Observation 27280: Zelleromyces cinnabarinus Singer & A.H. Sm.

When: 2009-10-23

Collection location: Ryerson Station State Park, Pennsylvania, USA [Click for map]

Who: Dan Molter (shroomydan)

No specimen available

This is my first truffle find. Heavy rain exposed this little blob of hypogeous fungus. Note the white latex.

Species Lists



Proposed Names

3% (2)
Recognized by sight
1% (2)
Recognized by sight
-12% (2)
Recognized by sight: white latex
56% (1)
Recognized by sight: Lack of vestigial stipe plus latex make this more likely than Arcangeliella.
61% (2)
Eye3 Eyes3
Used references: Field Guide to North American Truffles, by Matt Trappe, Frank Evans, and James Trappe. Related to Russulas. Said to be associated with pine or perhaps spruce.

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Eye3 = Observer’s choice
Eyes3 = Current consensus


Add Comment
By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2009-10-26 12:06:30 CST (-0500)

“Pliny obviously didn’t have a microscope to see the mycelium with. The “roots” were simply too small for him to see. :)”

Pliny was writing in the first century, fifteen hundred or so years before the invention of the microscope. At the time, most people thought truffles and other mushrooms were spontaneously generated from mechanical processes in decaying matter. Some even speculated that fungi were not alive at all.

The lack of rhizomorphs does make the truffle mysterious. I think they are truly absent Twizzler, not even microscopic ones. They clearly had to be there at some point, but it looks like they completely dissolve, leaving a smooth skin when the truffle is mature.

Likely Zelleromyces cinnabarinus
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-10-25 23:44:05 CST (-0500)

according to Field Guide to North American Truffles by Matt Trappe, Frank Evans, and James Trappe. Related to Russulas. Should be associated with either spruce or pine.

By: Paul Derbyshire (Twizzler)
2009-10-25 22:08:30 CST (-0500)

Pliny obviously didn’t have a microscope to see the mycelium with. The “roots” were simply too small for him to see. :)

It seems that truffles, like puffballs, have evolved multiple times. I suppose the famed European ones of the Tuber genus, being ascos, are probably gasteroid morels.

The locules are presumably a stage between messed-up gills or tubes and becoming a nearly undifferentiated mass.

Is Zelleromyces genetically close to Lactarius?

By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-10-25 21:37:26 CST (-0500)

seems the best fit. It can have latex, lacks rhizomorphs and vestigial stipe, and at least one species has a cinnamon-brown (orange-red?) peridium and gleba. Specimen is loculate, meaning the gleba (interior) is minute chambered, something often found in Rhizopogonaceae, which typically lacks latex of any sort. If you come across another one, even if very soggy, try slicing into 1/8-inch slabs, patting dry with a paper towel, then drying the remaining material. Spores are located inside the locules, and even immature material is likely to have a few mature spores. Truffles are more common on the west coast than the east, but there are a few species found on the eastern seaboard. Usually the season for truffles lasts a few weeks for each species, so you might find another yet this year.

no stems no roots
By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2009-10-25 19:06:18 CST (-0500)

Unfortunately I did not save this specimen, nor do I remember any distinct smell. The truffle was soggy from rain and not in the best shape. If I find one in better condition I’ll be sure to save it.

It was neat seeing this thing peeking out of the ground. The skin was smooth all the way around. I remember reading Pliny’s description of truffles in Ainsworth’s Introduction to the History of Mycology.

“Among the most wonderful of all things is the fact that anything can spring up and live without a root. These are called truffles (tubera); they are surrounded on all sides by earth, and are supported by no fibers or hair-like root-threads (capellamentis); nor does the place in which the they are produced swell out into any protuberance or present any fissure; they do not adhere to the earth; they are surrounded by a bark, so that one cannot say they are altogether composed of earth, but they are a kind of earthy concretion…

(Naturalis historia, book XIX, sect II)."

—G. C. Ainsworth’s Introduction to the History of Mycology page 12.

This one was just like Pliny described, no vestigial stipe, and no strand of mycellium.

Could this be a Lactarius that first evolved into a gastroid form and then retreated underground?

Hope you dried this.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-10-25 09:31:08 CST (-0500)

It really needs to be looked at closely. It is one of the hypogeous Lactarius relatives, but doesn’t really match Arcangeliella that I have found because it lacks a visible vestigial stipe. In Arcangeliella the remains of an appressed pileus are also noticeable, and this seems to have lost it. The bright color suggests something more closely resembling a hypogeous Hygrocybe, but I know of no such genus currently known. Was there any odor? Did the latex stain or cause the flesh to change color? This really needs to be sent to the Oregon State University, c/o Forestry Sciences Lab, 3200 Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR for better identification than I can provide. There are several genera of hypogeous fungi with white latex, most of which have distinctive aromas. And there’s always the distinct possibility you have found something completely new.

Created: 2009-10-24 19:00:21 CDT (-0400)
Last modified: 2014-12-19 17:56:15 CST (-0500)
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