Observation 27610: Russula Pers.

Am currently drying several sporocarps found in same square foot of lawn. Nearest tree was Quercus palustris, about 3.5 feet diameter. Douglas fir also about 200 feet distant (on other side of paved road) and perhaps 150 feet tall. I have collected this material at nearly the same location for the past several years, and will be submitting this to the OSU Herbarium at Corvallis for identification. This collection is uniformly less than 2 inches tall and less than 2 inches diameter. Beige-brown cap with a striate edge that is mostly off-white, but slightly darker brown directly over gills. Can apparently bruise or stain dark brown. No odor or slightly fungal when fresh. One hour after trying to get a spore print on yellow paper, still no noticeable print.


Proposed Names

-1% (5)
Used references: Diversity, Ecology, and Conservation of Truffle Fungi in Forests of the Pacific Northwest, by James M. Trappe, Randy Molina, Daniel L. Luoma, Efren Cazares, David Pilz, Jane E. Smith, Michael A. Castellano, Steven L. Miller, and Matthew J. Trappe.
64% (10)
Recognized by sight: I agree with Christian’s comments supporting the idea that this is just a distorted Russula. While I love truffles, the knee jerk reaction of putting them into separate genera just because they have lost the ability to forcibly discharge spores is a questionable practice and if correctly applied phylogenetically would likely result in Russula and Lactarius being broken up into many, many distinct genera.
26% (7)
Recognized by sight: Sequestrate russuloid mushroom lacking latex.

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

= Observer’s choice
= Current consensus


Add Comment
Per Irene’s suggestion
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-07 13:38:44 -05 (-0500)

have removed the first photo. It was the same material, but with a more strongly inrolled which hid the striate edge.

By cultivation
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-07 13:25:48 -05 (-0500)

I mean growing it. Not necessarily mating studies, but transferring the mycelium from one site to another (transference) to see whether the fungus grows true. Fungal mating procedures require a lab which I don’t have. In nature, mating might also take place, even with mycorrhizal species, especially in those areas were Russula is common (such as Oregon).

I grow mushrooms by first observing their fruiting habitat closely. Then I chose an similar area on private property to transfer the mycelium or spores to. While either method works with some mushrooms, spores have produced the best results for me. I usually overcolonize the new area with a spore slurry. While it may take only 10,000 spores to inoculate a new tree with mycorrhizal fungi, I like to give a new tree a million or so. By distributing the spore slurry over a wide area, I suspect the roots are more likely to be colonized.

Why don’t you remove the first picture?
By: Irene Andersson (irenea)
2009-11-07 06:06:37 -05 (-0500)

It’s so disturbing to see that one represent a discussion about Russulas ;-)

I assume by “cultivation” to decide on species you meant mating studies?
By: Paul Derbyshire (Twizzler)
2009-11-07 03:37:48 -05 (-0500)
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-07 00:26:33 -05 (-0500)

I don’t think this is a great evolutionary step forward. I just think it is overlooked so frequently that not many have a handle on it.

However, for your humor, I also think the same thing about Cantharellus. I have found both solid-stemmed and hollow-stemmed Cantharellus “formosus” on Larch Mountain. These same fungi have ridges, no ridges, or nearly blade-like gills. Is there only 1 species, 2 species, or 6 species represented? I don’t know. I think that only cultivation will point the way on this.

In a different vein, it took me nearly 9 years of collecting a spring truffle which Dr. Trappe identified as “Spring gibbosum” before he accessed the last remaining preserved specimen (a slide) from H.W. Harkness’ original collection of Tuber gibbosum in California. Under a scanning electron microscope (not available to Harkness) Trappe discovered that the “true” T. gibbosum has a pinched spore, as did my “Spring gibbosum.” The material Trappe had called T. gibbosum had spindle-shaped spores that were not pinched. Ergo, after 10 years of collecting this material, it was formally recognized as the original T. gibbosum, while the Tuber which had been sold for at least 20 years as T. gibbosum was renamed T. oregonense.

