This species has been often referred to as Piptoporus quercinus (Schrad.) P. Karst, but its correct placement should be in Buglossoporus, as it is not closely related to P. betulinus, type of Piptoporus, as shown by molecular data (Binder et al. 2013). Buglossoporus pulvinus is a polypore recognized by its fleshy and soft basidiomata, white to ochre pileus and inhabiting in large oak trees. It produces a brown rot.
Buglossoporus pulvinus (Piptoporus quercinus) is a well-known and conspicuous annual polypore associated with old large oak trees, causing brown rot. The primary causes of its decline are the scarceness of veteran oak trees, habitat fragmentation and suppression or death of host trees caused by densification of habitats due to change of land-use. It is red-listed in at least 8 countries: Denmark (EN), Czech Republic (VU), Germany (VU), Lithuania, Norway (EN, C2a(i)), Slovakia (EN), Spain, Sweden, (EN, C2a (i)), United Kingdom.
Preliminary global (and European) red-list assessment: C2a (i) (VU) due to less than 3500 mature individuals (i.e. max. 2500), much less than 500 localities on a global scale (350 estimated), and a habitat in marked decline in both area and habitat quality. No subpopulation consist of more than 500 mature individuals, real figure probably far less, normal situation is just a few infected host trees in each locality. Small subpopulations and more and more fragmented distribution make the species very susceptible for local extinctions due to generation-gap in suitable host trees.
The species is distributed in temperate decidious forests of Europe and West Asia (Palearctic region), strictly following the distribution of Quercus robur. It is rare throughout its distribution range. In Europe the countries with most reports are Sweden and the United Kingdom, probably due to the relatively high occurrences of large oak trees in these countries. The European (global?) stronghold for this species is definitely the former royal hunting forest in England (Windsor Crown Estate) where 100 oaks are known to be occupied by this fungus (since 1998). This is roughly half the total number recorded for the UK as a whole (since 1960).
Buglossoporus pulvinus is estimated to be present in ca. 350 localities in Europe (incl. estimated unrecorded localities). The number of individuals estimated to exist in Europe is c. 1800. Its potential distribution area is large, but the scarceness of ancient Quercus trees in semi-open situations is a limiting factor for its presence. As ancient oak woodlands have disappeared to large extent during the past 100 years, populations of B. pulvinus have decreased similarily. A cautious estimate of this habitat loss is 30-50% in a 100y perspective. Furthermore, the survivial of B. pulvinus in future is challenged by the scarcity and long time-scale of large ancient oak trees able to fill in the generation-gap of veteran trees.
Population Trend: Deteriorating
Piptoporus quercinus is associated with large old oak trees (Quercus robur), producing brown rot. It primarily occurs in relatively open habitats such as wood pastures, parklands and other mosaic decidious forests. Fruiting both on living trees and on logs and snags on dead wood some years after the death of the host. This species has been stated to live only in trees older than 250 years (Crockatt 2008), but it has been observed to colonize somewhat younger trees under special circumstances (i.e. in core populations when the host tree are damaged and surrounded by relatively large and thriving populations of the fungus).
The main threat of B. pulvinus are the rapid decrease of suitable host trees (Quercus robur) by forestry or changes in land management. Most of the still existing large oak tree areas in Europe have historically been used as grazed woodlands resulting in a semi-open environment. Death of large oak trees is accelerated by the decrease of grazing in pastoral landscapes and the consequent densification of forest ecosystems. In some areas cessation of pollarding could result in a more premature death of oak trees. Habitat fragmentation might well be an additional threat that is increasing. Small population size make the species very susceptible for random events and local extinctions due to generation-gap in suitable host trees.
Site protection and habitat management is urgently needed for localities. management plans must include proper clearing around veteran oaks harbouring B. pulvinus in order to keep the oaks lifespan as long as possible. In some cases, a periodical pollarding can ensure a longer life of oak trees. Fallen dead branches (often removed esp. in parks) should be left in situ to allow the fungus to fruit. Focusing on demography of oak population is very important, i.e. favouring younger oaks of different ageclasses as B. pulvinus requires a continuous supply of ancient host trees.
Find figures as to the habitat decline. Species proposed as redlisted earlier on the European level. Population genetic research across Europe is needed as a preliminary limited study (using somatic incompatibility testing in UK) suggested that many genets may be genetically rather similar to each other (historical bottleneck?).
Binder, M.; Justo, A.; Riley, R.; Salamov, A.; Lopez-Giraldez, F.; Sjökvist, E.; Copeland, A.; Foster, B.; Sun, H.; Larsson, E.; Larsson, K.-H.; Townsend, J.; Grigoriev, I.V. & Hibbett, D.S. 2013. Phylogenetic and phylogenomic overview of the Polyporales. Mycologia 105(6):1350-73.
Calonge, F.D.; García, A.; Sanz, M.; Bastardo, J. 2003. Buglossoporus quercinus (Basidiomycotina, Coriolaceae), nueva cita para España. Bol. Soc. Micol. Madrid 27: 33-35.
Crockatt, M. 2008. Ecology of the rare oak polypore Piptoporus quercinus
and the tooth fungi Hericium cirrhatum. H. coralloides. and H. erinaceus in the UK. Ph. D. dissertation. Proquest. LLC. University of Cardiff.
Sunhede, S. & Vasiliauskas, R. 2003. Hotade tickor på ek i Litauen. [Threatened polypores on oak in Lithuania.] – Svensk Bot. Tidskr. 97: 252–265. Uppsala. 0039-646X.