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Volume 81, 1953
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Thelephoraceae of New Zealand. Part II: The genus Pellicularia.

[Read before the Auckland Institute and Museum, July 16, 1952; received by the Editor, March 2, 1953.]


The fungous genus Pellicularia is described and its taxonomic position defined. It is regarded as the most primitive of seven genera placed in the tribe Corticeae of the Thelephoraceae.

Six species have been recognized—namely, P. subcoronata, P. vaga, P. filamentosa, P. zealandica, P. otagensis and P. scabrida. The three last are regarded as new species.


Pellicularia is the most primitive of seven genera included in the tribe Corticeae of the sub-family Thelephoroideae. It differs from others included under this tribe in that a well-defined palisade hymenium is not developed, basidia arising singly or in clusters from branches of the repent context hyphae. The surface of the hymenophore is tufted in several species, each tuft representing a botryose cluster of basidia and paraphyses attached to a main branch or branchlet (Text-Fig. 3, Fig. 2). Basidia, instead of carrying four spores as in most members of the family, may bear 4, 6, or 8 spores on sterigmata of varied length. In P. fila-mentosa sterigmata are a striking feature of the species; at first short and stout, they later become greatly elongated though spores do not develop until a length of 10-15μ has been attained. Basidia collapse as soon as spores reach maturity. Spores often remain permanently attached by their sterigmata to collapsed basidia, as may be seen in sections of the hymenial layer of P. vaga, P. subcoronata and P. scabrida. In such species it is difficult to find developing basidia save near the growing periphery.

Early workers placed species under Corticium or Hypochnus (= Tomen-tella). Donk (Med. Nederl. Mycol. Vereenig., 18-20, 116, 1931) segregated them under Botryobasidium, a small natural group characterized by the features mentioned above. Subsequently Rogers (Farlowia, 1, 95-118, 1943) showed that a previous name, Pellicularia, had been employed by Cooke for one species, P. kole-roga; consequently, this name should supercede that used by Donk.

I am indebted to Miss Beryl Hooton, Librarian, for Latin descriptions of three species.

Pellicularia Cooke, Grevillea, 4, 116, 1876.

  • Botryobasidium Donk, Med. Nederl. Mycol. Vereenig., 18-20, 116, 1931.

  • Botryohypochnus Donk, l.c., p. 118.

Hymenophore resupinate, annual or sometimes reviving a second season, arachnoid or mucedinoid, composed of large diameter repent hyphae from which arise branched vertical hyphae bearing basidia and paraphyses on lateral or terminal branchlets; hyphal system monomitic, generative hyphae hyaline or tinted in a few basal hyphae, septate, branched, with or without clamp connections. Hymenial layer composed of irregular groups or botryose clusters of basidia and paraphyses; basidia subclavate, cylindrical or ventricose-inflated, bearing 4, 6,

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or 8 spores on short or long sterigmata. Septate or aseptate cysticlia present in a few species. Spores smooth or echinulate, hyaline, continuous.

Type Species. Pellicularia koleroga Cke.

Distribution. Probably world-wide.

Key To Species
Clamp connections present. Cystidia present, septate, coated with irregulai mucilaginous warts
1. P. zealandica G. H. Cunn. Cystidia absent.
Spores nairowly fusiform or uaviculai; basidia bearing 6-8 spores 2. P. subcoronata (H. & L.) Rogets
Spores broadly obovate or subpyriform. with an apiculus; basidia bearing 4-6 spores 3. P. otagensis G. H. Cunn.
Clamp connections absent. Saprophytic: growing upon the suiface of dead wood.
Hyphae exteriorly scabrid; basidia bearing—6 navicular or fusiform spores 4. P. scabrida G. H. Cunn.
Hyphae exteriorly naked; basidia bearing 6-8 navicular or fusiform spores 5. P. vaga (B. & C.) Rogers
Parasitic upon living plants; basidia bearing 4 elliptical spoies 6. P. filamentosa (Pat.) Rogers

1. Pellicularia zealandica n.sp. (Text-Fig. 1., figs. 1, 2.)

Hymenophornm mncidum, saepe pilosum, effusum, superficie sulphurea vel pallide crocea, cristata. Hyphae nodulosae, ad 8μ diam., pariete 1μ crasso, levi. Basidia subclavata, 8–33 × 4–12μ. 4 sporas in sterigmatis 2–4μ longis gerentia. Cystidia septata, nodulosa. 180–470 × 8–10μ, pariete 1μ crasso, verrucis inaequalibus et mucosis. Sporae late ellipticae, raro apiculatae, 5.5–7 × 4–4.5μ, leves, hyalinae.

