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Phyllotopsis nidulans

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Tricholomataceae > Phyllotopsis . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This beautiful mushroom, sometimes called the "Mock Oyster" in field guides, isn't likely to be confused with the "true" Oyster Mushroom, which is not orange. Phyllotopsis nidulans is orange from head to toe, and densely hairy on the cap surface. It is widely distributed in North America, and often grows in shelf-like clusters on dead hardwoods and conifers in the fall.

A "mating" study (Petersen & McCleneghan, 1997) demonstrated that specimens of Phyllotopsis nidulans from Alaska to Costa Rica were compatible--a somewhat surprising result, given the great distance involved. It is often the case that mushroom species are unable to "mate" when geographical barriers separate them. But North American versions of Phyllotopsis nidulans appear to constitute the same species, using the Biological Species Concept (the concept used to define species of large animals, for example; if they can mate and produce offspring, they are the same).

Phyllotopsis nidulans is said by most authors to have a foul odor, at least when it is growing on hardwoods. My collections, on red pine and on willow, have been odorless.


Ecology: Saprobic on the dead wood of hardwoods and conifers; growing alone or in overlapping clusters; fall (fall and winter in California); widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 2-8 cm across; more or less fan-shaped; flattened-convex; dry; prominently hairy; sometimes with a whitish coating at first, but soon bright orange, fading to yellowish orange; the margin inrolled when young.

Gills: Close; bright to pale orange.

Stem: Absent or poorly developed and lateral.

Flesh: Pale orange; soft.

Odor and Taste: Taste mild or foul; odor strong and foul (at least when fruiting on hardwoods)--or mild.

Chemical Reactions: KOH on cap surface negative.

Spore Print: Very pale pink to pinkish brown.

Microscopic Features: Spores 5-8 x 2-4 µ; smooth; inamyloid; long-elliptical.

Cited above: Petersen, R. H. & McCleneghan, S. C. (1997). Reports on long-distance sexual compatibility in Agaricales. Nordic Journal of Botany 17: 419-432.

REFERENCES: (Persoon, 1798) Singer, 1936. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1887; Smith, 1975; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Arora, 1986; States, 1990; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Evenson, 1997; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Binion et al., 2008.) Herb. Kuo 10160409, 10310404.

Taxonomy in Transition: Pleurocybella?  Typhula?  Phyllotopsis

In what must be just about the most bizarre finding of contemporary DNA research into mushrooms, Moncalvo et al. (2002) report that Phyllotopsis nidulans belongs in a genetic group that also contains Pleurocybella porrigens and Typhula phacorrhiza. The former is another stemless, wood-rotting, gilled mushroom--but the latter is a tiny, hair-like, terrestrial club fungus. The authors were as surprised as anyone else: "Relationships between taxa of this clade have not been previously suspected, and we are still unaware of any morphological or anatomical character that could unify them" (376). The authors name the clade Phyllotopsis, presumably because this name is the oldest among the three generic names.

Further Online Information:

Phyllotopsis nidulans at MykoWeb
Phyllotopsis nidulans at Macrofungi of Costa Rica


Phyllotopsis nidulans

Phyllotopsis nidulans

Phyllotopsis nidulans

Phyllotopsis nidulans

Phyllotopsis nidulans

Phyllotopsis nidulans

Phyllotopsis nidulans

Phyllotopsis nidulans

Phyllotopsis nidulans
Spore print

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2004, December). Phyllotopsis nidulans. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: