Ramaria by Macroscopic Features

A Key to the Published Australian Species of Ramaria, based on Field Characters

10th April, 2014

Special Note: For newcomers, "aborted branches" are very short branches that appear on the stipe of the fruiting body, suggesting that an additional branch structure was about to grow at that location, but it "sort of never developed further". They can be found anywhere on the stipe right up to the point where the main branches diverge from the stipe apex. Quite often, the colour of the aborted branches below the substrate surface is white, but this changes to the colour of the branches and/or apices when the aborted branch is above the substrate surface. Some species have them abundantly, others occasionally, and some species never produce them.

1. Apices inflated and knob-like; may be sticky/viscid; either forming a series of "shelf-like" clusters of apices resembling broccoli florets, or a ±compact structure that has a closed surface like a cauliflower. 2
1.* Apices never inflated and knob-like and may be rounded, pointed, resemble the chewing surfaces of teeth, etc., never sticky/viscid and always with a more open and coralloid structure than as indicated above.
2. Fruiting body wholly cream-yellow to orange-yellow, usually with sticky/viscid apices at first and frequently with substrate debris adherent; apices arranged in distinct "shelf-like florets" similar to broccoli, crowded and may fuse to form a smooth surface; stipe, white, stout, and usually deeply rooting; aborted branches present. Ramaria capitata var. capitata
2.* Fruiting body with yellowish buff to orange (rarely reddish) apices; branches salmon pink to apricot pink (rarely reddish); viscidity absent or very transient; surface tightly closed; viewed from above, individual branches cannot be seen and the surface resembles a cauliflower; stipe white to buff and aborted branches are present.
Ramaria capitata var. ochraceosalmonicolor
3. Apices and branches wholly lavender to violet-purple; if the lower branch or stipe surface is removed, pure white flesh is exposed. Ramaria fennica var. fumigata
3.* Fruiting body without the above colours.
4. Apices white and acutely tapered to a fine point; branches pale pinkish buff to buff brown; at a short distance, fruiting body tufts appear ±white; in sheltered, deep litter and usually with abundant rhizomorphs (this is the only "white taxon" known for Australia so far). Ramaria filicicola
4.* Apices variously coloured; (if white, then the branches are not coloured as above); rhizomorphs may or may not be present; fruiting body displaying a range of colours, yellow, pink, orange or red or occasionally distinctly brown.
5. Fruiting bodies with apices and/or branches that are pink, wine-pink, pinkish-orange, bright orange or red.
5.* Fruiting bodies never displaying the above set of colours; either or both apices and branches displaying combinations of cream-colour, various shades of yellow, brown or (rarely) green tints or discolorations.
6. Juvenile fruting bodies with bright pink to red apices and contrasting whitish to pale pink branches; branches and apices elongate at maturity and become buff with pink tints; aborted branches present and white below the substrate and pinkish above; stipe flesh always white and without any gelatinous texture; (relatively common). Ramaria botrytoides
6.* Apices with bright red apices; branches white; not known to elongate at maturity; stipe flesh white and distinctly gelatinous in texture; aborted branches present and white below the substrate surface (Rare and known only from two Victorian locations; dried material retains strong indications of the original red colouration). Ramaria stuntzii var. gelatinosa
6.** Apices yellow and branches pinkish, or apices and (usually) branches wine pink to dark wine red.
7. Apices wine-pink to wine-brown but can become ±brownish at maturity; branches wine-pink and even more pinkish towards the apices; stipe ±white with possible yellow stains where bruised, usually stout and deeply rooting. Ramaria australiana
7.* Without any wine-pink colouration as above.
8. Apices yellow, yellow-orange or apricot yellow, acutely pointed; branches slender, smooth, salmon-pink to near pinkish-orange; aborted branches often present; no odour or taste has been recorded for this species. Ramaria anziana
8.* Apices similar to those above but branches wholly delicate pink and with easily observed grooved surfaces; aborted branches usually present; odour weakly fragrant; taste weakly bitter.
Ramaria samuelsii