Hymenophore annual or sometimes reviving a second season, somewhat separable when mature, mucedinoid-tomentose, often pilose, effused forming irregular areas to 7 cm. across; surface sulphur-yellow or pallid saffron, velutmate and tufted; margin thinning out, arachnoid, concolorous, loosely attached. Context composed of several repent hyphae to 8μ diameter, wall 1μ thick, branched at a wide angle, septate, with clamp connections, fertile hyphae vertically arranged, branched dichotomously, bearing basidia and paraphyses singly on terminal branchlets, collapsing. Basidia subclavate, seldom cylindrical. 8-13 × 4-12μ. bearing 4 spores on sterigmata 2-4μ. long. Septocystidia arising from both repent hyphae and fertile hyphae, 180-470μ long, 8-10μ diameter, with clamp connections at septa, wall 1μ thick, save near apex where 0.25μ, apex bluntly rounded, upper part coated with irregular tinted mucilaginous warts. Spores broadly elliptical, occasionally apiculate, 5.5-7 × 4-4.5μ, smooth, hyaline.

Distribution New Zealand.

Habitat. Effused on bark of dead branches.

Podocarpus spicafus R.Br. Auckland. Te Whaiti, 2,000ft., June, 1951, J. M. Dingley, type collection, P.D.D. herbarium No. 11449.

Specific features are the saffron or sulphur colour of the hymenophore, long septate cystidia coated exteriorly with an irregular, broken, gelatinous tunic, basidia bearing 4 spores on short sterigmata and small broadly elliptical spores In the specimens at band part of the hymenophore had grown over a previous

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Picture icon

Text-Fig. I.
Fig. 1.—Section through the hymenophore of Pellicularia zealandica. × 750.
Fig. 2.—Spores of Pellicularia zealandica. Fig. 3.—Spores of Pellicularia filamentosa. Fig. 4.—Spores of Pellicularia scabrida. Fig. 5.—Spores of Pellicularia vaga. Fig. 6.—Spores of Pellicularia subcoronata. Fig. 7.—Spores of Pellicularia otagensis. All × 1000. Original

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layer, so possibly the species is biennial. Fertile hyphae are large and soon collapse, so that it is difficult to ascertain their arrangement. Branching is dichotomous, basidia being carried singly near ends of the branchlets.

2. Pellicularia subcoronata (Hoehnel & Litschauer) Rogers, Farlowia, 1, 104, 1943. (Text-Fig. 1, Fig. 6; Text-Fig. 2, Fig. 1.)

  • Corticium subcoronatum Hoehn. & Litsch., Sitz. d. kaiserl Akad. d. Wissenschaft., Wien, 116, 822, 1907.

  • Botryobasidium subcoronatum (H. & L.) Donk, Nedrl. Myc. Vereenig., 18–20, 117, 1931.

Hymenophore annual, not readily lifting, arachnoid-mucedinoid, forming irregular areas to 20 × 5 cm.; surface cream to pallid ochre, tufted; margin thinning out, arachnoid, concolorous, moderately adnate. Context composed of a few basal repent hyphae 6–8μ diameter, wall 0.25–0.5μ thick, branched, septate, with clamp connections, fertile hyphae vertically arranged, bearing lateral branches in botryose or coralloid clusters forming a dense intertwined zone near the surface. Basidia developing at ends of lateral branchlets singly or groups of 2–4, subclavate, a few cylindrical, 8–12 × 5–7μ bearing 6, sometimes 8 spores on short sterigmata 2–4μ long. Cystidia absent. Spores narrowly fusiform, navicular, with bluntly acuminate ends, a few ovate, apiculate, 6–8 × 2.5–3.5μ, smooth, hyaline.

Type Locality. Berlin, Germany.

Distribution. Europe; North America; New Zealand.

Habitat. Effused on decaying bark or decorticated wood.

Coriaria arborea Linds. Auckland. Rangitoto Island, July, 1950, J. M. Dingley.

Pittosporum tenuifolium Banks & Sol. Auckland. Glen Esk Valley, Piha, May, 1951, J. M. Dingley.

Collections agree with part of the type of Corticium subcoronatum seen in Kew herbarium, differing mainly in the smaller, more subclavate basidia, a feature which alone cannot be regarded as of specific import. The species is separated from others possessing clamp connections by the small fusiform or navicular spores. Branchlets are arranged irregularly, some in coralloid groups, others in cymes. Though basidia collapse early the spores long remain attached by the sterigmata. Oil globules are numerous in repent hyphae and main branches of the fertile hyphae.

