Observation 89874: Melanogaster Corda

When: 2012-03-17

Collection location: Sebastopol, Sonoma Co., California, USA [Click for map]

Who: Darvin DeShazer (darv)

Specimen available

Collection #DD678

Species Lists


Proposed Names

78% (2)
Recognized by sight
90% (2)
Recognized by sight: Gel-filled locules separated by white sterile veins. Peridium dark chocolate to charcoal colored: atypical for M. tuberiformis.

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= Observer’s choice
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From NATS Field Guide to Selected North American Truffles and Truffle-like Fungi
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2013-05-15 16:23:42 CDT (-0400)

for Melanogaster tuberiformis Corda “Peridium dark brown, becoming nearly blackish brown at full maturity, thick, in wet weather often with dark brown droplets of fluid on the surface. Gleba gelatinous, black WITH WHITISH VEINS AT MATURITY; odor oily-metallic with a touch of garlic.”

White veins confirmed. Reddish-brown peridium is immature.

holotype info
By: Jonathan Frank (jonagus)
2012-11-14 20:38:53 CST (-0500)

The holotype is from 3 Sept 1983 collected by Henry Pavelek under Tsuga heterophylla at Mary’s Peak: Trappe #7491 OSC #82168

Just checked for holotype of M. natsii online
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2012-11-14 20:28:21 CST (-0500)

which gives credit to Pavelek and Trappe, 1995. This might be a reference to Henry Pavelek, who hunted at Paul Bishop’s in January of 1986. I believe my collection is from the 1992-94 period. I was doing a lot of collecting at Paul Bishop’s at the time, attempting to get collections from every month that a fungus was found, since accurate seasons of each fungus at the time were largely unknown. I received a collection identification reply card from Dr. J. Trappe noting this was the first sporocarp of M. natsii ever recovered.

The collection was written up in NATS Current News, which is available online if you wish to check further.

I only remember this instance specifically because the first known recovery of spores was from Mary’s Peak Study Area (Benton County), but the first recorded sporocarp was from Clackamas County, a considerable distance away.

I would not be surprised if collections had other data put on them: it has happened. As for the herbaria and citation, it was identified by Dr. James Trappe, and the collection was placed into the OSU herbaria. I would posit only Dr. James Trappe would have been able to distinquish between Melanogaster species at the time, as he had access to the OSU scanning electron microscope.

Wang Yun attended several forages at Paul Bishop’s as well at my parents’ property on Peterson’s Butte, where I gave Wang my collection of a species novum Stephenospora.

Within 250 feet of the M. natsii discovery site there was/is Grand fir, Douglas-fir, Oregon White oak (at that time, the tree was cut in 1996). There is no current Tsuga heterophylla at Paul Bishop Sr.’s. Paul was attempting to plant as many native species as possible in an arboretum about 300 feet distant from where the collection was found.

By: Jonathan Frank (jonagus)
2012-11-14 18:59:03 CST (-0500)

Well, I should probably wait until this is properly figured out. But I can say that the holotype for natsii is from Tsuga heterophylla, and there are many “misidentified” Melanogasters in various herbaria. While there is quite alot of spore morphology overlap, natsii does seem to have distinctive spores. So that is cool to hear of it originally being detected via fecal pellets! Since I am DNA biased, I would want to see that DNA confirms its presence on doug-fir. To date, I have not been able to do that. But I do have DNA from the holotype, so that is what I base my statement on. While I haven’t translated the species description (Wang 1995) from the chinese, Wang’s 1986 (pre-DNA) unpublished description (from OSU) claims natsii is under “Abies grandis, Corylus californicus, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Quercus spp. and Tsuga heterophylla,” which probably means multiple species were lumped together. And that is why I limit my statements to the holotype for now.

By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2012-11-14 15:35:21 CST (-0500)

To my knowledge, the first Melanogaster natsii collection I found at Paul Bishop’s Jones Creek Tree Farm. The species was previously known from spores found in animal fecal pellets, but the sporocarp had never been seen before. The original fecal pellet was found at the Marys Peak Study Area.

