Macrotyphula fistulosa (Holmsk.) R. H. Petersen - Pipe Club

Clavaria fragilis - White Spindles

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

Simple, unbranched clubs, often appearing singly but sometimes in small tufts, when they look like worms trying to become airborne, Pipe Clubs are soft and so flexible that in open locations they can be seen waving in even the gentlest of breezes.

Distribution

Fairly common throughout Britain and Ireland, Macrotyphula fistulosa is one of those easily missed fungi, because its light brown stems look very much like twigs or young shoots yet to burst into leaf. This club fungus is found in most countries in mainland Europe, and it is reported also from parts of North America.

Taxonomic history

Some club-like and coral-like fungi are ascomycetous, but fairy clubs of Macrotyphula and related genera belong to the Basidiomycota.

Pipe Club was first described scientifically in 1790 by Danish mycologist Johan Theodor Holmskjold (1731 - 1793), who gave it the binomial scientific name Clavaria fistulosa.

The currently-accepted scientific name Macrotyphula fistulosa dates from a 1972 publication by American mycologist Ronald H Petersen (b. 1934).

(Because a variety Macrotyphula fistulosa var. contorta has been formally described, the autonomous variety is formally cited as Macrotyphula fistulosa var. fistulosa.)

Synonyms of Macrotyphula fistulosa var. fistulosa (Holmsk.) R.H. Petersen, include Clavaria fistulosa Holmsk., Clavaria ardenia Sowerby, Tremella ferruginea Schumach., Clavariadelphus fistulosus (Holmsk.) Corner, and Macrotyphula fistulosa (Holmsk.) R.H. Petersen.

Macrotyphula fistulosa is the type species of the genus Macrotyphula, which was established in 1972 by American mycologist Ronald H Petersen.

Etymology

The generic name Macrotyphula comes from the Latin Macro-, meaning large, and -typhula meaning slightly smokey. Much more obvious, and again from Latin, is the specific epithet fistula, which simply means a pipe or a tube.

Identification guide

Closeup of Pipe Club, Marcotyphula fistulosa

Fruitbody

Often somewhat laterally flattened and sometimes longitudinally grooved; occasionally straight but more often wavy; simple clubs with blunt, rounded or mitriform tips; ochre to light brown but occasionally more orange towards the fertile tips.

The individual stems are typically 5 to 30cm tall and 5 to 10mm across.

Picture Above: Holger Krisp, Ulm, Germany.

spores

Spores

Teardrop shaped, smooth, 10-16 x 5.5-8.5 µm; inamyloid, hyaline.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on the ground in leaf litter in deciduous woodlands and on woodland edges; sometimes growing from rotting wood, particularly birch.

Season

June to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Clavulinopsis fusiformis has a similar form but is golden yellow.

Culinary Notes

Pipe Club fungi are reported to be inedible.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Petersen RH. (1972). 'Notes on clavarioid fungi. XII. Miscellaneous notes on Clavariadelphus, and a new segregate genus'. Mycologia 64 (1): 137–52.

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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