ISSN 1188-603X

No. 393 May 15, 2008 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

Images associated with this issue are archived at


From: March Spore Prints #440


It is with profound sadness that we report the passing of the Puget Sound Mycological Society (PSMS) founding father Ben Woo, who died Friday, February 8, of heart failure. He had been ailing since last November, when he suffered a heart attack and then a stroke while in France for a regional foray with the North American Mycological Association (NAMA).

A charter member, Ben-along with UW Professor of Botany Daniel E. Stuntz and Pacific Science Center Director Dixie Lee Ray-was instrumental in the founding of PSMS in 1964. Never one to rest on his laurels, he continued to play an active role in PSMS until his death. He was the first president of the Society, the first chair of the annual exhibit, and the first editor of the club's newsletter, originally called the PSMS Bulletin. An architect who formerly headed his own firm, he prepared the plans for laying out the annual exhibit as well as serving as chair of the exhibit signage committee. He hosted field trips, taught mushroom classes, and, along with Joy Spurr, conducted a workshop of close-up photography. In 1980 when PSMS hosted the annual meeting of NAMA for the first time, he co-chaired the event.

His mushroom proficiency was not limited to PSMS. He was an active member of the Pacific Northwest Key Council, where he served a term as president and wrote the key to the genus Russula. He was also active in NAMA and for many years served as the board representative for its northwest region. In 2002 he received the prestigious NAMA award for "Contributions to Amateur Mycology."

In addition to his mushroom expertise, Ben was equally respected and esteemed outside the mushroom community. Widely known for his involvement in Seattle's International District, he was a founder of the Kin On nursing home, a founder of the Chinese Community Service Organization, president of the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and head of the Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority. He worked with the Lighthouse for the Blind, AIDS Housing of Washington, the Seattle Human Rights Commission, and the Mount Baker Housing Association. He was an original member of the Washington State Commission on Asian American Affairs. When he retired in 1995, he was the director of the King County Department of Construction and Facilities Management.

His dry wit, his wisdom, his keen intelligence that cut to the heart of any problem, his gentle, soft-spoken nature-he will be sorely missed.

There were no services. His ashes will be spread over his favorite mushroom spot.


From: Ammirati, J.F. (University of Washington, Seattle), A.D. Parker (Metaline Falls, Washington), & P.B. Matheny (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)


The Pacific Northwest has a climate and topography that has nurtured the development of diverse forest and other ecosystems. The various habitats that have developed in this region over time are a result of a sorting of plants into vegetation patterns in concert with animals, fungi and other organisms and in relation to edaphic and other abiotic factors. Early botanists and mycologists exploring this region realized the potential for a rich mycota of macro-fungi, particularly mushrooms, and over the years a steady stream of collectors from institutions in Europe, across North America and from this region have collected data on the diversity of these fungi. In the early 1900's C.H. Kauffman, W.A. Murrill, G.F. Atkinson, and other mycologists visited this region. As good fortune would have it, Alexander H. Smith, University of Michigan, visited here in the early 1930's. He began an intense endeavor to complete a study of western fleshy fungi, something G.F. Atkinson had planned but could not complete due to his untimely death in Tacoma, Washington in 1918.

Daniel E. Stuntz came in contact with Alex Smith in the late 1930's when the former was working at Yale University on the genus Inocybe in Washington State. Later Stuntz took a position at the University of Washington and he and Alex Smith maintained a correspondence and collaborations on fleshy fungi. In 1941 Alex collected extensively in Olympic National Park and from that trip described Clitocybe gomphidioides. In 1948 Alex Smith, Dan Stuntz, Emery Simmons and Henry Imshaug collected in Mount Rainier National Park, during that season, which was rather moist and cool, they collected material of a veiled Clitocybe that later was named C. subvelosa Smith & Stuntz. In the 1950's and 1960's additional collections of Clitocybe subvelosa were made in Colorado and Idaho by Alex Smith. All of these collections were made in the summer and fall seasons.

