|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 359 March 24, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
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In the fall of 2004, Oluna Ceska collected a striking Phaeocollybia during the Walhalla Society's mycological inventory of an ancient (old-growth) forest in the Upper Incomappleux Valley, north of New Denver, British Columbia [Incomappleux River Valley, between McDougall & Battle Brook Cr. - 50 deg. 58.410' N 117 deg. 35.490' W; Sept. 12, 2004; O. Ceska; 2 sporocarps that will be deposited in DAVFP]. She brought her collection to the May, 2005, foray of the Pacific Northwest Key Council in Trout Lake, Washington (USA) for final identification.
Photos of the fresh specimen, the color of the dried pileus, and microscopical examination all confirm that her party successfully nabbed the northernmost interior collection of Phaeocollybia piceae yet documented.
The species, which is endemic to Pacific Northwest North America, was first described in 1972 by Alexander H. Smith and James Trappe based on a collection from the Cascade Head Experimental Research Forest on the northern Oregon coast. I have also collected it from US and Canadian coastal forests from Mendocino County in California northward through Oregon and Washington and into British Columbia, and from the western slope of the Oregon Coast Range in a Polk County (Oregon) chronosequence study. As gilled basidiomycete identifier for the recent US government Survey & Manage project, I also confirmed many additional collections from the western slope of the Oregon and Washington Cascade mountain range.
The species appears to occur more frequently proceeding north, and my most abundant collections were made in Heaven's Grove, in the Lower Carmanah Valley on Vancouver Island. Those and the mainland coastal collections tend to be small, but some collected in the inland valleys can be so robust as to be confused with Phaeocollybia kauffmanii (A.H.Sm) Singer . (P. kauffmanii and its fellow northwestern endemics P. ammiratii Norvell, P. benzokauffmanii Norvell, P. luteosquamulosa Norvell, and P. redheadii Norvell represent the largest phaeocollybias now known.)
Phaeocollybia piceae shares the following generic macroscopic and microscopic characters with other members of the genus: a cartilaginous stipe emanating from a subterranean pseudorhiza, a highly viscid (slimy) conical cap, brown, warty basidiospores, cheilocystidia, and tibiiform diverticula on both pseudorhiza and mycelium.
Field characters that distinguish Phaeocollybia piceae [shown in figure below] from other phaeocollybias include the uniformly orange to red-orange color of the cap, gills & stipe, the `monopodial' pseudorhiza, and a tendency to become insect-infested at ground level - to the extent that sometimes a specimen will topple over as you reach for it. Diagnostic microcharacters are basidiospore size and shape (heavily ornamented limoniform, approx. 10 x 6 um), thin-walled, irregularly clavate cheilocystidia, and a cap cuticle that lacks incrusting pigments. As both spores and cheilocystidia resemble those of the generally more robust P. kauffmanii, the easiest way to confirm the species microscopically is to mount the cap cuticle (pileipellis) in KOH. If the color fades from the mount after a few minutes, the species is probably P. piceae. P. kauffmanii has incrusting pigments and the color will remain brownish-orange, even in KOH.
|Phaeocollybia piceae A.H. Smith & Trappe. Photo: A. Ceska [Click on image for 2MB original].|
Like all phaeocollybias, Phaeocollybia piceae is ectomycorrhizal. The species, which was first described from a second-growth spruce (Picea sitchensis) forest, is frequently found in spruce habitats. However, inland collections and two collections made well south of spruce in California suggest that the species is not an obligate associate of Picea. More likely, the spruce and P. piceae may share a similar moisture requirement, both thriving in the temperate rainforest.
Additional microscopical work is still needed to document the Incomappleux collection fully. All phaeocollybias are considered relatively rare. Although Phaeocollybia piceae was flagged as a Strategy 1 species during the Northwest Forest plan, it turns out to be merely uncommon, with approximately 110 collections confirmed as occurring in the three states and one province.
