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The Genus Gomphus
by Michael Kuo
Gomphus is an odd genus of funky-looking mushrooms that are vaguely reminiscent of chanterelles and were, until recently, treated alongside them in the Cantharellaceae family. The mushrooms are generally sturdy, fleshy, and vase-shaped, with wrinkled outer surfaces. They are more common in northern and montane forests, and most species are mycorrhizal partners with trees. Preliminary research (Giachini, 2004; link below) has indicated a potential relationship between the appearance of Gomphus fruiting bodies and the volume of woody debris present.
The traditional distinction between Gomphus and the chanterelles is that the former have large, coarse scales on the cap
Despite the fact that the mushrooms vaguely resemble chanterelles, recent DNA studies have consistently placed Gomphus with stinkhorns, clubs and corals, and earth stars, far from the chanterelles. For more information, see the page for the Phallales.
Very recent research by Admir Giachini (2004; link below) has combined DNA study with traditional morphology-based methods, with several important findings. First, DNA suggests that the genus Gomphus should be limited to three species centered around Gomphus clavatus (which is the only one of the three occurring in North America). Second, the species centered around "Gomphus floccosus" should probably be treated in a separate genus; Giachini proposes an older genus name, Turbinellus. Third, many of the floccosus-like "species" are so genetically similar that they probably do not deserve separate species status (see the key below). Fourth, the floccosus-like and clavatus-like groups are distant enough, genetically, that several species of Ramaria (see Clubs and Corals) are grouped between them, indicating a clear separation. Last (for our purposes here, anyway), some species currently treated in Gomphus are even more distantly related, and belong in the little-known genus Gloeocantharellus (see the key below).
Key to 7 Gomphus Taxa in North America
Sources for Gomphus
Arora, D. (1986). Mushrooms demystified: A comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. 959 pp.
Bigelow, H. E. (1978). Cantharelloid fungi of New England and adjacent areas. Mycologia 70: 707-756.
Corner, E. J. H. (1966). A monograph of cantharelloid fungi. Oxford: Oxford UP. 255 pp.
Giachini, A. J. (2004). Systematics, phylogeny, and ecology of Gomphus sensu lato. Doctoral dissertation, Oregon State University. Available online here.
Persson, O. (1997). The chanterelle book. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. 120 pp.
Pilz, D., L. Norvell, E. Dannell & R. Molina. (2003). Ecology and management of commercially harvested chanterelle mushrooms. Portland, Oregon: USDA General Technical Report. 83 pp. Available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/gtr576.pdf
Pine, E. M. et al. (1999). Phylogenetic relationships of cantharelloid and clavarioid Homobasidiomycetes based on mitochondrial and nuclear rDNA sequences. Mycologia 91: 944-963.
Smith, A. H. (1968). The Cantharellaceae of Michigan. Michigan Botanist 7: 143-183.
Smith, A. H., Smith, H. V. & Weber, N. S. (1981). How to know the non-gilled mushrooms. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown. 324 pp.
Thiers, H. D. (1985). The Agaricales of California. 2. Cantharellaceae. Eureka, CA: Mad River Press. 34 pp.
Cite This Page As:
Kuo, M. (2006, February). The genus Gomphus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/gomphus.html