Observation 76607: Scutellinia (Cooke) Lambotte

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= Observer’s choice
= Current consensus


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By: Drew Parker (mycotrope)
2013-08-03 01:46:22 CDT (-0400)

unfortunately for our future attempts at identifying Scutellinias, the information presented in Beñat’s comments, particularly that pertaining to the rarity of the S. scutellata complex, is persuasive. I’ve adjusted my votes accordingly, at least until the next time the conventional wisdom is overturned. Science creeps forward. Thanks Beñat.

Thank you, Beñat
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-08-02 17:39:38 CDT (-0400)

Taxonomy is an integral part of this website. Whether those who participate are either interested or well versed in that subject doesn’t change the importance that taxonomy has always had here. I’m very grateful for input like yours. It helps make Mushroom Observer a more interesting and reliable resource for all levels of expertise, not just the layperson. We need more discussions like this.

I will keep you posted about loaning material from the Thiers herbarium, especially if it means gaining a clearer understanding of this genus as it occurs in California and Southeast Asia. In the meantime, I encourage you to explore other Scutellinia observations, particularly those which do have (or claim to have) microscopic data. Here is a list:


Scutellinia’s explanation
By: Beñat
2013-08-02 01:55:49 CDT (-0400)

Hi everybody,

In first, sorry for my poor english, I hope you will understand.
In second, I don’t want to impose my opinion. All of it differs between persons and view on necessity to propose correct name or not.

My opinion is following :

Scutellinia is a genus of Pyronemataceae, therefore ascomycete. Except a very little number of ascomycetes which could be recognized at the naked eye, all of them require microscopic studies. And, even with this study, it happens that we can’t give species names.

In Scutellinia species, it’s obligatory to make some different preparations :
- In water, to verify guttulated spores, tissues, form of hairs, difference (or not) between marginal and receptacular hairs
- in blue cotton, heated at boiling point (verify if perispore is separating), to verify sporal ornementation.
- Measurements of spores and marginal hairs.

In a lot of cases, even with those preparations, it’s not possible to propose a “good” name.

Why ?
Because a lot of misinterpretations, a lot of determinations with naked eye, a lot of certitudes not demonstrated…
For example : S. scutellata is a name commonly adopted since several years all around the world and given on a lot of photos on forum, on a lot of herbarium exsiccata without scopic studies.
In fact, I have seen typus and a lot of collections, I have seen DNA results and I continue to send specimens for DNA study. And globally, the results are : the most common species on wood in the world is S. crinita (even in North America, I have study a lot of collections from US) and S. scutellata is a great complex but, often, rare species.
So, give the name scutellata is an error at 99%. In fact, today, I don’t know the borders of this species and I’m unable to put this name on a collection. I call it simply “S. scutellata complex”.

But, I can understand that’s taxonomic discussions and it doesn’t interest everyone.
Except give any name is not trivial, it bothers the study.
So, if you search a little serious contributions, please prefer only the genus.
And even this it made, it’s possible to make another error. For example, without scopic study, certains species of Cheilymenia could be confounded with Scutellinias (like C. fraudans or C. rubra) at naked eye.

About contributions on ascomycetes and particularly on Scutellinia, we don’t use photobooks like Thompson or Medardi. It’s necessary to use monography and keys, scientific articles…
For example, today, the only work around the world is Schumacher monography, in Opera botanica. And, since this, it’s necessary to read all of the following contributions because taxonomy has evolved.

Personnally, I have made a working world key on this genus… but always under construction and in french… Perhaps later, I will translate and propose it, but always keeping mind that’s it in evolution…

A last thing : if you want, I’ll be very glad if someone want to send me Scutellinia’s exsiccatas. I’m always on research of new correspondents around the world and I’m passionated.

Best regards,
Beñat Jeannerot

Just released
By: Darvin DeShazer (darv)
2013-08-01 19:29:48 CDT (-0400)

The most current reference is:
Thompson, Peter I. 2013. Ascomycetes in Colour. Xlibris Corporation, (Print on Demand). 367p.
700 species, 12 species of Scutellinia
(Both of Seaver’s books are available online as pdf’s)

one is only as good
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-08-01 18:06:49 CDT (-0400)

as one’s education.


That’s a list of proposed corrections for Swiss 1, and it’s from 2001, as in it does not include any revelations from the last 12 years. Seaver’s North American Cup Fungi is perhaps the second most referenced text for the determining of discomycetes, at least in the US & Canada. These are Don Pfister’s proposed corrections circa 1982:


to which I can find no newer addendum or update.

Mike Wood, Darv, maybe Douglas, and some of our friends across the pond might be lucky enough to own Medardi Ascomiceti d’Italia, which I can’t comment on having never owned and only once handled a copy in person (and that was years ago).