In April and May 2000, A. D. Parker collected a veiled Clitocybe near Metaline Falls, Washington, that tentatively was called "spring C. subvelosa". Brandon Matheny then sequenced DNAs from this mushroom to determine its phylogenetic relationship to other clitocyboid agarics (mushrooms with decurrent gills and a convex to funnel-shaped cap). In a multigene analysis seven groups of clitocyboid mushrooms were discovered including one representing the "spring C. subvelosa". The analysis showed that this species was not closely related to core species of Clitocybe, but rather formed a closer relationship with the genus Catathelasma. Given its unique phylogenetic position the new genus Cleistocybe was described based on this species (Ammirati et al. 2007).

Cleistocybe is distinguished from other clitocyboid genera by a combination of morphological characters, including gills that become gray in age, an interwoven gill trama with divergent elements when young, a strongly interwoven cap cuticle with pigmented and encrusted hyphae, a white spores deposit, a distinct or ephemeral fibrillose to submembranous partial veil, and smooth, inamyloid basidiospores that are inequilateral in profile view.

The next step was to evaluate collections of Clitocybe gomphidioides and C. subvelosa made by Alex Smith and Dan Stuntz and determine if they had the same major features as the "spring C. subvelosa" and therefore members of the genus Cleistocybe. The results of this study showed that they did fit the genus very well except for the apparent lack of a veil in Clitocybe gomphidioides. H. E. Bigelow in his study of these two species confronted the same question and concluded that "the two are very close in all characteristics, differing principally by the presence of a partial veil in C. subvelosa" (Bigelow 1985). This idea was also considered by Smith and Stuntz in their comparison of the species in 1950. Our evaluation of the lower stipe surface of C. gomphidioides material revealed a covering of narrow, interwoven hyphae very similar to those of the veil of C. subvelosa. ITS sequences of three collections of C. subvelosa and four collections of C. gomphidioides were essentially identical leading to the conclusion that the partial veil material was not apparent when C. gomphidioides was described by Alex Smith. Therefore, Clitocybe subvelosa was determined to be conspecific with C. gomphidioides and the latter was transferred to the genus Cleistocybe.

Finally, we had to determine whether or not the "spring C. subvelosa" from Metaline Falls was the same as Cleistocybe gomphidioides. First of all the "spring C. subvelosa" is known from only a single locality and likely is rare, in comparison to C. gomphidioides a summer and fall species, more widespread but rarely collected. In addition, the cap cuticle in the "spring C. subvelosa" is not gelatinous as it is in C. gomphidioides, and the basidiospores of the former are somewhat smaller and more elliptical, although the basidiospore features will require further study of additional populations to be sure they are meaningful. The cap surface of fresh specimens of "spring C. subvelosa" turns green with the application of KOH, however, this has not been tested for C. gomphidioides. ITS sequences of the "spring C. subvelosa" and C. gomphidioides differ at 76 nucleotide positions (excluding gaps) among 605 non-gapped sites (648 total aligned sites). The genetic or "p" distance between the two species at the ITS locus is 12.5 %. Thus the vernal occurrence, nongelatinous cap cuticle, and ITS data serve to distinguish "spring C. subvelosa" from C. gomphidioides. Thus it was described as a new species, Cleistocybe vernalis Amm., Parker & Matheny (see also Parker 2007).

Over the past century a number of mycologists have made significant contributions towards a better understanding our mycota. None-the-less there is still much work to be done, new discoveries to be made, and many relationships to explore. The use of molecular phylogenies has opened a new era in fungus systematics, one that allows us to explore more closely and better define relationships and biogeographical patterns of fungus species. The above findings represent one small step toward our goal of knowing the fungi of our region.


