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


The Sordariomycetes, sometimes known as flask fungi, make their asci inside little volcanos called perithecia, placed around the fertile surface like a bunch of pimples. The spaces between the perithecia are sterile. In a way, these fungi may be sacrificing quantity for quality, as the spores might be more forcibly ejected out the openings of the "volcanos" and travel further. The asexual stage of fungi do not have asci (asci are a sexual structure) and therefore if you find a Sordariomycete species in the asexual stage, it will not be pimpled, but you can often tell the sexual stage of a Sordariomycete by the pimpled surface.

This page covers the large order Hypocreales. Try here first for clubs and crusts covered in pimples in their sexual stage that are not black and carbonaceous (those are usually in the Xylariales). For the asexual stage without pimples, recognizing them is going to be more difficult, but try here first for clubs that don't grow on the ground, but instead on wood, other mushrooms, or insects. Also try here first for crusts that don't grow on wood, but instead on other mushrooms and insects.

Nowhere is the problem of sexual and asexual forms of a mushroom more complex than on this page, so here is where I will explain it. The asexually reproductive fruitbody (anamorph) and the sexually reproductive fruitbody (teleomorph) of the same species can sometime be unrecognizably different. This page has a good many of them. In fact, many of these mushrooms were given two names in two different genera, until DNA showed us how they paired up. So now that we only want one name to win out, which is it? Typically the teleomorph name wins out, even if the anamorph name is older, so that is the name I will use below, but exceptions have been made. Trichoderma may win out against Hypocrea.

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.



Hypomyces lactifluorum NC - lobster mushroom. A hard, orange pimpled crust completely covers a parasitized Russula subgenus brevipes. Unlike most molds, this improves the taste and texture of the food it grows on, making the Russula tastier and even more crunchy. An asexual stage has not been found. Local sequences match ENA sequences.

Hypomyces 'luteovirens PNW02' - our hard, green to yellow-green lobster on Russula and Lactarius, with the pimpled green surface covering at least the gills. Local sequences differ significantly from EU type area sequences. We should consider that this could be Hypomyces macrosporus AL.

Hypomyces ochraceus EU (=Hypomyces armeniacus EU) - a cottony white mold all over Russula and Lactarius (asexual). The sexual stage is rare and is a pale orange pimpled crust that forms after the mushroom is mostly dessicated (not as bright or well formed as the lobster mushroom). One WA sequence matches EU sequences of both species.

Hypomyces cf lateritius EU - occasionally a white cottony mold (like H. ochraceus but usually only on the gills) on Lactarius (asexual), but more commonly a hard off-white pimpled crust on said gills (sexual). We have ENA DNA but no EU type area DNA and we need local collections.

unsequenced Hypomyces lactifluorum (sexual) © Steve Trudell,     H. 'luteovirens PNW02' (sexual) and H. ochraceus (asexual) © NAMA and the Field Museum of Natural History,     imsequenced H. cf lateritius (sexual) © Michael Beug


Hypomyces chrysospermus PNW01 - a white mold usually on boletes, eventually turning yellow. This is the asexual stage. Rarely you'll see the red sexual stage with pimples. There are 2 competing concepts in the EU for this, and one OR sequences matches one of them but I don't know if it's the real thing. The OR collection was on a gilled mushroom, but I can't rule out that it was a Paxillus or something in the Boletales. A CA collection on a bolete (Porphyrellus) is the other EU concept. We need PNW collections on boletes.

Hypomyces microspermus MA - similar and sister to H. chrysospermus, differentiated microscopically by smaller spores in both stages. This is the teleomorph (sexual) name, but it has an older anamorph (asexual) name from the EU. It may well be that our common "bolete eater" is this instead of H. chrysospermus as OR and CA sequences are on common boletes.

Hypomyces cervinigenus WA - an asexual white or pink cottony mold on Helvella. The sexual stage is rare. We have several PNW sequences.

Hypomyces hyalinus NC - a pimpled white mold on aborted Amanitas (sexual). No known asexual stage. We have an IN sequence that may represent this, but no local DNA yet.

Hypomyces 'chrysospermus PNW01' (asexual) © Stephen Russell,     H. microspermus (asexual) and H. cervinigenus (asexual) © NAMA and the Field Museum of Natural History,     unsequenced H. hyalinus © Richard Morrison


Hypomyces aurantius EU - an orange pimpled crust on polypores (sexual). I don't have a description of the asexual stage. One WA sequence matches EU sequences.

Hypocrea americana NY/Protocrea farinosa UK - similar but duller, have been reported without genetic evidence yet.

Hypomyces rosellus EU or ENA - a white to pink cottony crust on polypores and many other mushrooms, with bright red pimples (sexual). The asexual stage is a rarer, delicate yellow to red mycelium. EU and WNA sequences match, but I don't have any ENA sequences and I'm not sure which area will be designated as the type.

Hypomyces aurantius © NAMA and the Field Museum of Natural History,     unsequenced H. rosella (sexual) © Sandra Ruffner and (asexual) © Andrew Parker


Nectria cinnabarina EU - tiny red spheres on wood each with a pimple (sexual stage) or creamy pink to orange blobs (asexual). CA sequences are close to the EU epitype sequence, and so are sequences purporting to be N. dematosia EU. We need local collections.

