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Clavaria fumosa

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Clavariaceae > Clavaria . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Clavaria fumosa is an off-white, grayish, dirty yellowish, or dirty pinkish club fungus that grows in dense clusters on the ground, turns green when iron salts are applied to its surfaces, turns dark reddish brown when dried for the herbarium, and has the microscopic features listed in the description below. Clavaria vermicularis, in contrast, is bright white, does not change color with iron salts, and turns dirty brownish yellow ("ochraceous") when dried--though it does grow in dense clusters and its microscopic features are virtually identical.

My definition of Clavaria fumosa includes what is sometimes called "Clavaria rubicundula." The latter was originally described from Michigan as "uniformly creamy buff" by Leathers (1956), who cited color code descriptions involving pinkish tones--presumably differing from a yellowish-grayish Clavaria fumosa. But the two species are otherwise inseparable, and I invite you to take a trip through North American field guide treatments of the two species, comparing the descriptions to the photos and to treatments in other guides. The names are applied inconsistently, yellowish-grayish mushrooms are described as pinkish-grayish (and vice-versa)--and to make your journey even more entertaining, cruise the Internet or the library for European descriptions and photos of Clavaria fumosa, which was originally described from France, to view the wide variety of pinks and yellows that the Clavaria fumosa umbrella covers for those wacky mushroomers across the pond.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing in dense clusters; usually found in woods, frequently in the presence of grass or moss; summer and fall; northeastern North America, the Great Lakes region, and the southern Appalachians.

Fruiting Body: 2-14 cm high; 2-5 mm wide; more or less cylindrical, with a tapered base; only rarely branched, near the tip; sometimes flattened or grooved; smooth; dry or moist; fairly brittle; the tip bluntly pointed; grayish, off-white, dirty yellowish, or dirty pinkish, with a whiter base; the tip becoming dark reddish brown to black with age.

Flesh: Colored like the surface; insubstantial.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Spore Print: White.

Chemical Reactions: Irons salts green on surfaces.

Microscopic Features: Spores 5-8 x 3-4 µ; ellipsoid to pip-shaped; smooth; with a small apiculus. Basidia subclavate; 30-50 x 6-8 µ; 4-sterigmate; not basally clamped. Clamp connections absent; hyphae often constricted at the septa.

REFERENCES: Persoon, 1796. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1888; Coker, 1923; Corner, 1950; Leathers, 1956; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 05300406.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Clavaria fumosa

Clavaria fumosa

Clavaria fumosa

Illustrations from Coker (1923), courtesy of the University of North Carolina Press:

Clavulina cristata

Clavulina cristata

Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2007, April). Clavaria fumosa. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

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