Calocera pallidospathulata D. A. Reid - Pale Stagshorn

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Dacrymycetes - Order: Dacrymycetales - Family: Dacrymycetaceae

Calocera pallidospathulata - Pale Stagshorn

This unbranching jelly fungus, with tiny white translucent fruitbodies usually shorter than the thickness of a finger, can be seen on trunks and twigs of deciduous broadleaf trees.

Pale Stagshorn looks rather like a club fungus; however, it is much less brittle and microscopic examination reveals that it has distinctive Y-shaped basidia, which are diagnostic characteristics of members of the order Dacrymycetales.

Calocera pallidospathulata - Pale Stagshorn, lemon form

Distribution

This species was not discovered in Britain until 1969; however, it is now known to be quite common but rather localised across Britain, mainly in central and eastern England, and (very rarely) in south-east Ireland, and it is also reported from many parts of mainland Europe.

Taxonomic history

Pale Stagshorn was first described scientifically in 1974 by the British mycologist Derek Agutter Reid (1926 - 2006). It does not appear to have any synonyms.

Etymology

Calo- means beautiful, while the extension -cera comes from ancient Greek and means 'like wax', so that the genus name Calocera translates to 'beautiful and waxy' - and that accurately describes the form of Calocera pallidospathulata.

Just as it sounds, the specific epithet pallidospathulata means pale (pallid-) and spathulate (= spatulate) meaning shaped like a spatula - a broad, flat flexible blade used to mix food and other substances.

Identification guide

Close-up of Calocera palidospathulata - Pale Stagshorn

Fruitbody

Initially pale translucent yellow, becoming more palid; irregularly shaped but with rounded rather than sharp tips; greasy and viscid; occasionally forked; clustered in non-merging groups; 2 to 10mm tall and typically 1-2mm across. Rubbery and gelatinous in texture.

 

Spores

Sausage shaped, smooth,10-15 x 3.5-5µm; inamyloid; with large oil drops; becoming septate at maturity with 1 to 3 septae (dividing walls).

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on well-rotted trunks, stumps and fallen branches of dead conifers and broadleaf trees.

Season

Fruiting through most of the year in Britain, but particularly prevalent in autumn.

Similar species

Calocera cornea is similar but a brighter yellow, not whitish.

Calocera viscosa is yellow and much larger; it has branches emanating from a short trunk.

Calocera pallidospathulata - Pale Stagshorn, closeup of lemon form

Culinary Notes

Although not known to cause poisoning, Pale Stagshorn fungus is regarded as inedible; it is also an uncommon and insubstantial fungus and so collecting it for eating would not be worthwhile.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

McNabb R.F.R. 1965. Taxonomic studies in the Dacrymycetaceae II. Calocera (Fries) Fries. New Zealand J. Bot. 3: 31–58.

BMS List of English Names for Fungi

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding and David Kelly.

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