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Rhizopogon luteolus (Family Rhizopogonaceae)

Distribution:

Found growing near introduced conifers in southern Australia. The distribution shown on the map is based on herbarium records and reliable sightings. It is likely that this species has a wider distribution than that shown on the map. However there has been little work on the distribution of Australian fungi and there are surprisingly few herbarium specimens of even the common species. (ACT, NSW, SA, VIC, TAS, WA).

Features:

The fruiting body is more or less spherical, although often a bit distorted in shape, and up to 3 cm in diameter. The outer skin is dry and creamy to yellowish brown, with numerous dark fibrils (or rhizomorphs) stuck to the skin. Some rhizomorphs extend out from the base of the fruiting body.

The inside is gelatinised, though drying hard, and consists of numerous minute chambers. The interior is initially white but becomes dark brown with age. You may need to use a hand lens or magnifying glass to see the chambers.

The fruiting bodies are typically half-buried, half-protruding above the soil.

Under the microscope the spores are brown. Basidiomycete.

Ecology/Way of Life:

This is a mycorrhizal truffle-like fungus.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species has been introduced to Australia. It may have been accidentally introduced to some States, but it was deliberately introduced to Western Australia to help the growth of trees in pine plantations.

Other Comments:

The type specimen was collected in Sweden, but the species is cosmopolitan. Another species, Rhizopogon rubesecens, is also common amongst introduced pine trees in Australia. This species typically shows red bruising which is absent from Rhizopogon luteolus.

Further Reading:

Beaton, G., Pegler, D.N. & Young T.W.K. (1985). Gasteroid Basidiomycota of Victoria State, Australia: 5 – 7. Kew Bulletin, 40: pp573 – 598.

Cleland, J.B. (1976). Toadstools and mushrooms and other larger fungi of South Australia. Parts I and II, 1934 – 1935. (repr.) South Australian Government Printer.

Cunningham, G.H. (1979). The Gasteromycetes of Australia and New Zealand. (repr.) J. Cramer.

Pegler, D.N., Spooner, B.M. & Young, T.W.K. (1993). British Truffles: a Revision of British Hypogeous Fungi, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Smith A.H. & Zeller, S.M. (1966). A Preliminary Account of the North American Species of Rhizopogon. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden. 14:2.

Acknowledgments:

Text and map by Heino Lepp.
Image kindly provided by Bruce Fuhrer from his recent book: A Field Guide to Australian Fungi

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