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The final part in the fungi masterclass


The final part in the fungi masterclass brought to us courtesy of Andre Jagger...

The final part in this series, details a Polyporale mushroom. For many years this little mushroom was known commonly as a Polyporus species something or other ... commonly elegans, leptocephalus, .... In fact, many of these little and not so little polypores were confusing to name since they appeared to be a mix of several known descriptions of polypore mushrooms. This is most likely a result of new species being found or species with variable traits that are complete look-alikes for other species. This slight to certain ambiguity remained the case until around 2016 and due to microscopic traits being used often the ambiguity remains for the amateur mycologist.

Ivan Zmitrovitch and Alexander Kovalenko from Russia and Kozue Sotome and Tsutomu Hattori from Japan, worked on the Molecular Phylogenetics of the Polyporaceae. In particular, from 2012 to 2016, the Genus Polyporus underwent extensive changes. The bulk of the common polypores in Genus Polyporus were moved with new combinations in names - Picipes, Cerioporus, Favolus, Neofavolus - their work turned the Polyporaceae family upside down and the number of new combination names that arose from their research was close to gobsmacking. It is little wonder that this took a long time to digest and only more recently have many of the new names been widely used and accepted. Many of the popular and better known polypores from genus Polyporus have now been moved into the new genera, Cerioporus and Picipes. Another consequence of Zmitrovitch and Kovalenko was the work in which the red brackets formerly in the genus Pycnoporus, of which there are quite possibly at least two species in Hong Kong, were moved into the genus Trametes, this alone took a long time for the dust to settle and people to accept the new names or even to know change was afoot.

Found on the entry into the Kam Shan Country Park around the Upper Shek Lei Hang Village this little polypore was hidden amongst leaves under several native plants alongside the stone path. It was almost missed and I was fortunate to find it and have since found several others in other places in Hong Kong. It is to be noted that most specimens have a pileus that is funnel shaped but the one described here had an flat pileus (cap). The pores are reminiscent of Islamic Geometric Motif designs, simply beautiful, and the larger pores are on average 0.5 mm long by 0.2 mm wide. Roughly that would be around 2-3 per millimetre. This little critter has large pores compared with those of its look-alike fellows in both Genus Cerioporus and Picipes.

Given microscopy at high resolution is required to determine the difference between Picipes and Cerioporus, the writer has indicated a possible genus for the species observed and given the writer has not done the microscopy this genus could well be Picipes. Looking at pictures on the internet and in Mushroom Observer ( was an almost futile task. I had requested a detailed paper from Chinese mycologists which provided many of the Picipes species found in China so far but have not yet received the paper. The authors use of the "species cf." originates from the fact that the pores vary to some extent from those seen in most specimens on the internet, whether vouchered or not. Otherwise, C. leptocephalus is a macromorphological look alike.

One year later I found under Delonix regia trees, that line the side of Wo Yi Hop Road close to the corner with Shing Mun Road, another one of these polypores. This time the pileus was infundibuliform (funnel shaped) but had been severely attacked by fungus fly larvae. It too had the large pores and hairy brown stipe with an underlying black cuticle. I suspect this is a Chinese species of Cerioporus or Picipes and does not fit into the traditionally known species descriptions.

The wood was examined this time, whilst the dead wooden branch was found under Delonix regia I suspect the wood actually was Aleurites moluccanus (Candlenut Tree). Candlenut trees could be found higher up the slope beside location on Wo Yi Hop Road. Examination of the wood revealed the fungal hyphae have extensively penentrated the wood xylem tissue (vascular bundle for Xylem vessels) right through to the very heartwood or centre of the branch. One also notes there is no typical cuticular disc at the base of the stipe for this species. Rather, the cuticle grades out and the hairy overcoat extends to cover the surrounds at the base of the stipe. Further, this hairy overcoat on the stipe is persistent with age, the stipe never becomes glabrous.

Whilst Picipes appears to now be a fully accepted genus, a final note from a recent search of the literature revealed that the Chinese Mycologists, Mycosphere 13(1): 1–52 (2022) 'Taxonomy, phylogeny and divergence (Basidiomycota) and related genera times of Polyporus' by X. Ji, JL. Zhou, CG. Song, TM. Xu, DM. Wu and BK. Cui, have rejected Cerioporus in favour of leaving the entries in Cerioporus under their previous genera names. So for stiped polypores in Cerioporus this would mean they revert to Polyporus. This was due in the large to a lack of evidence to support the move of so many genera into Cerioporus. The squamosus clade contained species belonging to several different genera viz. Datronia, Datroniella, Echinochaete, Mycobonia, Neodatronia, Polyporus s. lat. and Pseudofavolus, but there is not enough efficient morphological evidence to combine all species in the squamosus clade into a specific genus, namely Cerioporus. The situation may have been different if Zmitrovich and Kovalenko had just created the genus Cerioporus for the Polyporus s. lat. species to be moved. So, there is more work to be done to figure out what new and existing genera are needed to deal with the squamosus clade in the polyporaceae.

#fungi #fungus #mushrooms #mushroom #nature #naturephotography #hongkong #scientificillustration #scientific #illustration #Polyporus #Cerioporus #Polyporus leptocephalus #Cerioporus leptocephalus

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