9. Fruiting body very compact and displaying an overall colour of brown; apices always tapered to a point which is frequently acutely so, yellowish; branches brown, densely interwoven and tangled and often with apices emerging abruptly along their lengths so that they resemble rose thorns; flesh brown and gelatinous; stipe is brown and composed of a compressed fascicle of the lower branch sections; aborted branches abundant; rhizomorphs present. Ramaria gelatinosa var. oregonensis
9.* Not as above; if brown then the species does not display gelatinous flesh and the apices are always bluntly rounded.
10. Fruiting body mostly a shade of brown; apices tapering but always distinctly and bluntly rounded, whitish to pale ochre-brown and in subdued lighting may appear tinted greyish green; branches brown and on the side facing the interior of the fruiting body (adaxial) are often minutely felty; stipe robust, brown, rooting; flesh slowly staining reddish brown if cut; aborted branches and rhizomorphs absent. Ramaria zippelii
10.* Not as above and never with brown colourations.
11. Aborted branches absent; apices and branches wholly yellow (pale to bright yellow) but branches and stipe slowly stain brownish when bruised; apices always acute and may be simple, dichotomously branched or trichotomously branched; usually tufted and gregarious in litter; overall structure tends to be somewhat less than robust; branches vertical but individually display a curved, undulate or sinuate structure. Ramaria lorithamnus
11.* Aborted branches absent; apices dull yellow, tapered, acute, single, dichotomous or double dichotomous; branches brownish yellow to dull yellow and very disinctly vertically oriented so that they are parallel with each other; stipe emerges from a "mycelial mat" under the litter; rhizomorphs present. Ramaria ochracea
11.** Aborted branches absent; apices at first yellowish, tapered and acute, dichotomous or double dichotomous; branches olive to greenish olive; all parts of this species stain greenish when bruised and the fruiting bodies become ±greenish with age; rhizomorphs present; (rare and known only from three locations in SA and NSW; dried material retains the greenish tint). Ramaria abietina
11.*** Aborted branches present; fruiting bodies not displaying any of the above combinations.
12. Apices bright lemon-yellow, short, bluntly rounded and clustered so that they resemble the surfaces of chewing teeth; branches white, but tinted yellow near the apices; stipe white, solid, fibrous, never gelatinous; appears amongst deep litter and often remains semiburied; rhizomorphs absent or very poorly developed; (this species does vaguely resemble a loose and open cauliflower at the seeding stage, but it is never viscid, the apices are never swollen and knob-like and the coralloid structure is always clearly visible; known only from WA). Ramaria citrinocuspidata
12.* All parts of the fruiting body are straw-yellow to ochre-yellow; apices bluntly rounded and usually single or dichotomous, however the angle between the two apices is either at right angles or forms an obtuse angle, also some apices resemble deer-antlers or become digitate like the fingers of a hand, especially when first emerging from the substrate; stipe white to yellowish; appears on the surface of litter and forms coralloid clumps; (rare and known only from Victoria and NW Tasmania). Ramaria watlingii
12.** Fruiting bodies without the characteristics given above.
Note: the remaining three taxa are placed in what can best be called "a difficult cluster of yellow species". They are normally best separated on microcharacters, but do have some differing macrocharacters which may serve the same purpose if they can be observed. All three species were described by Petersen & Watling during the 1980s and all holotypes are in Edinburgh. Part of the problem is that as far as the author knows, there are no colour images of these taxa available. All three species have been erected on minimal collections; in one case a single collection, for the other two species, three collections at most. As far as the author is aware, all are only known from either or both Victoria or the ACT.
13. Stipe base coarsely hairy (strigose) to shortly hairy (tomentose); apices very finely divided and clustered, conical, pale straw yellow; branches pale cream-coloured. Ramaria pyrispora
13.* Stipe base either smooth or pruinose (powdery) at most.
14. Apices bright sulphur yellow, finely divided, acutely pointed and expanding at maturity into shapes resembling the palm and fingers of a hand; branches cream coloured to ivory; stipe white to off-white and normally stained plum-coloured or reddish. Ramaria xanthosperma var. australiana
14.* Apices pure yellow, tapered and rounded at the tips; branches wholly yellow; stipe white and smooth, without any reddish or plum-coloured stains.
Ramaria subtilis var. microspora

† These species have not yet been found in Queensland, but may be present.