Those interested in learning more about the Phaeocollybia species of western North America may consult the following references:
At irregular intervals botanists of the Pacific Northwest are treated to landmark publications which expand our knowledge, enhance our appreciation, and serve to emphasize the importance of plants in our landscapes. Some examples include Flora of Washington authored by Charles Piper in 1906 (and still our only flora specific to the State of Washington) and Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest published in five parts between 1955 and 1969 by C. Leo Hitchock, et al. (and its condensed one volume version published in 1973). More recently, between 1998 and 2002, the Illustrated Flora of British Columbia was published in 8 volumes and authored by multiple contributors (general editors: George W. Douglas, Del Meidinger and Jim Pojar). The new book by Eugene Kozloff is in the same league as these publications.
Plants of Western Oregon, Washington and British Columbia is a blend between a field guide and a technical manual or flora. It is comprehensive with respect to species coverage and relies on binomial keys for identification, two features that would be expected of a good flora. On the other hand the illustrations rely largely on photographs which is more characteristic of a field guide. This format expands the utility of the book to a broad range of plant people. Along this vein I believe readers will enjoy the paragraph devoted to the process of "Picture Keying" with an explanation of its utility and probable practitioners.
Here are some particulars. The geographic range of the book includes those lands west of the crest of the Cascades from southern British Columbia south to the California border. A significant advantage of this range, which extends south of the area covered by Hitchcock et al., is the inclusion of southern Oregon and the Siskiyou Mountains. This remarkably diverse area with its serpentine soils including wet serpentine seeps is underrepresented in our regional floristic literature. The Kozloff book provides botanical access to the Siskiyou flora that makes it worth a trip to the area next spring or summer.
A noteworthy attempt has been made to include all native and non-native species growing wild within the region, a daunting task considering the many non-native introductions and garden escapes that have become established on our landscapes; and the minimal effort that has been devoted to herbarium collecting for recently established non-native species. The effort has resulted in coverage of over 2500 taxa. We now have a reference book for many plants that may have previously required researching literature for eastern North America, Europe, Asia or other parts of the world.
Keeping current with scientific names will always be a moving target, but Kozloff has done an admirable job of using names which have become widely accepted while not including every name change that has been published. For example, the book includes many of our old friends in the genus, Aster even though there is published material that would eliminate this genus from our northwest flora by splitting the species into several different genera. While this may be the trend and the future, when the Asteraceae volumes are published by the Flora of North America project, most of us are not ready to adopt the complete array of new generic monikers for our Aster spp. Another taxonomic and nomenclature update that becomes accessible by this book is the widely accepted split of the Polypodiaceae into several distinct families. While this is old news, it has not been published with keys to families in literature that is widely available to northwest botanists.
Careful attention to taxonomy and nomenclature will calm some of the persistent confusion about native and non- native species in our flora. The genus, Cardamine provides a good example. For several years, many regional botanists have realized that the small weedy Cardamine which grows as a winter annual (often flowering in January) in multiple habitats of Pacific Northwest lowlands (gravel driveways, roadsides, cracks and crevices, rain gutters etc.) is really Cardamine hirsuta L. (an introduction from Europe) rather than C. oligosperma Nutt., the taxon it keys to in Hitchcock et al. Our native C. oligosperma is found in habitats such as rocky balds and moist prairies. The issue about these two species comes up as a question on internet botanical discussion groups nearly every year. The Kozloff book should reduce the confusion. (Note: The morphological character used by Kozloff to separate the two taxa is the shape of the tip of the fruit, a good character but requires mature fruits. The two species can also be separated by stamen number, nearly always four stamens for C. hirsuta and six for C. oligosperma). Another example is the clarification of the taxa of giant knotweeds. The morphological distinctions between Reynoutria japonica Houtt. - "R. cuspidata", R. sachalinensis (F.Schmidt) Nakai and their hybrid, R. X bohemica Chrtek & Chrtkova are clarified. This should be helpful to the weed managers of the region who are working to control these noxious species.
A second example in the genus, Juncus is worth mentioning. The confusing taxa of the Juncus effusus group has vexed taxonomists, restorationists and others for several years. The problem was compounded rather than solved by the treatment in Flora of North America. Recent research (much of it by local botanist, Peter Zika - see BEN # 358) has clarified the taxonomic status of J. effusus L. (and its subspecies), J. hesperius (Piper) Lint, J. conglomeratus L., and J. laccatus Zika. The results are now accessible without scouring the journalized literature.