My collection came from a pure stand of Douglas-fir, previously a Christmas tree plantation, and before that a field of blackcaps. NO hemlock. Found several collections at the same site, +/- 20 feet. While it may also have been found associated with hemlock, it was originally found in a pure Douglas-fir stand, located about 150 feet north of Paul Bishop’s home, about the third row inside the outer edge of a pure stand of Douglas-fir.

1/2 specimen arrived
By: Jonathan Frank (jonagus)
2012-11-14 13:46:32 CST (-0500)

Thanks Darvin. I am working with Darlene Southworth, Mike Castellano and Jim Trappe to clarify the confusion with these aromatic “black bellies;” tuberiformis is an European species name, and the widespread PNW “neo-tuberiformis” nom. prov. is usually with conifers, although may also be with live oak in CA. Were there no conifers nearby? ambiguous is also European. natsii seems to be with western hemlock, phylogenetically near euryspermus and a soon-to-be-described white oak associate. I dont think the condition of the peridium is informative— but more a result of environmental conditions— as all species look like cocoa powder covered bonbons. Spore dimensions, associated trees and, of course, DNA are the most useful factors. Hopefully we’ll have this figured out in a few months. Until then, enjoy with cashew butter, or over mashed potatos!

Half Gone
By: Darvin DeShazer (darv)
2012-11-04 11:38:36 CST (-0500)

Sent half of the remaining collection to Jonathan Frank in Oregon.

Received collection, Darvin!
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2012-03-24 16:52:25 CST (-0500)

Dried sporocarps have more of a reddish-brown tint than the photos indicate, so still could be M. tuberiformis or M. ambigua.

Something still seems odd to me, though. The sporocarps received have deep external furrows or channels, which is atypical of Melanogaster. Need to send this to OSU Forestry Lab for more definitive identification.

My dried Melanogaster tuberiformis is still mostly globose to semi-globose. At least one of the specimens send as dried is deeply furrowed or channeled, and as dried more closely resembles an overgrown Genea or Genabea cerebriformis. But the external cilia is consistent with Melanogaster.

Can you describe the soil where found? Specimen card states White oak, live oak and hazelnut nearby. Was there no Douglas-fir at all? Douglas-fir is a near pre-requisite with our collections.

You lucky dogg!
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2012-03-18 16:38:55 CST (-0500)

Melanogasters make wonderful cashew butter for stuffing in celery sticks. Frank Evans, who worked on the Field Guide to North American Truffles, prepared a plate of Melanogaster grated into cashew butter, filling celery sticks as an apetitzer for NATS about 25 years ago. I’m afraid I ate many of the plate. Rude of me. YUM!

They were saved.
By: Darvin DeShazer (darv)
2012-03-18 15:55:25 CST (-0500)

These fruit in my front yard. All three observations of mine are from the same spot. An area of about 2m X 2m so they are all the same species. this observation is over two weeks later than the others, so the fruit bodies are riper and starting to get soft.

Wish you had collected this, Darvin.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2012-03-18 13:53:26 CST (-0500)

I don’t believe this is M. tuberiformis. It lacks the typical reddish peridium with yellowish-tints to the interior sterile gleba. Gleba also much more black than most of my M. tuberiformis.

I’m certain this is Melanogaster. But which one? Arora lists ambiguus, euryspermus, intermedius, macrocarpus, parksii and variegatus. M. natsii was identified after Mushrooms Demystified was published. I believe there are 2-3 other species in NATS collections which remain sp. nov. at this time.

This looks similar to M. natsii, which has only been reported from two locations in Oregon to date. Would need to have microscopy to be certain though.

Many of the less frequently confirmed Melanogasters are known from only a handful of collections. I suspect this is one of those. M. ambiguus, M. parksii and M. variegatus are the species I’d hone in on.