|Major Groups > Oddballs & Misfits > Gasteroid Gilled Mushrooms & Boletes > Cortinarius pingue|
|Major Groups > Gilled Mushrooms > Dark-Spored > Cortinarius > Cortinarius pingue|
by Michael Kuo
Formerly known as Thaxterogaster pingue, this oddball of the western mountains is actually a "gasteroid" species of Cortinarius. Its cap begins to develop but never opens up to expose the gills, which are consequently poorly formed. The microscopic spore-producing machinery works perfectly well, however, manufacturing Cortinarius-like spores that are presumably dispersed when the cap begins to disintegrate, or when foraging creatures have a yummy meal and continue foraging elsewhere.
Mycologists have long debated the evolutionary significance of gasteroid gilled mushrooms and boletes like Cortinarius pingue, and have often been tempted to see these mushrooms as "transitional" forms. But recent DNA analyses have begun to place gasteroid genera like Thaxterogaster and Rhizopogon (now simply Suillus) smack in the middle of "normal" genera--indicating the likelihood that gasteroid forms evolved independently as adaptations to certain environments.
Cortinarius pingue is a common late summer and fall find under conifers in the Rocky Mountains, and it has been reported from the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada. It has an olive brown, sticky cap, and a whitish cortina. It usually features a fairly well developed stem, but when it grows underground or partially submerged the stem may be rudimentary or nearly absent. The interior of the cap, when sliced open, features a mass of poorly formed, reddish brown gills.
Ecology: Mycorrhizal with conifers, especially firs (including subalpine fir) and Engelmann spruce; growing scattered or gregariously, often partially submerged in needle duff; summer and fall; common in the Rocky Mountains but occasionally reported from the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades (under firs).
Cap: 1-5 cm; convex or irregularly blockish; never opening to expose the interior; sticky or slimy; broadly wrinkled or more or less smooth; olive brown or brownish yellow.
Interior: Reddish brown; a mass of poorly formed "gills" and occasional air pockets.
Stem: Sometimes absent or rudimentary (especially in drier regions, where Cortinarius pingue grows partially submerged or nearly underground); 1-4 cm long; up to 2 cm thick; more or less equal; dry; whitish or pale brownish, but often with pinkish or lilac tones; when young with whitish cortina-like fibers that stretch to the edge of the cap.
Microscopic Features: Spores 12-17 x 8-10 µ; ellipsoid; moderately verrucose.
REFERENCES: (Zeller, 1941) Peintner, Moser & Vilgalys, 2002. (Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Evenson, 1997; Peintner, Moser & Vilgalys, 2002; Peintner, Moncalvo & Vilgalys, 2004; Trappe, Evans & Trappe, 2007.) Herb. Kuo 09010604.
Thaxterogaster pingue is a synonym. According to some sources, Cortinarius pinguis is the correct spelling.
Further Online Information:
Thaxterogaster pingue at Roger's Mushrooms
Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2006, September). Cortinarius pingue. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/cortinarius_pingue.html