Nectria pithoides BC - red pimples on yellow tiny spheres on wood (sexual). No DNA yet. Many species of Nectria are reported from here, but which other ones occur has not been well studied.

Nectriopsis violacea EU - tiny purple pimpled spheres (sexual) on the yellow slime mold Fuligo septica. An OR sequence matches the EU epitype sequence well.

Neonectria (Corinectria) fuckeliana EU/Hydropisphaera/Calonectria - and other similar mushrooms have been reported without genetic evidence yet.

Nectria cinnabarina complex (showing both asexual and sexual) © Rudy Diaz (from CA),     soon to be sequenced Nectriopsis violacea © Heidi Hoelting


Stilbella byssiseda EU - a white spiny ball on slime molds (which could be on forest debris or wood) (asexual). The sexual pimpled stage is not known. Not known from the PNW until two BC and WA sequences matched 2 EU type area sequences.

Tilachlidium brachiatum EU - long white threads growing from another mushroom. It was not known from the PNW until sequenced on a Stereum in WA, matching a bunch of EU type area sequences.

Sphaerostilbella PNW01 (=Gliocladium) - white crested orange tubes growing out of decaying Stereum. One WA collection is about 2% different in ITS from Gliocladium penicillioides EU (the asexual form) and Sphaerostilbella aureonitens EU (the sexual form, thought to be a synonym). Our collection seems to be the asexual form.

Stilbella byssiseda © Jesse Walters,     Tilachlidium brachiatum © Jack Johnson,     Sphaerostilbella PNW01 © Matthew Koons


Epichloe typhina EU - a rusty pimpled crust on grasses (sexual). We have EU type area sequence but need local collections.

Claviceps purpurea EU - wheat ergot. It starts out as dark purple little sausage shaped sclerotia on grasses (the original source of LSD, and some blame the salem witch trial hallucinations on this species). The next year the sclerotia sprout little orange clubs with a round, pimpled head, resembling Cordyceps, rarely seen. (sexual). EU type area sequences show >1% of variation in ITS, and BC, OR and CA sequences are within that tolerance.


unsequenced Epichloe typhina © Jamie Axall (2 images),     Claviceps purpurea (from CA) © iNaturalist user crothfels


Nectriopsis tubariicola UK (on Tubaria)/Hypocrea latizonata (on Cyathus) OH/Hypocrea sulphurea (yellow on Exidia) PN/Hypomyces stephanomatis (on Humaria) NC/Hypomyces leotiicola (on Leotia) NC - unless the colour is otherwise specified, these are other white molds parasitizing other mushrooms that are reported from here without genetic evidence yet.

Cosmospora berkeleyana EU - an almost invisibly small red dot parasite on Hypoxylon-like species in the Xylariales. We do have DNA from WA that falls within the 4% range of ITS found in EU sequences. This species may be too small to merit covering here.


Hypocrea is the sexual stage name and Trichoderma is the asexual stage name. Typically, as explained in the introduction, the sexual stage name would win out, but Trichoderma has been in such common usage that it may win out this time. Ironically, the species covered here are usually found in their sexual stage.

Hypocrea pulvinata/Trichoderma pulvinatum EU - yellowish cushion shaped pimpled blobs on polypores. A BC sequence matches many EU type area sequences.

Hypocrea strictipilosa PQ/H. lixii Papua New Guinea - and other similar species have also been reported without genetic evidence.

Hypocrea alutacea/Trichoderma alutaceum EU - thick white clubs with irregular yellow heads on wood or debris. The heads don't need to be that irregular, just not perfectly rounded, to be this species. The pimples are hard to see (sexual). An OR and WA sequence match the type sequence fairly closely.

Hypocrea leucopus/Trichoderma leucopus EU - like T. alutaceum but with a regular club-shaped head. We have a NY sequence matching the EU type, but need local sequences to prove this species is even here, since a somewhat rounded head collection turned out to be T. alutaceum.

Hypocrea pulvinata © Kahsennaroroks Deom,     H. alutacea © Danny Miller,     H. leucopus (from NY) © Garrett Taylor


Tolypocladium (Elaphocordyceps) 'capitatum PNW01' - a reddish brown round head on a yellow club, growing from Elaphomyces deer truffles. This is a species complex around the world, so we need EU type area sequences to know which species is the real one. We do have 2 species in the PNW.

Tolypocladium 'capitatum PNW02' - differs by >5% in ITS from PNW01. I don't know how to tell them apart.

Tolypocladium ophioglossoides EU -an orange elongated head that turns black on a yellow club, with yellow rhizomorphs at the base, growing on Elaphomyces deer truffles. We have some EU sequences and a WA sequence that matches.

Tolypocladium inflatum EU -an odd shape, like a pile of white cotton with yellow nipples, on beetle larvae and other hosts. This is the original source of cyclosporine, the immuno-suppresor. One sequence that might be from OR matches many EU sequences, but we need more local collections to prove it's here.

