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

Click here for my Pictorial Key to Thelephora


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.


Dark (brown to black) coral mushrooms. Some are fan corals, with flat lobes, but some have tubular branches like Ramaria. Occasionally resupinate on some kind of substrate and easily mistakable for Tomentella etc. All are thought to be mycorrhizal.


Fan corals with flat lobes

Thelephora americana NA - this one will be tricky to figure out. Corner's Monograph of Thelephora from 1968 said this species occurred in WA and BC, but he wasn't talking about T. americana, he was talking about a poorly understood 1915 Lloyd fungus that was accidentally named the same as the Peck 1902 fungus T. americana. We could try to find Corner's original collections, or study the monograph to figure out what he found, but then we would have to come up with a new name for it anyway. So why not ignore this altogether, find and describe all the local Thelephora, and feel comforted that whatever this is was included in our list of local Thelephora. I think reports of this should be ignored.

Thelephora regularis - same story. Schweinitz described this in 1822 but Fries was allowed to use the name for something different, so nobody really knows what this is supposed to be. We don't even know if this was described from Europe or Pennsylvania. The species that did get this name is not even a Thelephora, but some distantly related resupinate. It may be best to ignore the reports of this species.

Thelephora terrestris EU - our common dark brown fanned Thelephora, with bumpy warts on the underside as wells as wrinkles somewhat like a chanterelle. A number of WA, OR and BC sequences agree with a large number of EU sequences. Alaska may have a sister species - DNA there is about 1% different in ITS.

Thelephora intybacea EU - said to be a more reddish orange brown capped version of T. terrestris, with a somewhat different look about it. No DNA from anywhere yet to confirm reports that it is here, nor any confirmed photos.

Thelephora PNW02 - brown inside the centre of the cap. The underside is greyish-brown and wrinkled like a chanterelle. Sometimes it has a large white rim and the bottom of the stem is orange-brown, but that isn't always the case. Both one young and one mature specimen did show those traits, but another mature specimen didn't (see photos). Spores 7-8 x 6u. This description does not match anything reported from the PNW before, even though it appears to be common. Known from BC, WA and OR.

Thelephora caryophyllea EU - thinner fleshed and smaller, a little more funnel shaped, under conifers. The underside is wrinkled, but not warty. OR and BC sequences match almost all the EU sequences I can find within 3-4 bp.

Thelephora cf multipartita - similarly thin fleshed but usually under oak. The cap shapes should be different. Formerly known as Thelephora regularis var. multipartita, but due to the confusion about that species, it now has its own name. It's unclear to me if this species was described from Europe or Pennsylvania, as it was published by Fries in Europe, after a Schwienitz fungus, and he collected often in PN. It has been reported from the PNW but I have no DNA from anywhere to confirm those reports.

Thelephora terrestris © Sadie Hickey,     Thelephora PNW02' © Sadie Hickey and Connor Dooley,     T. caryophyllea © Tod Ramsfield


Clavarioid corals with tubular branches

Thelephora 'palmata PNW01' - stinks to high heaven. Our local sequences are quite distinct from EU sequences of this EU species, so ours is very likely in need of a new name.

Thelephora 'palmata PNW07' - one BC sequence is 1.5% different. We need to look for it again and see if it is a distinct species.

Thelephora 'palmata PNW01' © Jonathan Frank

Thelephora anthocephala EU - the name given to most collections with tubular branches that do not stink and are not very small. this highly variable fungus has several described varieties, and several genetic species going by this name in Europe. We appear to have 3 species in this group, with none of them matching species found in the EU, so ours probably all need new names.

Thelephora 'anthocephala PNW03' - our BC photo shows this species has branch tips that are especially thin and spiky.

Thelephora 'anthocephala PNW05' - no photo or description yet. There is one sequence of a mushroom in this group that appears to be a distinct 6th species, however 5.8s is different than in its closest relatives, so I suspect the sequence is dirty. Until I see that sequence again, I will not yet claim that there is a 6th species.

Thelephora 'athocephala PNW08' - one WA sequence matches one EU sequence of one of the 4 or so possible concepts of T. anthocephala.

Thelephora scissilis WA - a smaller mushroom, described from WA and MO with the type chosen from WA. A WV sequence of a collection matching the description of T. scissilis is 2% different in ITS than an OR sequence of T. 'scissilis PNW04'. This leads me to suspect that PNW04 could be T. scissilis, and the east coast species may actually be distinct.

Thelephora 'scissilis PNW04' - this was was either small or very young. It's possible this one is T. scissilis, above.

Thelephora caespitulans PN - also smaller. Corner wondered if it was actually just a small T. anthocephala, but since that is a species group, reports of this need to be investigated to see what it actually is. It is very poorly understood. No DNA yet.

Thelephora 'anthocephalus PNW03' © Anna Bazzicalupo,     T. 'anthocephalus PNW08' © Noah Siegel,     T. 'siscillis PNW04' © Stephen Russell


Resupinates - mycorrhizal resupinates are fascinating. They grow from the ground but attach themselves to whatever substrate they can find to grow on, so if on wood, you'll often find them on the bottom of the piece of wood. There is not usually an association with the substrate, but with the nearby trees.

Thelephora cf mollissima EU - said to be often but not always resupinate on a substrate instead of growing from the ground with a stem. Some think this is the same species as T. penicillata. Both have been reported from the PNW, but we have no DNA from anywhere yet to know if this is a duplicate name or if not, if it's in the PNW.

Thelephora cf penicillata EU - many EU sequences agree on what this probably is, but not all of them. We don't have any local DNA yet to compare.


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