According to Adrian Beyerle, the people at OSU now consider T. gibbosum to be a complex of at least 3 different species.

Why watch Comedy Central when real life is so much more interesting?

A milestone in mycology, or “Comedy Central”?
By: Dimitar Bojantchev (dimitar)
2009-11-06 23:21:51 -05 (-0500)

Daniel, initially I thought that the suggestion of “Gilled Macowanites” is a friendly insider joke and this is why I didn’t bite, but now after reading the discourse I see that it might have been taken seriously by some. I still think that you’re pulling “Comedy Central” on all parties here? Please clarify. Tell me if you seriously think that you found a new species representing a clear evolutionary step towards Macowanites. I fail to get a good spore deposit quite often, but it never occurred to me that I’ve discovered a milestone in mycology.

Have fun,

Johannes asks:
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-06 20:46:53 -05 (-0500)

“But how can it be proved that these Glomites were growing during the Devonian?”

The fungi and club mosses were both fossilized in the same very fine siltstone, which dates to the Devonian. The Glomites were found within the roots of fossilized club mosses.

Since I am more a mushroom grower than taxonomist, the question of species seems to me very specific: does it grow true? Problem with most mycorrhizal fungi is they haven’t been reliably cultivated to date, to my knowledge. Has anyone else been able to cultivate any species of Russula?) I have been only modestly successful in growing Russula emetica, but haven’t been back to that inoculation site for several years, as it passed out of my family’s possession with the death of several uncles in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Russula emetica grew several years at that site in the late 1980’s to before 1992. Multiple fruitings in different years suggest cultivation to me.

RE: this observation, I have observed this fungus growing at or near this location for the past 10 years that I remember, but have had very poor time collecting it. The site is in a commercial doctor’s office/out-patient clinic, and is kept well-groomed. Anything growing above 3 inches in promptly beheaded by lawn mowers. Only when I find material between mowings have I had any inkling this was something other than a common Russula. It seems some people don’t understand sequestrate: to sequester spores inside the fungus so that no spore print is possible, even though gill surfaces may be present to allow spore drop.

Many mycologists in the past have suggested various methods truffles could evolve into mushrooms and vice-versa. With many more species to choose from today than, say, 1880, the possibilities are more complex.

And there are strong differences between ascomycete, basidiomycete, zygomycete and glomeromycetes. There is an interesting historical article regarding these differences and the scientists who contributed to our current knowledge in General Technical Report PNW-GTR-772, aka “Diversity, Ecology, and Conservation of Truffle Fungi in Forests of the Pacific Northwest”, which was first printed earlier this year. This does not, however, explain how either truffles diversified to become basidiomycetes (if indeed glomycetes were the first fungi as currently suggested in the fossil record); or how glomycetes became basidiomycetes became zygomycetes became ascomycetes, or any of the many permutations of that statement. There simply is a strong lack of fossil evidence among fungi of any species because their soft tissues make them less likely to be preserved as fossils.

By: Johannes Harnisch (Johann Harnisch)
2009-11-06 18:43:29 -05 (-0500)

I think this is just a Russula of some kind did you find them more then once in the same area with the same lack of spore print?

and Daniel you said that (“as far as which came first Truffle or Russula….I still question which came first: the truffle or the mushroom. The first preserved fungi I know of (Glomites) dated to the Devonian Age (Age of Fishes), was found in British Columbia, and was fruiting among the roots of club mosses, which are among the first suspected soil-inhabiting plants. That suggests the first fungi were hypogeous. As Trappe and others have suggested, hypogeous fungi do have certain advantages over epigeous fungi: they are less susceptible to dehydration, obtain at least part of their food supply from plants (like lichens) and can survive in arid conditions easier. They also have disadvantages: they cannot disperse easily or quickly to distant areas, are more dependent on animal, insect, or arthropod life for dispersal; insects and arthropods being most likely during the Devonian”)

But how can it be proved that these Glomites were growing during the Devonian?
BTW as far as spore dispersal; can’t they spread by going from tree to tree? eg. by their mycorhizal habits?

