Clavulina rugosa (Bull.) J. Schröt. - Wrinkled Club

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Cantharellales - Family: Clavulinaceae

Clavulina rugosa, Wrinkled Club

This small club fungus is often solitary or in scattered groups among the moss beside woodland footpaths. The club is flattened in cross section and has very few irregularly-shaped branches. The branch tips are blunt rather than having pointed tips as other white clubs, such as Clavaria fragilis (White Spindles) do.

Seen on a misty day in dark woodland, these strange little fungi with - Classic 'ghostly forms' might just send a fertile imagination racing.

Clavulina rugosa, Wrinkled Club - specimens with more wrinkles than most

Above: This fine specimen definitely deserves the adjective 'wrinkled' in it common name.

Distribution

Very common in woodlands in most parts of mainland Britain and Ireland, as indeed it is in most other parts of northern Europe, Clavulina rugosa seems to be much rarer in the warmer countries of southern Europe. This species is also recorded in North America and in many other temperate parts of the world.

Taxonomic history

The Wrinkled Club was described in 1790 by French mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard, who gave it the binomial scientific name Clavaria rugosa. Nearly a century later, in 1888, German mycologist Joseph Schrötter (1837 - 1894) transferred this species to the genus Clavulina, thereby establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Clavulina rugosa.

Clavulina rugosa, showing its gregarious nature

The many synonyms of Clavulina rugosa include Clavaria rugosa var. alcyonaria Corner, Clavaria rugosa Bull., Clavaria grossa Pers., Clavaria canaliculata Fr., Ramaria rugosa (Bull.) Gray, Clavaria rugosa var. fuliginea Fr., Clavaria macrospora Britzelm., Clavulina rugosa var. alcyonaria Corner, Clavulina rugosa var. canaliculata (Fr.) Corner, Clavulina rugosa var. fuliginea (Fr.) Corner, and Clavulina rugosa var. macrospora (Britzelm.) Corner.

Etymology

The specific epithet rugosa means wrinkled or rough.

The picture above shows not only how varied in form the Wrinkled Club can be but also just how gregarious these little fairy clubs are. Although they are easy to see, often it is impossible to walk on the forest floor without treading upon some of the fruitbodies.

Identification guide

Closeup of Clavulina rugosa

Fruitbody

Because the stem and the fertile upper section of the fruitbody are the same colour - white or cream or occasionally light grey - there is no clear delineation between the infertile and fertile surfaces. Some examples of this fungus branch but rarely spread out significantly, and many do not branch at all.

The bluntish tips, which have wrinkled and uneven surfaces surfaces, are laterally compressed but not forked, and are usually 5 to 12cm tall.

Spores of Clavulina rugosa

Spores

Broadly ellipsoidal to subglobose, smooth, 8.5-13.5 x 7.8-12µm; inamyloid.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Considered to be mycorrhizal, singly or in small groups on the ground beneath deciduous and coniferous trees; very often beside footpaths.

Season

August to December in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Clavulina cinerea is a grey, branching fungus that does not have the characteristic surface wrinkles of Clavulina rugosa.

Culinary Notes

The Wrinkled Club is reported to be edible, but its small size mean that there is little temptation to try gathering and eating this insubstantial woodland fungus.

Clavulina rugosa, Wrinkled Club - specimens with more 'cristate' tips

Above: Some specimens have sharpish tips more reminiscent of Crested Coral Clavulina coralloides.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

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 a picture kindly submitted by Beverley and Ivan Stafford.

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