subargillaceus, flabelliformis, micheneri, cochleatus, umbilicatus, vulpinus, montanus, ursinus, castoreus


Auriscalpium 'vulgare CA01' - This little toothpick fungus is a tough, woody toothed mushroom with a long stem that comes out of the side of the cap. It grows on conifer cones. Collections with a central stem and sharp umbo have both been sequenced and do not differ at all in ITS. Two WA sequences, an OR sequence, an ID sequence, and CA sequences all match each other but are 3% different than the numerous sequences made in Europe, so our species likely needs a new name.


Auriscalpium 'vulgare CA01' © Steve Trudell


Artomyces are club and coral fungi found on conifer logs that have "crown" tips. By crown tips, I mean around the perimeter of the top of each branch, a half dozen or fewer teeth or star-like points might arise (see the detail in the photos). Corals appear in several other orders, but with different branch tips. The exception is Clavicorona taxiphila, which is more singularly club-like than any Artomyces, with somewhat similar tips (more wavy around the perimeter than pointy) found on the ground or small twigs that is unrelated to the Russulales but in the basal Clavariaceae family of the Agaricales.


Artomyces piperatus WA - This is a supposedly peppery tasting coral. Described from Washington. The DNA we have is from AK, BC and OR. It is supposedly only on conifers in the PNW. The OR collection (pictured) did not have the peppery taste, yet an OR sequence of A. cristatus, below, did, so the peppery taste does not seem to be informative as to species.

Artomyces piperatus © Leah Bendlin


Artomyces cristatus OR - This is a supposedly mild tasting club that sometimes has a few branches like coral, but isn't nearly as branched as Artomyces piperatus. Described from Oregon and we have DNA from OR and CA that almost certainly represents this species. It is also on conifers. One OR collection was distinctly peppery, so the taste does not seem to be indicative of species.

Artomyces cristatus © Jonathan Frank and Leah Bendlin


Artomyces divaricatus ID - This is a coral that is probably incorrectly placed in Artomyces, as the tips are not crowned and the microscopy is too different. The current consensus is that it is a species of Lentaria. We need collections to find out. It was described from Idaho and reported from Arizona, so it seems to be a rare Rocky Mountain species.

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