When: 2014-07-06

Collection location: Lila Ave., Yakima, Yakima Co., Washington, USA [Click for map]

Who: Drew Henderson (Hendre17)

No specimen available

Found beneath Picea Sitchensis(Sitka spruce) in our backyard. We’ve been seeing these scattered among roots and grass(specimen in these images shows growth around an actual blade of grass).

Temp: upper 90’s.

Odor: Spicy, slightly fruity( red wine slightly).


After thorough investigation- found that this host tree is not P. sitchensis but in fact P. pungens or Blue Spruce.

Species Lists


Host tree-Blue Spruce(Picea pungens
Host tree-Blue Spruce(Picea pungens
Host tree-Blue Spruce(Picea pungens
Image of spores@40X. 124X768. “Attachment of spores straight, inconspicuous or a basal, cupped truncation of spores. Pale yellow, pale brown. Irregularly shaped spores.” From Trappe Pg. 91.
Image of spores@40X. 124X768. “Attachment of spores straight, inconspicuous or a basal, cupped truncation of spores. Pale yellow, pale brown. Irregularly shaped spores.” From Trappe Pg. 91.
Image of spores@40X. 124X768. “Attachment of spores straight, inconspicuous or a basal, cupped truncation of spores. Pale yellow, pale brown. Irregularly shaped spores.” From Trappe Pg. 91.
Images of spores@10X. 1280X960.
Images of spores@10X. 1280X960.
Images of spores@10X. 1280X960.
Images of spores@10X. 1280X960.

Proposed Names

78% (2)
Used references: “Diversity, Ecology, and Conservation of Truffle Fungi in Forests of the Pacific Northwest.” (J. Trappe, Molina, Luoma, Cazares, Pilz, Smith, Castellano, Miller, M. Trappe. Pg.91.
-13% (3)
Recognized by sight: Grows near the surface and has a soil incrusted hat. Loves traffic, like lawn mowers, cows, farm equipment and more.
57% (1)
Recognized by sight

Please login to propose your own names and vote on existing names.

= Observer’s choice
= Current consensus


Add Comment
Not fair to say this isn’t a Rhizopogon, based just on the powdery spore mass.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2014-07-12 00:22:33 CDT (-0500)

Rhizopogons go through many stages. From immature, through maturity, and into over-maturity. One has to have collected, studied, and scoped a slew of Rhizopogons from different habitats, eco-niches, tree hosts, soil types, etc. to come up with some sort of gestalt of what a Rhizopogon is.

In general, Rhizopogons have rhizomorphs on the peridium, usually at least one, and often many sometimes forming mats over the surface of the peridium.

The interior of Rhizopogons is loculate: meaning chambered. Spores are formed on the interior of the locules, meaning they rarely, if ever, leave a spore print. What is visible as small clusters of glebal tissue here and masses of spores and degraded locules, making the whole look more like powder than chambered. This is the stage best seen before the fungus goes either rotten or becomes consumed by a parasite. As James Trappe says, the purpose of a Rhizopogon fruiting is to get eaten. But sometimes they don’t have access to mycophageous animals, and therefore fruit and degrade on site.

It is my opinion that this is such a fungus. The peridium has visible rhizomorphs, visible in photos 2 and 4. I would not say these rhizomorphs are matt-like or even abundant. But they are present.

Would a puffball look similar? Yes, but it would have a much thicker peridium (outer shell) than this shows. Until microscopy shows otherwise, I’d call this Rhizopogon.

The real question is which Rhizopogon. Many are associated with Picea, and several are even associated with Picea pungens (which is unusual in my area, even as an ornamental plant). Normally Picea pungens would be found native in the Rocky Mountains, especially in Colorado (where P. pungens is known as Colorado blue spruce). It seems unlikely that the native vector for spreading mycorrhizal hypogeous fungi in the higher elevations of Colorado are going to be found in Yakima, Washington. I hope Drew examines the area more in the future, and provides MO with a greater range of maturity of Rhizopogon sporocarps in the future.

P.S. My suggestion of Rhizopogon atroviolaceus was based on a host being Picea engelmanii. As that cannot be the case, I am destroying that possiblity for consideration. I do not know that R. atroviolaceus cannot form mycorrhizal with P. pungens, but neither am I aware that it can.

Thanks christian-
By: Drew Henderson (Hendre17)
2014-07-11 20:34:15 CDT (-0500)

Placing this as fungi.spp for the time being. I will scope the spores and update posts this weekend.
Due to such a powdery gleba it may even be in the puffball side of things.

With that powdery interior
By: Christian (Christian Schwarz)
2014-07-11 19:14:00 CDT (-0500)

seems unlikely that this could be a Rhizopogon.

Thanks Daniel-
By: Drew Henderson (Hendre17)
2014-07-11 18:55:14 CDT (-0500)

Finally found out that the host tree is a blue spruce or P. pungens, which is pretty common as a decorative around our area here in Yakima.

I am uploading more images of the Spruce tree and surrounding rooting area where I found the small fruiting. I still have herbarium specimens available if you would like them sent down south for further investigation and scoping.

Appreciate all your help as usual Daniel :)

Rhizopogon atroviolaceus
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2014-07-08 01:58:17 CDT (-0500)

is a possibility. But it has not been found in Washington according to NATS Field Guide To Selected North American Truffles and Truffle-like Fungi, by Matt Trappe, Frank Evans and James Trappe, c. 2005. Of course, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be it, either.

NATS Field Guide says under comments: “This rare species is known only from Idaho and Oregon. It is one of a small group of Rhizopogon species with spores that turn strikingly purple in iodine solutions.” Under Habitat, the field guide says “With Douglas-fir, pine, hemlock, true fir, spruce at moderate to high elevations.” I think Yakima would be considered a moderate elevation, at least compared to where most truffle collections have been made in the Willamette Valley. There is still the problem of what spruce this is with, so Rhizopogon atroviolaceus can only be one possibility. It needs a voucher collection, though, including a twig from the host spruce.

Please provide photo of the host tree.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2014-07-06 20:59:41 CDT (-0500)

I have looked on-line for Picea sitchensis in Washington, and found it typically is in Western Washington, and in at least one bog located near Mount St. Helens. I don’t believe Yakima is in its range. It would be very interesting if it were, and whether it can survive there long-term.

Yakima is well within the range of Engelmann spruce. If your tree is native and found in Yakima, it may be Engelmann spruce. Sitka spruce has sharp-pointed needles and a pitchy smell. Engelmann spruce has softer needles, and an unpleasant, rank odor.

A study of seed collected in 1970’s (http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/l1807e/L1807E06.htm) documents seed collection points along the known P.s. range. One on-line site states it is rarely far away from tidewater. Yakima is far away from tidewater.

By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2014-07-06 17:06:31 CDT (-0500)

for including your impression of the odor, Drew. So few people find that important, even among trufflers. Pretty sure of this ID, because of your elevation and location.

Appears to be quite dark gleba. This might be accounted for by the temperature, epigeous appearance of the fungi, and overall maturity of the specimen. Most Rhizopogons found by NATS on forages are immature, and hypogeous. Difference of 50 degrees for hypogeous fungi, and upper 90’s for and epigeous specimen seems obvious to me. BTW. the more above ground these are, the faster they mature.

Try to look for others that are still below ground, by examining the area carefully for bumps and cracking of the soil near sporocarps.