Tolypocladium 'capitatum PNW01' © Reid Olsen,     T. 'capitatum PNW02' © Sadie Hickey,     unsequenced T. ophioglossoides © Connor Dooley,     unsequenced Tolypocladium inflatum (from NY) © Connor Dooley


Insect parasites - besides Tolypocladium inflatum, above, several genera, including the famous Cordyceps, parasitize insects. You might have heard stories of Cordyceps infecting ants and taking over their brains to make them act in a way that helps disperse their spores. The zombie show "The Last of Us" is based on the concept of a species of Cordyceps learning to do that to humans.


Akanthomyces cf. aculeatus EU - covers dead moths on the roof of caves in a white mold with spikes. Asexual. We have conflicting sequences purporting to be this, none from the type area. We need a type sequence and local collections.

Beauveria bassiana EU - a white cottony mold on various insects. Asexual. This species is cultivated to create insect pesticides. We have the EU type sequence, but no local sequences match. Read on.

Beauveria pseudobassiana VA - this newer species can be mistaken for B. bassiana and one WA collection matches the VA type, so perhaps this is our species too and B. bassiana doesn't occur here.

Beauveria brongniartii Algeria - an irregularly shaped white mold on various insects. Asexual. We have an OR collection matching the type sequence.

Cordyceps (Isaria) 'farinosa PNW01' - Isaria was the name given to asexual Cordyceps fruitings, but now Cordyceps is the proper genus for all Isaria. This asexual beautiful fungus are orange clubs growing out of insects with the heads of the orange clubs covered in white mold. Most sequences given the name C. farinosa don't match the epitype sequence, but are this species.

Cordyceps (Isaria) farinosa EU - similar, but the branches seem sparser and thinner in our two local collections. We have an epitype sequence (that doesn't match most sequences with this name). We have one matching OR sequence.

Engyodontium 'aranearum PNW01' - matching one of the possible concepts of this EU species, this was a cottony mold completely covering a spider in the Seattle underground tour.

unseuenced Akanthomyces aculeatus © Danny Miller,     Beauveria pseudobassiana © Matthew Koons,     B. brongniartii © iNaturalist user stellar_viscera


Cordyceps 'farinosa PNW01' © Matthew Koons (2 images),     Cordyceps farinosa © Connor Dooley and Matthew Koons,     Engyodontium 'aranearum PNW01' © Matthew Koons



Cordyceps bifusispora EU - yellow pimpled clubs with an elongated head growing out of insects. Two WA sequences match EU sequences within 1/2-1%.

Cordyceps washingtonensis WA - similar, with smaller spores. No DNA yet, but it's interesting that C. bifusispora was not known from the PNW until fruitbodies matching the description of C. washingtonensis were sequenced and turned out to be C. bifusispora. The relationship between these two species needs to be worked out.

Cordyceps californica np - yellow-orange pimpled clubs with an elongated head growing out of caterpillars and larval cocoons. One AK sequence matches some EU sequences, but there are a number of possible species in the complex in the EU, and we have no idea which one is the real thing. Our one local BC sequence was none of the above, matching only a sequence from Colombia. No insects were found at the base. Like most areas in the world, we likely have more species in this complex waiting to be found.

Cordyceps cf militaris EU - there are other orange species on insects in the C. militaris complex here, but we need collections.

Cordyceps bifusispora © Connor Dooley (2 images),     C. californica n.p. © Bill Weir and Kem Luther


Paraisaria is sister to Ophiocordyceps according to those who described it and was split it into its own genus on slight microscopic grounds (a globose fertile terminal portion of the stroma with immersed perithecia), but that may not have been the best idea as we're not yet sure what the implications are to the rest of Ophiocordyceps. My ITS only tree cannot hold Ophiocordyceps together at all so more study is needed on this genus.

Paraisaria cascadensis WA (Paraisaria gracilis EK misapplied) -an orange-brown round pimpled head on a slender yellow stem, growing on Cyphoderris monstrosa grig insects. The photo is the type collection. So far, all reports of P. gracilis (found on caterpillars) have turned out to be P. cascadensis, but if you find one not on a grig insect, save it.

Ophiocordyceps myrmecophila EU - a similar orange-brown round pimpled head on a very slender yellowish stem, growing on ants. There is no consensus on which sequences with this name are correct. We need a type sequence and local collections.

Ophiocordyceps 'ravenelii PNW01' - a simple dark brown pimpled club, perhaps tapering to a point, growing from beetle larvae. No DNA from anywhere, but we have reason to believe our species is distinct from the SC species O. ravenelii.

Ophiocordyceps variabilis ENA - an orange-yellow club with cauliflower-like pimpled areas near the top, growing from insect larvae. I can't find any reliable DNA for this species, we need a type sequence and local collections.


Paraisaria cascadensis © Connor Dooley (2 images),     unsequenced O. myrmecophila © Daniel Winkler,     unsequenced O. ravenelii © Connor Dooley,     unsequenced Ophiocordyceps variabilis © Connor Dooley

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