3. Pellicularia otagensis n.sp. (Text-Fig. 1, Fig. 7; Text-Fig. 2, Fig. 2.)

Hymenophorum arachnoideum-mucidum, aequum, effusum, superficie alba, leviter cristata. Hyphae nodulosae, ad 7μ diam., pariete 0.25μ crasso, levi. Basidia ventricosa cylindricalia, 16–24 × 5–7μ, 4–6 sporas in sterigmatis ad 10μ longis gerentia. Cystidia absentia. Sporae pyriformes, apiculatae, 5–7 × 3.5 –4.5μ, leves, hyalinae.

Hymenophore annual, loosely attached, readily lifting, arachnoid-mucedinoid, forming small, irregular areas to 4 cm. long; surface white, drying white, slightly tufted; margin thinning out, white, loosely attached, arachnoid. Context composed of a few repent hyphae to 7μ diameter, wall 0.25μ thick, branched, septate, with large clamp connections, fertile hyphae vertically arranged, sparsely branched, bearing branchlets in cymes upon ends of which are carried basidia and paraphyses. Basidia ventricose-cylindrical, 16–24 × 5–7μ, bearing 4–6, sometimes

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Picture icon

Text-Fig. II.
Fig. 1.—Section through the hymenophoie of Pellicularia subcoronta. Fig. 2.—Section through the hymenophore of Pellicularia otagensis. × 750. Original.

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8 spores on sterigmata to 10μ long. Spores pyriform or obovate, apiculate, 5-7 × 3.5-4.5μ, smooth, hyaline.

Distbibution. New Zealand.

Habitat. Effused on decorticated decaying wood.

Unkonow Host. Otago. Morrison's Creek, Dunedin, 500ft., June, 1952, G. T. S. Baylis, type collection, P.D.D. herbarium No. 11581.

From others with clamp connections the species is separated readily by the large ventricose-cylindrieal basidia and small pyriform spores. The hymenophore is delicate, snow white, loosely attached, and hyphae possess such delicate walls that they collapse readily. As they do not stain with aniline blue, their structure is difficult to interpret. Large and conspicuous clamp connections are present at all septa, and the repent hyphae branch at a wide angle.

4. Pellicularia scabrida n.sp. (Text-Fig. 1, Fig. 4; Text-Fig. 3, Fig. 1.)

Hymenophorum mucidum, aequum, effusum, superficie cremea, siccitate pallide ochracea. Hyphae enodulosae, ad 16μ diam.; pariete 0.5–1μ erasso, exteriore scabro. Basidia cylindricalia vel subclavata, 16–22 × 6–9μ, 4–6 sporas in sterigmatis 3–4μ longis gerentia. Cystidia absentia. Sporae fusifomes vel naviculiformes, apiculatae, 8–11 × 3.5–4.5μ, leves, hyalinae.

Hymenophore annual, loosely attached, lifting, arachnoid-mucedinoid, forming linear areas to 24 × 3 cm.; surface cream, drying pallid ochre, even; margin thinning out, cream, arachnoid. Context composed of a few large repent hyphae to 16μ diameter, wall 0.5-1μ thick, delicately and finely verruculose-scabrid, sparsely branched, septate, without clamp connections, fertile hyphae vertical, bearing one to three whorls of branchlets carrying basidia and paraphyses. Basidia cylindrical or subclavate, 16-22 × 6-9μ, bearing 4-6 spores on short sterigmata 3-4μ long. Spores fusiform or navicular, ends usually bluntly acuminate, apiculate, 8-11 × 3.5-4.5μ, smooth, hyaline.

Distribution. New Zealand.

Habitat. Effused on bark or decorticated decaying wood.

Edwardsia microphylla (Ait.) Salisb. Auckland. Henderson, March, 1952, S. Baker.

Nothopanax arboreum (Forst. f.) Seem. Taranaki. Mt. Egmont, 4,500ft., February, 1952, G. H. C., type collection, P.D.D. herbarium, No. 11296.

Of the species without clamp connections this may be identified readily by the large diameter repent hyphae, walls of which and of the fertile branches are covered with closely arranged verrucae, appearing scabrid. Basidia are carried on short branchlets arranged in whorls on main vertical branches. Basidia usually bear six spores, though a few carry four.

5. Pellicularia vaga (Berkeley & Curtis) Rogers, ex Linder in Lloydia, 5, 170, 1942. (Text-fig. 1, fig. 5.)

  • Corticium vagum Berk. & Curt., Grevillea, 1, 179, 1873.

