Clavulinopsis laeticolor (Berk. & M.A. Curtis) R.H. Petersen - Handsome Club

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Clavariaceae

Clavulinopsis laeticolor - Handsome Club

One of several very similar yellow or orange club fungi, this club can be found on leaf litter in damp deciduous woodland or occasionally in hedgerows. Although the Handsome Club is most often found in woodlands, it also occurs very occasionally in unimproved grassland habitats.

Confident identification of yellow or orange fairy clubs from macroscopic characteristics alone is not generally feasible; microscopic characteristics have to be examined to confirm the identity of many of these superficially very similar club fungi.

Distribution

In Britain and Ireland Handsome Club is fairly common. It also occurs on mainland Europe and in other parts of the world including North America.

Taxonomic history

This fairy club fungus was described in 1799 by English botanist Miles Joseph Berkeley and New Zealander Moses Ashley Curtis (1808 - 1872), who gave it the binomial scientific name Clavaria laeticolor. It was not until 1965 that the currently accepted scientific name Clavulinopsis laeticolor arose, when American mycologist Ronald H Petersen (born 1934) transferred this species to the genus Clavulinopsis.

Synonyms of Clavulinopsis laeticolor include Clavaria laeticolor Berk. & M.A. Curtis, Clavaria pulchra Peck, Clavaria persimilis Cotton, Clavulinopsis pulchra (Peck) Corner, and Clavulinopsis laeticolor f. bulbispora R.H. Petersen.

Etymology

The origin of the generic name is the Latin noun clava meaning a club, with the suffix implying that it looks quite similar to species in the genus Clavulina. The Clavulinopsis genus is closely related to Clavulina and Clavaria, but fungi in the Clavulinopsis group have tougher, less brittle fruitbodies that are solid rather than hollow in structure. The most obvious microscopic difference is that Clavulinopsis species have clamp-connections in the tramal tissues.

The specific epithet laeticolor also comes from Latin and means 'of a joyous colour' - in other words, pretty, I guess. That may not be the most descriptive of adjectives, but a photogenic group of these fairly clubs certainly is a joy to behold.

Identification Guide

Close-up of tips of Clavulinopsis laeticolor

Fruitbody

Usually clustered but not often fused at the base; rarely branched; straight or only slightly curved; sometimes flattened in cross-section; tips either obtuse, spatulate, or very occasionally pointed; tapering toward the base; surface smooth, yellow-orange to orange, paler near the base.

The individual clubs are typicaly 2 to 5cm tall and 1.5 to 3mm diameter.

 

Spores

Broadly ellipsoidal or subglobose, smooth, 4.5-7 x 3.5-5.5µm; with a prominent apiculus (where the spore was originally attached to the basidium) 1.5 to 2 µm in length, often arising more or less tangentially rather than vertically from the spore surface.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, growing from leaf litter in damp woodland; very occasionally also in grassland habitats.

Season

July to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Clavulinopsis luteoalba, the Apricot Club, forms dense tufts of clubs that are lateraly compressed and sometimes forked.

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.

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