The North American Species of Pholiota

135. Pholiota decorata var. decorata (Murr.) comb. nov.

Gymnopilus decoratus Murrill, Mycologia 4: 251. 1912.
Flammula decorata (Murr.) Murrill, Mycologia 4: 262. 1912.

Illustrations: Text figs. 287-288; pls. 63-64, 79b.

Pileus 3-7 (9) cm broad, obtuse to convex when young, expanding to umbonate with a spreading margin, or nearly plane, disc dark vinaceous brown ("natal-brown," "army-brown" to "cameo-brown" at first, fading to near "fawn-color") the margin pallid to avellaneous, in age often "Isabella-color," surface glutinous to viscid, with numerous to scattered rows of concentrically arranged fibrillose scales above the gelatinous layer, scales frequently disappearing before maturity, in age often glabrous and appearing fibrillose-streaked beneath the gluten, margin usually fringed with fibrils when young. Context moderately thick, watery cartilaginous to soft and pliant, white to (in age) yellowish; odor faintly fragrant or lacking, taste mild or nearly so.

Lamellae adnate to sinuate, sometimes merely depressed, close, moderately broad, thin, white to yellowish ("ivory-yellow"), becoming avellaneous and finally dingy clay-color, edges even or nearly so.

Stipe 4-8 (11) cm long, 3-8 (10) mm thick, solid but becoming hollow, equal above a subbulbous base or base not enlarged, cortex brownish in base, yellowish to pallid above, surface over lower portion covered by dingy vinaceous brown floccose-fibrillose scales or patches from a ruptured sheath which at first extends to the annular zone or scales mostly whitish, apex silky and pale greenish yellow to pallid.

Spores (5.5) 6-7.5 (8.5) x 3.5-4.5 µ, smooth, apical pore minute, ochraceous rusty-brown to ochraceous-tawny in KOH, paler ochraceous in Melzer's reagent; wall about 0.25-0.3 µ thick, shape in face view ovate to elliptic with some obscurely wedge-shaped, in profile obscurely inequilateral to somewhat bean-shaped.

Basidia (19) 23-27 x 5-7 µ, 4-spored, clavate, hyaline to yellowish in KOH, yellowish in Melzer's reagent. Pleurocystidia 50-90 x (6) 9-18 µ, fusoid-ventricose with obtuse apex, with a slender basal stalk in many extending from below the subhymenium, thick- to thin-walled (on the same pileus) but some thick-walled individuals seen in every mount, wall 1-1.5 or up to 2 µ thick in neck but thin at apex, smooth, hyaline to yellow in KOH (pigment mostly in content and fading). Cheilocystidia 36-55 x 8-12 µ, subfusoid to nearly clavate or more or less fusoid-ventricose, yellow to hyaline in KOH, mostly thin-walled, smooth in KOH. Caulocystidia versiform, 1) clavate to vesiculose, 15-40 x 12-30 µ, walls smooth, thin to slightly thickened and yellowish to hyaline in KOH; 2) subfusiform, 40-60 x 9-14 µ with slightly thickened (0.5 µ) walls, content homogeneous, occurring both types together in a cluster.

Gill trama a floccose central strand of non-gelatinous thin-walled subparallel hyphae that are smooth and ochraceous to hyaline in KOH, inamyloid. Pileus cutis a gelatinous layer of widely separated narrow hyphae (± 2.5 µ) diam., smooth, and thin-walled; hypodermium of ochraceous slightly roughened floccose hyphae 4-8 µ diam. Context hyphae greatly inflated, smooth, walls thin, inamyloid. Clamp connections present.

Habit, Habitat, and Distribution: Single to scattered on fallen conifer branches and debris, July to November in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Colorado; in Canada known from British Columbia.

Observations: As Kauffman (1926) points out, the measurements of cystidia given by Murrill (1912) are incorrect. Kauffman also adds that the taste is slowly bitter and somewhat nauseous. In an Oregon collection (No. 3560), Smith detected a slight fragrant odor. It appears to prefer a conifer habitat, but in Smith 47205, from Idaho, it grew on birch. This is one of the characteristic species on conifer slash in the Pacific Northwest, and will be found to vary in color depending on whether it fruits during relatively dry or very wet weather. It is generally paler under the latter condition. Smith has encountered numerous collections in which the gills gradually become bright yellow and few spores were ever found on them. Since this same feature is a very common one during good seasons in species of Naematoloma, a closely related genus, no particular significance was ascribed to it in the field and no collections were saved in which it was specifically noted. However, sterility or partial sterility in species of the Strophariaceae is sufficiently common to deserve detailed study—particularly the accompanying change in the pigment features of the basidiocarp.

The pleurocystidia were described as thin-walled by Kauffman in his notes on the type and his identified collections under this name show such cystidia but in addition thick-walled cystidia also are present. In many of Smith's collections most of the cystidia are thick-walled. Apparently in fresh specimens the cystidia all appear thin-walled, at least Smith made no notation of thick walled elements in the hymenium at the time the material was fresh. The character needs further observation on fresh specimens and then these same specimens dried and the cystidia rechecked in KOH.

In the type this same condition prevails. Cystidia with walls 1.5 µ thick or more are not uncommon but there are as many or more with thin walls. The species concept here put forth is consistent with the microscopic characters of the type.

Material Examined: CALIFORNIA: 3569, 3659, 3734, 3872, 3916, 8198, 56109, 56119; COLORADO: Smith 51386, 52373, 52485, 58599; IDAHO: 47205, 53662, 54770, 69700, 70180, 70259, 70481, 70577, 70844, 71104; OREGON: Gruber 32, 18-8; Kauffman 10-16-22; Smith 3286, 3591, 7899, 8074, 19663, 20165, 24388, 24696, 24697, 28138, 28209, 55417; WASHINGTON: Murrill 553 (type); Kauffman 9-21-15, 10-19-15, 10-28-25, 11-5-25; Smith 16986, 17017, 17047, 17107, 17227, 68744. CANADA (BRITISH COLUMBIA) Buckland 71 (MICH).