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Veiled Panus - Tectella patellaris

Good evening, friends,


This week’s mushroom is the Veiled Panus (Tectella patellaris). Not only did I find this fungus on the same branch as the Steccherinum from last week, but I found them again today which makes for a very authentic Mushroom Monday. This alien-like decomposer is a bit of a mystery with little available information online, but hopefully if we start to search more for this cold weather fungus we can also learn more about them.


Tectella patellaris

Fun Facts


This mushroom is known for having some of the smallest spores in the fungal world. Coming in at a whopping 3.7 micrometers tall by 0.7 micrometers wide, they’re about one fifth the size of a human red blood cell (References 1 and 2). Young mushrooms have a partial veil (a thin membrane) that covers the gills and protects them while they develop. This veil breaks away when the mushroom is mature and ready to release spores.


This also looks like Porodisculus pendulus, the smallest known polypore, but the shape and color suggest a young T. patellaris in my opinion.
This also looks like Porodisculus pendulus, the smallest known polypore, but the shape and color suggest a young T. patellaris in my opinion.

These are diminutive mushrooms with caps that top out at 2 cm across. They do have a distinct, almost alien-like way they emerge from the wood that I find similar to the Birch Polypore (Fomitopsis betulina). They’re technically a pleurotoid fungus which means they are “oyster-like” (oyster mushrooms, not the aquatic oysters) and possess that kidney/ear shape.


Apparently you can also order a culture of the fungus from the ATCC (American Type Cultures Collection) for $5000 per vial. I couldn’t find the etymology of Tectella, but I could find that random, lucrative information. The species epithet Patellaris means “knee-cap shaped” in reference to their shape. We have now employed three different body parts (kidney, ear, and knee-cap) to describe the mushroom’s appearance.


Tectella patellaris

Ecology


The fungus is saprobic on dead wood. It’s unclear whether it has a penchant for hardwood or conifers (I imagine hardwoods), and I’ve only found it on black birch (Betula lenta). The fungus can be found in temperate forests of the northern hemisphere, from North America across Eurasia and into Korea. Look for these mushrooms after late autumn or winter rains as their iNaturalists observations peak September-January.


The older specimens I found today. The caps turned white with age (possibly from another fungus digesting them) and that was consistent in other older specimens I saw online.
The older specimens I found today. The caps turned white with age (possibly from another fungus digesting them) and that was consistent in other older specimens I saw online.

There are a few similar species you’ll find this time of the year. Panellus stipticus, the Luminescent Panellus, is similar but has a white pseudostipe at the base of the gills and is lighter in color (not just during the day either as these mushrooms glow in the dark). The aforementioned Porodisculus pendulus is also similar in shape, but releases their spores through pores while T. patellaris has gills. The caps of T. patellaris are brown and the gills are a tan/brown as well.


Bonus Woodcock


I saw an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) today. If you squint you can see the bird with the iconically long, conical bill just above my shadow in the below picture. The Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) also returned to the marsh up here last week. A nice week with the winged harbingers of spring.


American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

We get the quaddrenial (googled “term for something that happens every four years”) February 29th this Thursday,


Aubrey


References:

  1. Fischer MW, Stolze-Rybczynski JL, Cui Y, Money NP. How far and how fast can mushroom spores fly? Physical limits on ballistospore size and discharge distance in the Basidiomycota. Fungal Biol. 2010 Aug;114(8):669-75. doi: 10.1016/j.funbio.2010.06.002. PMID: 20835365; PMCID: PMC2936274.

  2. Diez-Silva M, Dao M, Han J, Lim CT, Suresh S. Shape and Biomechanical Characteristics of Human Red Blood Cells in Health and Disease. MRS Bull. 2010 May;35(5):382-388. doi: 10.1557/mrs2010.571. PMID: 21151848; PMCID: PMC2998922.

  3. Seok SJ, Jung YA, Jin YJ, Park IC, Kim WG, Kim YS, Yoo KH. Tectella patellaris from Korea. Mycobiology. 2011 Dec;39(4):303-5. doi: 10.5941/MYCO.2011.39.4.303. Epub 2011 Dec 7. PMID: 22783121; PMCID: PMC3385133.

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