Polyphyly vs. Paraphyly
By: Nathan Wilson (nathan)
2009-11-06 16:56:06 -05 (-0500)

Sorry, I should have been more precise especially since I was slinging
around phrases like ‘clearly defined’. There is a precise definition
for polyphyly vs. paraphyly which work great in situations where you
have complete knowledge of the tree. I guess my real point is that
they are hard to distinguish practically speaking and generally both
of them represent poor taxonomy. In my opinion, taxa above the
species level should be restricted to clades which are by definition
monophyletic. I’d be curious to know what the official nomenclature
rules are regarding paraphyly, but I know that the preference is for
monoplyly and polyphyly is very much frowned upon.

As an example of why I see them as hard to distinguish and as being
suggestive of poor categorization, consider the case of 4 species in
two genera (I believe this is the simplest case where you can get
clear polyphyly), say A b, A c, D e and D f. The basic polyphyletic
case is A b and D e are sister species and A c and D f are sister
species. To fix this in a world that permits paraphyly, you could
simply put any of these species into a new genus and declare victory.
To bring this to the case being discussed here, we could say A =
Lactarius, D = Arcangeliella and we move D f to Gastrolactarius f.
However, we could just as easily rename A b to Lactocamphoratus c and
achieve the same effect.

However, both of these are poor solutions since it hides what is
really going on. The correct solutions looking at the tree is to
either put them all in one taxon, or put A b and D e in one taxon and A
c and D f in another taxon.

The big problem cases are situations where you don’t have clear
knowledge about the precise sisterhood relationships between species.
In situations like this you can claim to have a paraphyletic
classification that later turns out to be polyphyletic. With well
defined clades (meaning that the definition of the clade relies on
more than one type species), on the other hand, you can’t get in
this situation (assuming no transgenic DNA monkeying). Furthermore
these clades are by definition monophyletic.

Russula from Pectinata-group
By: Andreas Gminder (mollisia)
2009-11-06 16:40:28 -05 (-0500)


I have not yet understood, why this should be no Russula, but a secotiod species. Just because it refuses to give a spore print?
Apart from that, the first picture seems to be something else to me, a Cortinarius species or somewhat.
best regards,

Dimitar suggested
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-06 14:17:01 -05 (-0500)

“This is Russula in the Pectinatoides group. Contorted, beaten and aged. Probably amoenolens.” Contorted has already been described. It was neither beaten nor aged. The specimens were quite fresh, had no odor of decay, and were simply brittle. You may be perfectly accurate in describing a related Russula. It is small (except for my earlier collection, which was 10cm tall) and well within the range of the R. pectinatoides group (except for my earlier collection, which was 10cm or more across the cap).

They certainly have close parallels, and appear to be more closely related than anything else I have seen to date. Gastrolactarius, as well as Arcangeliella camphorata (now Gastrolactarius c.) should have abundant latex. My collection of A. camphorata from the Valsetz area (Lincoln County, about 1993 as I recall) had abundant latex. This collection had none. If we accept that Gastrolactarius has abundant latex, then this collection can be excluded from that genus.

The question of descendancy is one for herbaria specialists. I collect and observe. Let me suggest, however, that species which are small tend to be overlooked, and seldom get the attention they deserve. Thus the number of truffle collections from the US is even less than the number of small mushrooms.

I still question which came first: the truffle or the mushroom. The first preserved fungi I know of (Glomites) dated to the Devonian Age (Age of Fishes), was found in British Columbia, and was fruiting among the roots of club mosses, which are among the first suspected soil-inhabiting plants. That suggests the first fungi were hypogeous. As Trappe and others have suggested, hypogeous fungi do have certain advantages over epigeous fungi: they are less susceptible to dehydration, obtain at least part of their food supply from plants (like lichens) and can survive in arid conditions easier. They also have disadvantages: they cannot disperse easily or quickly to distant areas, are more dependent on animal, insect, or arthropod life for dispersal; insects and arthropods being most likely during the Devonian.

Russula sp.
By: Dimitar Bojantchev (dimitar)
2009-11-06 11:12:22 -05 (-0500)

This is Russula in the Pectinatoides group. Contorted, beaten and aged. Probably amoenolens.

Paul’s comments are spot-on here.
By: Christian (Christian Schwarz)
2009-11-05 23:34:18 -05 (-0500)

Paraphyly is well defined – here’s an example: two species in a genus (which includes their common ancestor), but a third descendant taxon is (artificially) classified into another genus.

And Paul’s response to the question of hollow stemmed Russula is more elegant, sophisticated, and accurate than mine. I continued to play into the artificial classification, while Paul cut straight to the matter of ancestry. Furthermore, the hollowness of stipes is unlikely to be an evolutionary significant character, at least at first glance (although I can think up a few adaptive “just-so” stories).

By: Paul Derbyshire (Twizzler)
2009-11-05 19:39:56 -05 (-0500)

is well-defined; if a species is in a paraphyletic group, so are all of its ancestors back to and including the most recent common ancestor of the whole paraphyletic group. It just can have branches “pruned” unlike a monophyletic group. Polyphyletic has more holes, and generally lacks the last common ancestor of its members.

Sequestrate ‘genera’
By: Nathan Wilson (nathan)
2009-11-05 17:34:36 -05 (-0500)

Genera are supposed to be monophyletic. Paraphyletic is just polyphyletic-lite and the two are not clearly defined as far as I know. Rather they are a continuum based on how many species are included under a common ancestor. Monophyly, on the other hand, is well defined. I don’t know what the latest nomenclature is on sequestrate Lactarii, but as mentioned in this thread there is one that is related to the L. camphoratus group and from my own experience there is another that is related to the L. deliciosus group and others that are in the spicy white-latex group (or groups). I would certainly be in favor of breaking up Lactarius a bit to reflect these larger groups, but erecting genera for each of these sequestrate species (or worse lumping them together) just further reduces the scientific value of higher level taxa. This is not to say that there isn’t value in having a common way of talking about these similar species (say ‘Sequestrate Lactarii’), I just don’t think the scientific naming system should be distorted around what simply appears to be a common path of convergent evolution.

If Macowanites
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-05 16:03:59 -05 (-0500)

Then atypical, at least, in having a cap separate from the stipe (most Macowanites I’ve found have the cap edges still attached to the stipe), and a hollow stipe. I proposed Gastrolactarius solely because the hollow stipe seems to be more descriptive of Lactarius than Russula. After we get an ID, I’ll post the results.

Respectfully disagree,
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-05 15:09:44 -05 (-0500)

Nathan. It may be time, now that DNA evidence is available, to break the normally staid major fungal classifications into many new sub-classifications, or create new ones that better fit the void. Gastrolactarius appears to be exactly that sort of creation.

Macowanites is often epigeous, has at least a vestigial stipe, and also has either a columella or traces thereof.

This observation, OTOH, is quite a bit taller yet still appears to be sequestrate. I now of no Russula sp. which are sequestrate. Do you know of any sequestarte Russula not already considered Macowanites?

Nor would I consider this to be a truffle. It is epigeous, has a stipe, and identifiable gills albeit convoluted and complex. The only thing similar to truffles I can see is the sequestration of spores. It also does not match Gastrolactarius as described in my citation: “Diversity, Ecology, and Conservation of Truffle Fungi in Forests of the Pacific Northwest.” Nor is this publication without errors. There are a number of new genus proposed, such as Protoglossum sublilacinus for what used to be Hymenogaster sublilacinus, and Protogautieria being broken away from Gautieria.