These are just the Scutellinia papers I can find published since 1982:

Unlike Seaver and Swiss 1, which at least were at one time seminal texts on their subject matter, the overwhelming majority of references leading people to propose S. scutellata are ones which, admittedly or otherwise, give a highly superficial treatment of the genus and the ascomycota in general, either in the number of species listed, comprehensiveness of their treatment, or both. Mushrooms Demystified is not a work of ascomycetology, nor was it intended to be. The same could be said for most “mushroom books” bought and sold in this half of the world. The study of ascomycetes is, for whatever reason, largely a European (or at least non-American) interest. There are exceptions: Don Pfister, Andy Miller, Brian Perry, Jack Rogers, Priscilla Chaverri (who is Costa Rican but works at UoMaryland), Roz Lowen, Joey Spatafora, etc., but at the lay level, like on your average American foray, every Xylaria is hypoxylon or polymorpha, every Scutellinia is scutellata, every Dasyscyphus bicolor or virgineus, every flat yellow discomycete Bisporella citrina, on and on and on. And they might be right, but they may also be wrong, but ultimately few care, because they’re tiny, and you can’t eat, sell or get fucked up off them.

So what does a real, living, breathing specialist on the genus in question have to say about all this?

…“This problem is recurrent and not particularly of your website [MO] I have seen an herbarium with 200 collections annoted S. scutellata and none was !

…“Microscopy obligatory, with photos in water (verifying guttulated spores, verifying hairs), with sporogram or mature spores in asci in blue coton heated to boiling point, with photos of hairs bases and measurements of spores and hairs are the minimum.

…“A lot of species are misidentified since several years because a lot of interpretations and publications, because too synonymized, because it seems easy and it’s not ! For example, I have seen a lot of typus and I can say that’s very difficult to give certain names like “scutellata” or others.


This boils down to a difference in visions for Mushroom Observer. I see this site as a bridge between the herbarium and the mushroom show, the foray and the pot hunt, the academic journal and the mycological society newsletter, the “professional” and the “amateur” (to borrow a favorite false dichotomy). Good taxonomy doesn’t have to be restricted anymore to people who work for universities or publish academic papers, not in the 21st century, not with the ability to store and instantly share an amount of information equivalent to every volume housed in the library of congress on an electrical box the size of a paperback. This site is being cited in new publications. Google Images continues to scrape every. last. image. uploaded here, recallable by any search query which matches the consensed-upon name, right or wrong. Mushroom Observer is becoming one of the largest mycological references in the world. That comes with responsibility, and that responsibility starts with shedding willful ignorance.

Stay tuned, Beñat Jeannerot is up next.

My two cents..
By: Irene Andersson (irenea)
2013-08-01 16:14:59 CDT (-0400)

Several “scutellata” on MO could well be something else, but if it’s red, growing on decaying wood, and has pretty long lashes, it’s very likely to be scutellata.
But I agree with Danny, you can’t be completely confident without microscopy.

Well, since Danny and I have had our own little debate
By: Ron Pastorino (Ronpast)
2013-08-01 12:26:19 CDT (-0400)

on one of my observations for this species, my sentiments certainly are with Drew on this one .
It is interesting to note that in one of Doug Smith’s recent observations for this species, MO#137189 , in which he did have microscopic backup, he states..
“And getting down all the details on these little guys and going to the source, when you key it out it ends up with Scutellinia scutellata. Which seems to be true every time I put one of these under the scope. It seems that you need some really clear difference for it to not be S. scutellata.”

What’s the alternative?
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-08-01 03:53:25 CDT (-0400)

Call something by a name which it may or may not be, as opposed to the slightly less specific name for which it is an unequivocal fit? The macro characters for Scutellinia are not enough by themselves to make species determinations. Those observations with microscopic notes and/or photos I’ve deliberately left alone until I have the resources to confirm the IDs suggested and vote/propose accordingly. In the meantime, those without microscopy are no more one species than they are another. At best, the combination of substrate, geography, and macro features might give cause to lean toward one group or another, but this is like pouring a half glass of water back and forth between alternately empty cups and expecting one to become full. If micro is missing, there is no species ID.

Perhaps I can get Beñat Jeannerot to make a cameo here and deliver his own Scutellinia sermon. From what I can tell, he is among the preeminent authorities on this genus.

It’s not that I don’t believe you,
By: Drew Parker (mycotrope)
2013-08-01 01:52:36 CDT (-0400)

but I don’t think it’s accurate to consider all Scutellinia species to be equal options for a given observation. There are recognized macroscopic characters that indicate one species over another albeit without complete certainty. Giving your strongest vote to the genus doesn’t seem to be taking this into account, and appears to be the convenient way to elevate your proposal to the top. Your harsh edict tends too much toward the black/white for my taste.

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-07-30 22:11:48 CDT (-0400)

Scutellinia species cannot be determined macroscopically. no micro, no ID. period. if you don’t believe me, go on AscoFrance or browse Mike W’s, Nico’s, Irene’s or Gerhardt’s comments elsewhere on MO.

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