Ammirati, J.F., A.D. Parker, & P. B. Matheny. 2007.
Cleistocybe, a new genus of Agaricales. Mycoscience 48: 282-289.
Bigelow, Howard E. 1985.
North American species of Clitocybe - Part II. Nova Hedwigia Beihefte 81: 1-281.
Parker, A.D. 2007.
Cleistocybe vernalis: A new genus & species of Agaricales. (Poster)


From: Darlene Southworth (Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR) email:

In 2005 Robert Coffan a consulting hydrologist and adjunct professor at Southern Oregon University, Ashland, discovered a species of Psathyrella (Basidiomycota) with true gills fruiting underwater in the clear, cold, flowing waters of the upper Rogue River in Oregon. He brought the fruiting bodies to Jonathan Frank and Darlene Southworth, Department of Biology, Southern Oregon University. They went with him in 2007 and observed fruiting bodies in the main channel, constantly submerged, near aquatic vegetation. We observed them fruiting over 11 weeks. These appear to be truly underwater mushrooms and not mushrooms fruiting on wood recently washed into the river. Substrates include water-logged wood, gravel, and the silty river bed. DNA sequence data of the ITS region and a portion of the 28S ribosomal DNA gene place this fungus in Psathyrella sensu stricto near P. brooksii and P. gracilis.

Based on molecular and morphological evidence, we conclude that the underwater mushrooms are a new species and have a manuscript under revision with Mycologia to describe it. Submersion under water constrains spore dispersal. Spores were observed as wedge-shaped rafts released into a gas pocket under the cap. Underwater formation of normal gills and ballistospores indicate a recent adaptation to the stream environment. This particular river habitat combines the characteristics of spring-fed flows, clear, cold, aerated water with woody debris in shallow depths on a fine volcanic substrate. The presence of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria near fruiting body attachment sites suggests a source of nitrogen in an otherwise clear stream. This observation adds to the biodiversity of stream fungi that degrade woody substrates.

If you see any in streams, email


Oluna Ceska & Adolf Ceska []


In December 2001, we found a peculiar, deep red mushroom on an arbutus Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) stump and identified it as Naucoria vinicolor. For several years we searched for this mushroom without finding it.

In December 2005, we found this fungus again on a site where there were three Arbutus/Pacific Madrone trees that had it growing on their base. We learned that P. Brandon Matheny and his colleagues were working on this group of mushrooms and we made a more extensive search for this fungus.

With the help of the Department of National Defence (DND), we focused our search on the military areas where we knew, from our previous field work, their were many old Arbutus menziesii trees suitable for hosting this fungus. Having some vague ideas about the phenology of this fungus, we timed our search for late December and early January.

In winter 2005/2006 we found eight sites with the red mushroom, five of which were on DND property. We collected enough material from a relatively large area (Cobble Hill to Rocky Point) to enable our colleagues to study its morphology. One of us (Oluna Ceska) was invited to be a co-author of a paper that would clarify the taxonomy of this group of mushrooms.

The authors of the paper (Matheny et. al. 2007) concluded that the fungus we found should be called Tubaria punicea (A.H. Sm. & Hesler) Ammirati, Matheny, et P.-A. Moreau, and that this taxon is different from Naucoria vinicolor (our original identification). Our material collected from southern Vancouver Island was crucial to this taxonomical decision, since Brandon Matheny and his collaborators had no fresh material for DNA analyses.

Our surveys continued in the following winter of 2006/2007. Several volunteers took part in the surveys exploring new areas, and they found eight new sites and extended the known distribution of this fungus from Rocky Point in Metchosin to Little Mountain near Parksville. All these searches were either on private properties, parks, or Crown land. We now know this fungus from more non-DND sites than those on DND properties. The results of those surveys are in Table 1.

The phenological observations were done with the help of a number of volunteers who visited the Tubaria punicea sites in Metchosin, Mill Hill Regional Park, and Observatory Hill. The earliestTubaria punicea fruiting was on October 24, 2006 (Mill Hill), and fruiting continued until January 6, 2007 (Metchosin). There was a second flush of this fungus at the end of March (March 25, 2007 in Langford and March 28, 2007 on Observatory Hill). This second fruiting was suspected to be triggered by the abnormally high precipitations in March 2007.