Dr. Theresa Label did her master’s work on at least some of the sequestrate fungi while at Oregon State University. Unfortunately I was unable to listen to her talk on her work (my work got in the way), but I still wonder about the whole Russula family being clumped into one humongous family with little discernable logic to it.

The hope is that DNA evidence and voucher collections will solve that dilemma. Hopefully this collection will be of sufficient interest to assist in that dilemma.

Lest others deride me as a splitter, let me say that my “knowledge” of what is what has changed dramatically within the past 10 years. I accept it will change further. As more fungi are identified in my area, how can it be otherwise?

By: Paul Derbyshire (Twizzler)
2009-11-05 13:53:56 -05 (-0500)

That’s only an issue if you insist on genera being monophyletic. If you allow paraphyletic (though still dislike polyphyletic) you don’t need to break up Russula except to the point already done by keeping Macowanites separate.

At least under R. albidula and R. rosacea (MD names)
By: Christian (Christian Schwarz)
2009-11-05 09:26:04 -05 (-0500)
Hollow vs. chambered stipe
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-05 02:59:44 -05 (-0500)

I was able to find in Mushrooms Demystified a reference to the chambered stipe (usually 3 chambers) in R. sororia, but was unable to find any reference to a truly hollow stipe. Can you provide reference to species?

Cap flesh was mild tasting or without taste. Odor as dried similar to old R. xerampelina: old fish, unpleasant. No noticeable latex. Found clustered, often with grass growing over it. Whole sporocarp quite brittle: broke several specimens while attempting to dislocate them from their grassy imprisonment. All had well-formed stipes to 2 inches in length. All were found in the same square foot of lawn, very near a Quercus palustris (but well within the mycorrhizal zone of a large 3’ diameter Douglas fir of at least 150 feet in height, and less than 150 feet distant.

I don’t think this is what Arora calls a chambered stipe. It appears rigid but brittle and hollow, and not very hollow. I admit I have not cut any of the specimens in two, prefering whole specimens in their original condition or as close to it as possible. I have remnants of at least 5 sporocarp caps, and at least 3 with attached stipes, which seem to have a hollow interior, but are fused at both the cap and the base of the stipe. They are a total mystery to me. Even Arcangeliella camphorata (now Gastrolactarius camphorata) had a solid very short centralized stipe or stipe/columella. This has a distinct stipe.

My thoughts
By: Christian (Christian Schwarz)
2009-11-04 22:51:11 -05 (-0500)

First of all, I think that this probably represents a Russula that experienced developmental abnormalities. Some well-established species of Russula are often found with thick contorted, anastomosed, and internvenose lamellae (often in section Compactae). We shouldn’t lose sight of environmental influence on phenotype.

Second, Russula can certainly have a hollow stipe. Arora mentions it for at least one species in MD, and Thiers lists it within the generic characters in the introduction to Russula, as well as for quite a number of individual species in the Agaricales of CA.

Thirdly, and this is not necessarily directed at the fungus in this observation the evolutionary trajectory of “going sequestrate” doesn’t mean a net loss of genetic information. It is probable that for at least some (most?) gastroid genera, the ancestors were lamellate, and that the gastroid condition is derived.

this is a interesting find
By: Johannes Harnisch (Johann Harnisch)
2009-11-04 21:40:19 -05 (-0500)

you will have to let us know the results from OSU Herbarium at Corvallis.

Have dried specimens
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-04 20:29:04 -05 (-0500)

and now notice a feature that precludes this from being Macowanites, I think. Let me know what you think as well. Photo 62592 shows a hollow stipe. Macowanites is related to Russula, which has solid stipe. A hollow stipe would logically place this in the Gastrolactarius, I think. Gastrolactarius should have both stipe and gleba latex present. But I saw no latex at all. I have previously found Gastrolactarius camphorata (previously Arcangeliella c.) which has but a rudimentary stipe, and is typically hypogeous. This material has a 2 inch stipe that is hollow (in at least one specimen) and no latex visible. So either I am looking at a potential new genus or this may be an obscure Gastrolactarius which oddly does not have latex.

