Hericium erinaceus ssp. erinaceo-abietis

Hericium erinaceus ssp. erinaceo-abietis

[This name appeared as Hericium erinaceum ssp. erinaceo-abietis.]

Quercus sp. Live tree. Burdsall et alia 1978 (Virginia, USA).

Burdsall’s reasoning:

1) “Hericium erinaceum has large ovoid basidiocarps with densely crowded pendent teeth up to 3 cm long and H. abietis basidiocarps are loosely organized systems of branches with less crowded pendent teeth. Hericium erinaceum subsp. erinaceo-abietis, on the other hand, is an irregularly shaped, solid, nodulose mass with small teeth (up to 3 mm long) covering the entire surface and protruding in all directions.”

2) “The basidiospores of H. abietis are 5-6 x 4-5 μm while those of H. erinaceum subsp. erinaceo-abietis are 6-7.5 x 4.5-6 μm.”

3) “The two also differ in structure of tooth trama.” 

4) “Hericium erinaceum subsp. erinaceo-abietis lacks the broad (up to 15 μm diam) thick-walled hyphae (walls up to 5 μm thick) which are found in H. erinaceum and the inflated cells (up to 15 μm diam) that have little wall thickening.” 

4) “In culture, H. erinaceum subsp. erinaceo-abietis grows about half as fast as H. erinaceum on malt extract agar at 25 C and about twice as fast at 32 C.” 

5) “The new subspecies and H. abietis grow equally well at 25 C on malt extract agar but H. abietis does not grow at 32 C while the new subspecies does.”

6) “The pairings between OKM 15159 single spore isolates and those of H. erinaceum [from Maryland (OKM 4950) and Arizona (JPL 317)] were totally compatible. Similar pairings between OKM 15159 single spore isolates and those from three different collections of H. abietis (a species found only in the northwestern U.S. and western Canada), however, showed partial, but not complete, compatibility as expressed by clamp connection formation.”

Maas Geestereanus’ comment concerning H. ptychogasteroides being the immature conidial state of erinaceus may be pertinent in regard to this? 

Yellowish is a normal aging color, becoming beige in its final stages of decline and collapse; orange to brown commonly occurs from oxidizing in old age or drying. Chocolate brown or grey indicates an unsuccessful battle with a contaminant. Pink or salmon are colorations that can occur under some conditions of warm temperatures or excess moisture. With sun, heat and dryness it can even become decidedly reddish. These are most often surface colors and reveal a white interior. 

Salmon, yellow, and pink can also occasionally be seen in young cultivated H. erinaceus and is not at all uncommon in young H. americanum. It is most often outgrown by the time that the teeth develop. Excess moisture stimulates its appearance in cultivation.

This color also can occur in the wild. For example the salmon-pink lion’s mane, probably also H. americanum, at Chris Mabberly’s website given as a coralloides.

It tends to be the most noticeable before the teeth have fully developed which not uncommonly looks very much like the photograph in Burdsall. Due to the coloration, the spore size and the growth form, Burdsall’s fungus was very likely an immature  americanum.

“In the late 1970’s a new taxon was described, i.e., Hericium erinaceum subsp. erinaceo abietis. This taxon differed from the typical H. erinaceum, e.g., by morphological traits of the fruitbody, spore size and mycelium growth rate. Studies showed that the described subspecies was a sterile hybrid between H. erinaceum and H. abietis [19].”

Sokół et al 2016.

It is worth questioning that conclusion. How such a mating of H. erinaceus with a species that is restricted to the Pacific North-West would have occurred in the first place has its own hurdles. The progeny then being found on a tree in Virginia?  It is worth looking closer.

Ginns appeared to add some support but he actually stopped two important steps short of actually evaluating the matter. His words on the matter are noteworthy: “Further, subsp. erinaceoabietis was compatible with H. abietis (No. 46) and H. erinaceus (No. 34) but was not tested against H. americanum or H. coralloides.” [Boldface added.]

It is this author’s suspicion that Ginns might have found compatibility had he tested it with americanum.

Most peculiar with regards to the claim of this being a hybrid is that Burdsall had actually dismissed that idea since he could not produce clamp formations with using single spore isolates of the two putative parent species. His comments: “The possibility that OKM 15159 was a hybrid of H. erinaceum x H. abietis was considered but in no case were clamp connections formed when single spore isolates of these two species were paired.” 

It is worth adding that IF H. erinaceum and H. abietis could be hybridized, the use of mating experiments for identifying the Hericium species would seem to be conceptually invalid.

There has been no confirmatory find reported.