The investigation of Arbutus trees on southern Vancouver Island yielded 13 sites with Tubaria punicea, five of which were on DND properties. A total of 40 Arbutus/Pacific Madrone trees were observed to have T. punicea and GPS coordinates were recorded (Table 1).

In spite of the fact that we added quite a few sites, Tubaria punicea is still rare. The Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) that oversees the listing of rare organisms still has not listed a single fungus as rare in Canada. Tubaria punicea would be an ideal species for such a listing; however, 'official' rare status for this species is unlikely unless COSEWIC changes the criteria for the listing that apply for animals and vascular plants, mosses and lichens, as they are not suitable for fungi.


Matheny, P. Brandon, Else C. Vellinga, Neale L. Bougher, Oluna Ceska, Pierre-Arthur Moreau, Maria Alice Neves, Joseph F. Ammirati. 2007.
Taxonomy of displaced species of Tubaria. Mycologia 99(4): 569-585.

Table 1: GPS coordinates of Arbutus menziesii trees with Tubaria punicea (NAD83)

Albert Head - DND property
        48 23.3406' N.  123 28.7346' W.
Cobble Hill
        48 40.8702' N.  123 37.8426' W.
        48 40.8762' N.  123 37.7946' W.
        48 40.8996' N.  123 37.7616' W.
        48 40.8828' N.  123 37.7598' W.
        48 40.8930' N.  123 37.7874' W.
        48 40.8654' N.  123 37.8174' W.
        48 40.8738' N.  123 37.7520' W.
        48 40.8786' N.  123 37.6686' W.
Heals Rifle Range - DND property
        48 32.9436' N.  123 28.1106' W.
        48 32.9580' N.  123 28.1400' W.
        48 32.9592' N.  123 28.1358' W.
        48 32.9760' N.  123 28.1358' W.
        48 32.9382' N.  123 28.1088' W.
Langford, 1312 Glenshire Drive
        48 25.8246' N.  123 32.5980' W.
        48 25.8384' N.  123 32.5788' W.
Little Mtn., Errington, near Parksville
        49 17.6442' N.  124 19.3212' W.
Mary Hill - DND property
        48 20.9310' N.  123 32.6502' W.
        48 20.8938' N.  123 32.7714' W.
Metchosin, N of 5041 Williams Head Road
        48 21.5250' N.  123 32.6706' W.
        48 21.5370' N.  123 32.6538' W.
        48 21.5316' N.  123 32.6280' W.
Metchosin, between the Williams Head Road
                & Gallopping Goose Trail
        48 21.4164' N.  123 32.9772' W.
        48 21.2052' N.  123 33.0426' W.
        48 21.1998' N.  123 33.1140' W.
        48 21.2232' N.  123 33.0942' W.
Mill Hill Regional Park
        48 27.3460' N.  123 28.7770' W.
Miniskirt Mtn.
        48 27.7944' N.  123 31.2114' W. (3 trees)
Observatory Hill, Saanich - federal property
        48 31.5162' N.  123 25.3392' W.
        48 31.4820' N.  123 25.3512' W.
        48 31.2900' N.  123 25.2384' W.
        48 31.2906' N.  123 25.2438' W.
        48 31.2792' N.  123 25.2414' W.
        48 31.2810' N.  123 25.2444' W.
        48 31.2312' N.  123 25.2192' W.
Rocky Point, DND property
        48 19.7916' N.  123 33.3558' W.
        48 19.8018' N.  123 33.2826' W.
Yew Point, DND property
        48 26.2920' N.  123 27.0618' W.
        48 26.3226' N.  123 27.0738' W.
        48 26.3208' N.  123 27.0936' W.

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