By: Johannes Harnisch (Johann Harnisch)
2009-11-01 22:11:32 -05 (-0500)

Daniel, good question…which evolved first….well i would say that an above ground fungus such as a Russula,or Amanita for instance, would appear to have more genetic code (Right, or wrong?) ie. a underground sp would have to get more code to properly develop a stalk complete gills etc…and that is not necessarily possible….(eg. a the variety of dogs have supposedly bean selectively bred from Wolves…but you can not selectively breed a toy dog until you get a wolf again which it once came from…so that code is lost…) so it is unlikely that a Agaric would develop into a Truffle….
so could a Agaric or above ground fungus loose code… in micro-evolution and go underground ?
I can’t completely see the reason that would happen…What do you think?…….. Perhaps a better question would be did either they evolve ? LOL

Now 26 hours after harvest
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-01 19:07:37 -05 (-0500)

and no spore print. Fungi are drying well, and in another 2-3 days should be ready for mailing. Faint odor of old fish.

Everything you’ve said is true, Paul.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-01 19:06:17 -05 (-0500)

The same problem remains: is this a truffle becoming a mushroom? Or a mushroom becoming a truffle? Hopefully DNA evidence will have something to say about that shortly.

Evolution of a secotioid fungus
By: Paul Derbyshire (Twizzler)
2009-11-01 11:24:06 -05 (-0500)

If this is one, it’s not very far along that road, and already no spore drop. I think maybe that’s the first to go: the basidia no longer forcibly discharge the spores. After that change, the selective pressure on the gills, pores, or whatever changes abruptly: instead of requiring a regular shape with vertical material and air gaps in which the spores can drop, the sole consideration is then surface area. Mutations that make the gills or pores irregular like in this specimen can accumulate, and when they raise the surface area they will now be favored, whereas before if they obstructed spore droppage they were disfavored. The gills get irregular and partly fused/crossveined like in this specimen; further down the road they get so twisted, fused, and irregular as to become a three-dimensional chambered mass, and you get something like one of the truffles or Weraroas or similarly with lacunae. The logical endpoint is a uniform gleba by way of a marbled gleba. At the same time the cap and stipe change. Veils may fail to open (recent blue NZ obs) and eventually the cap margin and stipe may be permanently fused (Weraroa novae-zelandiae). The portion of the stipe above this point becomes the columella and gradually disappears to make way for more spore-bearing gleba, being no longer needed for support. The lower part may become short or vanish. So there should also be a correlation between well-developed columella and lacunae/marbling of the gleba, and between uniformity of the gleba and a reduced or absent columella.

There’s also the question of what causes it. The usual suspect was dry conditions, but the abundant and varied New Zealand secotioid fungi suggest otherwise. My guess would be that the key is animal dispersal: you start with a normal mushroom with dropped, wind-dispersed spores (or even a morel or similar that shoots spores up into the wind), then some animal starts eating the mushrooms that does a good job of dispersing the spores without also digesting them. At some point a tipping point may be reached where dropped spores are actually less likely to succeed than retained spores, and evolution selects for basidia that don’t discharge their spores. Puffballs might be one route back to wind dispersal: become epigeous if need be and have the gleba become a powdery spore mass; have the peridium perforate, disintegrate, or otherwise break apart. From the secotioid or truffle-like fungus are several paths, with puffballs and earthstars having taken one, birds-nest fungi another, and Pisolithus still another. Some of these may be adaptations to arid environments with non-abundant animal life. Of course there’s also the road back to normal mushroom-dom, as long as the genetic machinery for such has not been too badly mangled by random mutations in the interim. Reversibility is probably less the further along the road to truffledom the species has traveled.

No spore print
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2009-11-01 10:13:21 -05 (-0500)

after 20 hours. Strongly drawn to Macowanites.

Created: 2009-10-31 16:54:40 -05 (-0500)
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