The book takes an unusual tact to keying the flowering plants. There is one key for Broad-leaved Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines, and a second key for Herbaceous Flowering Plants. This approach will appeal to the logical botanizer even if not in tune with the phylogenetic approach of technical manuals. Within each of these keys one might end up at the name of a plant family (e.g. the Juncaceae), a complex consisting of two or more genera (e.g. the Ericameria-Pyrrocoma-Columbiadoria-Hazardia complex), a single genus or even a species. At this point the text will direct you to another key as necessary (usually a family key) that separates the species of the various genera. I expect this approach will be met with mixed reactions by user groups. Kozloff strives to eliminate obscure botanical language from the keys. In doing so, he provides accessibility for botanists at all levels of proficiency. Description of each species is limited to the material in the keys i.e. there are no separate species descriptions. Obviously this would have required several volumes rather than a single book. The five volumes by Hitchcock et al. will continue to serve for those seeking that kind of detail.
There are line drawings for some species, but the sine qua non of the book's illustrations is provided by over 700 color photographs. The photography is high quality and represents decades of patient work and attention to detail by the author. Plant photography is often a choice between a beautiful, artistic photo (often a macro shot) or a photo that aims to aid in the identification of a species. The Kozloff photographs represent an excellent compromise between these objectives--- they are enjoyable as appealing representations of nature as well as helpful for identification. The shiny yellow flowers of buttercups and the pure whites of many species represent two of the most difficult photographic challenges. Details get washed out or lost in the glare. Photographs in this book retain their detail in nearly all cases. As I peruse the photos I can visualize and almost hear Eugene Kozloff giving one of his patented plant talks illustrated with color slides.
No botany book can be all things to all people. That is why we allocate several book shelves to the subject. For species with limited range, a comment is usually included. This approach is helpful but is not included for all appropriate species. For example, Juncus exiguus occurs only in Oregon but no comment is included on its range. Kozloff notes that no comment on distribution is made for common, wide ranging species as it would not add materially to the usefulness of the book. Most floras and field guides published in recent years include an outline map with shaded areas showing species distributions, a convention that would have added much to the utility of this book.
An excellent feature throughout the book is an indication of the country or region of origin (e.g. Europe, Eurasia, Africa etc.)for those species not native to the western British Columbia, Washington or Oregon. Because the information is not available or records are weak, we cannot always be certain about the origin i.e. nativity of a species. The book may stimulate research and discussion regarding the native status of species that are in limbo.
Here is a personal note because I have taken an interest in the arrival and thriving of species in the family, Sarraceniaceae in Washington. Coverage of the family is limited to a discussion of the range of Darlingtonia californica. At least two species of Sarracenia (S. purpurea and S. flava) are naturalized in western Washington. Also, S. leucophylla and the Venus fly trap, Dionaea muscipula (of the Droseraceae) have persisted in western Washington at for at least 7 years. This information, whether you consider these species to be charming interlopers or undesirable introductions, is worth mentioning in a comprehensive flora of the region.
Along with the bibliographic references it would have been helpful to include web addresses for major herbaria in the region. Collection records for hundreds of thousands of species plus photographs of many species are rapidly coming on line for the herbaria at the University of Washington (Burke Museum), Oregon State University and Washington State University. The PLANTS data base of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its links provide extensive taxonomic, ethnobotanical, economic and other information for many species. This is not a book that you will routinely carry in your backpack. It is constructed of high quality (heavy) paper and at 500 pages plus, it tips the scale at 3.5 pounds.
Eugene Kozloff and Timber Press have brought us a book that will be widely appreciated and is destined for multiple printings. It fills a substantial portion of the need for updating the Hitchock and Cronquist one volume version of Flora of the Pacific Northwest. The publication of this book by a single author manifests the breadth and depth of Kozloff's knowledge and his dedication to the work. It is unusual in current times for a single author to take on subject of such a large scope. Many of you know the author personally and many more know him through his many contributions to understanding the natural history of the Pacific Northwest. Previous books include Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest and Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast. We can all join in congratulating Gene on the completion of this excellent book which will be enjoyed and appreciated by all botanical aficionados and practitioners in the Pacific Northwest. Buy a copy and get his signature the next time you have a chance to see one of his slide shows.
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