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[ Basidiomycota > Agaricales > Tubariaceae . . . ]

The Genus Tubaria  

by Michael Kuo, 8 May 2023

Go ahead. Think of something interesting and witty to say about the genus Tubaria. I'll wait.

. . .

Yeah; that's what I thought. I flirted with "tube area" for a while and got nowhere. "Kyle O. Cystidia" was a non-starter. The truth is, tubarias are boring unless you're fond of microscopy—and even then, well, let's just say it's a challenge to stay focused.

Among the hordes of LBMs (Little Brown Mushrooms) out there, species of Tubaria can be recognized by their microscopic features: the spores are smooth or nearly so, pale brown, and lack a germ pore (additionally they often collapse in KOH and Melzer's); the cheilocystidia are prominent and thin-walled; and the pileipellis is a cutis. Macroscopically the mushrooms are fairly small, the gills are broadly attached to the stem or begin to run down it, and there is often evidence of a partial veil on the cap or stem. However, these macroscopic features apply to many other genera as well, so microscopic examination is usually required even for identification to genus.

Because no one cares about tubarias, they are poorly documented in North America, outside of the "field guide species," Tubaria confragosa and Tubaria furfuracea. Type collections of putative North American Tubaria species go unstudied. Online records are identified without reference to microscopic features, let alone DNA sequencing. Thus the portrait "Tubaria in North America" is more of an Impressionist work than an example of Photographic Realism.

Features used in Tubaria identification include mushroom size, colors, and disposition of veil remnants—as well as microscopic features (especially the morphology of cheilocystidia and spores). I recommend you try identifying tubarias with robust collections of several to many mushrooms, representing various stages of development, all collected in the same location.


Tubaria praestans

Tubaria furfuracea
Spore print

Tubaria furfuracea

Key to 9 Tubaria Species in North America  

1.Stem with a well-developed, membranous ring.
Tubaria confragosa

1.Stem without a ring or, at most, with a fibrillose ring zone.

2.Fresh cap red to brownish red or purplish red; found only on the West Coast.

2.Fresh cap a shade of brown; distribution varying.

3.Found on the decaying wood of madrone, in woods.
Tubaria punicea

3.Found on woodchips and disturbed ground in urban areas.
Tubaria vinicolor

4.Cap with a notable central depression throughout development; gills running down the stem; cheilocystidia small and clavate; spores very finely ornamented (visible with SEM and sometimes with very good oil immersion).
Tubaria decurrens

4.Cap convex to flat (rarely, in age, with a very shallow central depression); gills broadly attached or only slightly running down the stem; cheilocystidia varying; spores varying.

5.Fresh gills dull yellow; cap 2 cm across or smaller; usually associated with debris of hawthorns, serviceberries, or fruit trees in the Rosaceae.

5.Gills brownish; cap size varying; not usually associated with Rosaceae litter.

6.Spores 4.5–6.5 µm long; mature cap usually less than 1 cm across; mature stem up to 1 mm thick.
Tubaria minutalis

6.Spores 6.5–10 µm long; mature cap usually larger than 1 cm; mature stem 1–5 mm thick.

7.Frequently (but not exclusively) appearing in winter and spring; cheilocystidia generally capitate; veil remnants on cap, when present, usually appearing toward the margin; stem naked or with a slight zone of fibrils.

7.Usually appearing in summer and fall; cheilocystidia cylindric to clavate or lageniform; veil remnants on cap when present covering entire surface; stem fibrillose to felty.

8.Spores ellipsoid; cheilocystidia widely clavate to sphaeropedunculate; cap brown.

8.Spores amygdaliform to lemon-shaped; cheilocystidia lageniform; cap pale brownish to buff.
Tubaria conspersa


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Kuo, M. (2023, May). The genus Tubaria. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

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