Public Description of Pycnoporus sanguineus (L.) Murrill

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Name: Pycnoporus sanguineus (L.) Murrill
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 Draft For 2009/2010 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Mark Gryczka (Private)

Description status: Unreviewed

Taxonomic Classification:

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Polyporales
Family: Polyporaceae

General Description:

Pycnoporus sanguineus is most notably characterized by its red color. Termed “red fungus,” P. sanguineus is a plant pathogen most typically found at elevations ranging from 0 – 8,704ft in tropical or subtropical regions of the world. Mainly growing on dead or decaying wood, fruiting bodies may grow individually or clustered, sometimes overlapping. The fruiting bodies of P. sanguineus contain both a cap and a stem. The caps are characterized by a bright red/orange color and can vary in both diameter and thickness. Normally, caps range from 3 – 14cm in diameter and can grow up to 5mm in thickness. Some of the most distinguishing characteristics of the caps other than the color are their texture. In general, caps appear to be smooth, leathery, or corky in appearance. They also display fairly rigid edges transitioning in non – fading colors. On average, stems range from 2 – 7cm but are sometimes absent depending on their location upon its nutrient source. Located directly underneath the caps are the gills. Contained within the gills are hyaline hyphae equipped with thin walled clamps and microscopic spores called basidiospores. The basidiospores appear short, ovate, and smooth. The basidiospores are responsible for the production of fruiting bodies and are distributed within the environment by falling branches or other organic debris. (1)

Diagnostic Description:

There are only a few distinct ways in which P. sanguineus can be distinguished from its closest relatives. Most of the distinguishing features are located in the caps. Typically, the thickness of the cap will only grow up to 5mm. If the thickness of a cap exceeds 5mm, other species should be considered. Also, the caps display fairly rigid edges even when fresh. Other closely related species in the genus Pycnoporus may display rigid edges, but only when aged. Another distinguishable characteristic displayed by P. sanguineus from others in its genus is its ability to display multiple pigents (red/orange)which contain pores that are non-fading. Similar look “look alikes” include P. coccineus and P. cinnabarinus.

(Pycnoporus sanguineus) at Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Tuichi River, Bolivia. Photographed on 27 November 2008.


P. sanguineus was first discovered in 1904 on Guana Island, part of the Virgin Islands. Displaying thermo-tolerant properties, P. sanguineus is found mostly in tropic and sub-tropical environments. Having an optimal growth temperature of 28⁰ C, there are many geographical regions throughout the world where P. sanguineus can be found. These geographical regions include: South and Central America, Southern parts of North America, Africa, India, and most regions of Australia. Typically, P. sanguineus is found in both rain forests and deciduous forests upon dead or decaying wood. Environmental conditions that favor the growth of P. sanguineus would include a warm, moist, or dry climate. Often, P. sanguineus is present in both fall and winter seasons in North America because it does not decay easily in the environment.


P. sanguineus is mostly found in habitats that are warm and moist. Tropical rain forests that exhibit temperatures that range from 20°C – 31°C , and produce an average of 50 – 260 inches of rainfall per year are perfectly suitable for optimal growth. Although moisture plays a crucial role in growth of P. sanguineus , it is not limited to environments that produce significantly less rainfall, such as the southern regions of North America. One important biological factor that plays a significant role in the growth of P. sanguineus is the amount of dead or decaying wood in the environment. Other factors, such as the amount of dead organic material located within the soil surrounding the dead or decaying wood would also assist fungal growth.

Hongo (Pycnoporus sanguineus)

Look Alikes:

Most other species within the genus Pycnoporus portray very similar characteristics of one another. Two of the most commonly mistaken species misinterpreted for P. sanguineus are P. coccineus and P. cinnabarinus. The main differences between P. sanguineus and P. cinnabarinus lands in the cap. P. cinnabarinus cap size differs from P. sanguineus in that its cap can reach a thickness of up to 1.5cm, and it displays a fading whitish color when aged. P. sanguineus also differs from P. coccineus by its appearance underneath its cap. P. coccineus displays a cork like underside of its cap whereas P. sanguineus does not.

P. cinnabarinus

P. coccineus


P. sanguineus is used for both industrial and medicinal purposes throughout the world. A pigment extracted from the caps called cinnabarin is used in textile industries for the partial and complete de-colorization of certain dyes. Other industrial uses of this species include testing methods for wood treatment products and enzymes used in bio-remediation for the breakdown of crude oils. Traditional medicinal uses were first utilized by natives in surrounding areas of this species. Medicinal uses of P. sanguineus help relieve symptoms of the following diseases: arthritis, gout, styptic, sore throats, ulcers, tooth aches, fevers, and hemorrhages. P. sanguineus also displays numerous anti-bacterial properties against E. coli, K. pneumoniae, P. aeroginosa, S. typhi, and S. aureus by inhibiting specific metabolic pathways. Currently, P. sanguineus if being used in medicine for the absorption of certain heavy metals contained within the blood stream.


Ability of Pycnoporus Sanguineus to Remove Copper Ions from Aqueous Solution
M. D. Mashitah, Z. Zulfadhfy, S. Bhatla
Artificial Cells, Blood Substitutes and Biotechnology, Jan 1999, Vol. 27, No. 5-6, Pages 429-433.

Binding Mechanism of Heavy Metals Biosorption by Pycnoporus Sanguineus
M. D. Mashitah, Z. Zulfadhly, S. Bhatta
Artificial Cells, Blood Substitutes and Biotechnology, Jan 1999, Vol. 27, No. 5-6, Pages 441-445.

Blanchette, R.A. 1988. Resistance of hardwood vessels to degradation by white rot Basidiomycetes.
Can. J. Bot. 66: 1841–1847

Centre for Research in Fungal Diversity, Department of Ecology and Biodiversity, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong SAR, China

Mashitah, M. D.; Zulfadhly, Z.; Bhatta, S.. “Binding Mechanism of Heavy Metals Biosorption by Pycnoporus Sanguineus” 27.5 (1999). 04 Dec. 2009
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Pointing, SB, Jones, EBG, Vrijmoed, LLP (2000) “Optimization of laccase production by Pycnoporus sanguineus in submerged liquid culture” Mycologia 92: 139-144

Description author: Mark Gryczka (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editor: Nathan Wilson

Created: 2009-12-03 19:20:12 CST (-0500) by Mark Gryczka (msg103)
Last modified: 2010-12-20 23:05:46 CST (-0500) by Mark Gryczka (msg103)
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