  • Botryobasidium vagum (B. & C.) Rogers, Univ. Iowa St., N.H., It, 17, 1935.

Hymenophore annual, readily removed as a thin sheet, arachnoid-mucedinoid, forming irregular linear areas to 20 × 4 cm.; surface cream or pallid ochre, even; margin thinning out, concolorous, arachnoid. Context composed of a few repent hyphae 8-10μ diameter, wall to 1μ thick, sparsely branched, septate, without clamp connections, fertile hyphae vertical, mainly arranged in eymes, bearing terminal clusters of basidia and paraphyses. Basidia cylindrical or subclavate,

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Picture icon

Text-Fig III.
Fig. 1.—Section through the hymenophore of Pellicularia scabrida. Section was taken from the periphery to show method of branching of the fertile hyphae. Fig. 2.—Section through the hymenophoie of Pellicularia filamentosa. Both × 600. Original,

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12–16 × 8–11μ, bearing 6 occasionally 8 spores on sterigmata 2–4μ long. Spores irregularly fusiform or navicular, apex bluntly acuminate, sometimes rounded, base attenuate and apiculate, 7–10 × 3–4μ, smooth, hyaline.

Type Locality. South Carolina, U.S.A.

Distribution. North and South America; Europe; New Zealand.

Habitat. Effused on bark of decorticated wood.

Nothofagus Fusca (Hook. f.) Oerst. Westland. Reefton, 2,000ft., December, 1952, S. D. Baker.

Oxylobium sp. Auckland. Campbell's Bay, 200ft., November, 1952, E. E. Chamberlain.

Pinus radiata Don. Auckland. Waiotapu, June, 1950, J. M. Dingley.

Collections listed agree with part of the type of Corticium vagum seen in Kew herbarium. The species may be separated from P. scabrida by the narrower, smooth-walled repent hyphae and different type of branching; and from P. filamentosa by the differently shaped spores and habitat.

6. Pellicularia filamentosa (Patouillard) Rogers, Farlowia, 1, 113, 1943. (Text-fig. 1, fig. 3; Text-fig. 3, fig. 2.)

  • Rhizoctonia solani Kuehn, Frankh. Kulturgew., 224, 1858.

  • Hypochnus filamentosus Pat., Bull. Soc. Myc. Fr., 7, 163, 1891.

  • H. solani Prill. & Del., l.c., p. 220.

  • Corticium vagum var. solani Burt, ex Rolfs, Science, N.S., 18, 729, 1903.

  • C. solani (P. & D.) Bourd. & Gala., Bull. Soc. Myc. Fr., 27, 248, 1911.

  • Rhizoctonia microsclerotia Matz, Phytopath., 7, 116, 1917.

  • Corticium praticola Kotila, Phytopath., 19, p. 1065, 1929.

  • C. areolatum Stahel., Phytopath., 30, 129, 1940.

Hymenophore annual, adnate, readily lifting, effused over stems of living plants, arachnoid-mucedinoid, forming irregular linear areas to 15 cm. long, 2-10 mm. wide; surface white, drying cream or greyish, irregularly slightly tufted; margin thinning out, concolorous, arachnoid. Context white, composed of a few repent hyphae 8-10μ diameter, commonly 7-8μ, wall to 0.5μ thick, sparsely branched, sparsely septate, without clamp connections, fertile hyphae vertical, cymose, ends of branchlets bearing clusters of basidia and paraphyses. Basidia snbclavate, some cylindrical, 12-18 × 8-10μ, bearing 3-4 spores on long sterigmata which may attain a length of 15μ. Spores elliptical or oblong, some obovate, apiculate, 7-11 × 5-6.5μ, smooth, hyaline.

Type Locauty. Ecuador, South America.

Distribution. Probably world-wide.

Habitat. Effused on stems and leaves of living plants.

Solanum Tuberosum L. Auckland. Mt. Albert. Plant Diseases Division Area, December, 1949, H. C. Smith.

Recognized by the elliptical spores and long sterigmata which, at first stout and short, elongate to their full length shortly before spores are formed. Not infrequently one sterigma is suppressed, basidia then bearing three spores.

Though the Pellicularia stage is comparatively rare, the species in the hyphal stage is a well-known parasite of potatoes and certain other plants. On potato tubers the fungus forms black sclerotia, for long this hyphal stage being known as Rhizoctonia solani. On some lawn grasses the fungus produces the disease known as brown-patch. To this strain Kotila gave the name of Corticium praticola, but there is no evidence to show it differs specifically from P. filamentosa.