Some synonyms (as classified by Species Fungorum):
Hydnum coralloides Scop. (1772)
Hericium ramosum (Bull.) Letell. (1826)
Medusina coralloides (Scop.) Chevall. (1826)
Merisma coralloides (Scop.) Spreng. (1827)
Friesites coralloides (Scop.) P. Karst. (1879)
Dryodon coralloides (Scop.) P. Karst. (1881)
Manina coralloides (Scop.) Banker (1912)
Preliminary global red-list assessment: LC (Least Concern).
This mainly beech wood-inhabiting species is widely distributed and also occurring at more trivial conditions and not estimated to have a habitat that is or will be declining with more than 30% during 30 years (the recommended time for evaluation of wood-inhabiting species in beech recommended by Dahlberg & Mueller, 2011).
Original motivation: Infrequent establishment and low germination of basidiospores (ca. 1% in laboratory incubation) may be the causes of apparent rarity in Europe.
Reduced amount of appropriate habitats (natural beech forests). Beech prefers sites favorable for agriculture and subsequently large areas of beech forest have been cleared for agricultural production. As a result, a large proportion of beech genetic diversity has probably been destroyed. This land clearing has also fragmented the remaining stands. In some regions the reduction in beech populations has been dramatic.
Some beech stands may be at risk from climate change, particularly those in the lowlands where precipitation is expected to decrease and summer temperatures to increase.
Furthermore, most of the existing beech forests are managed forests, which characterizes with much lower level of death wood amount (below 10m3/ha) than natural beech forests (above 100m3/ha).
H. coralloides fruit bodies are large (up to 400mm in diameter), easy to notice and recognize, they are said to be one of the most beautiful fruit bodies. Therefore it is potentially an umbrella species (for a range of species, smaller and overlooked, but also connected to natural beech forests with supplies of large diameter death wood).
Europe, North America and Asia (according to some mycologists, Hericium coralloides is strictly European species).
Increases of recorded localities probably do not reflect increases in population size. Instead, they serve to highlight the tremendous increases in local recording group activity, database usage, networking and publicity.
Their fruit bodies are hard to miss, so fruit bodies are probably not under recorded.
Population Trend: Decreasing
Coral Tooth H. coralloides is only found in old, mature beech forests with a long history of continuous tree cover, retained dead wood and a range of tree age classes.
Nutritional mode - wood saprotroph.
Type of wood decay - white rot.
Common host - Fagus sylvatica (ca. 90%),
it also occurs on Fraxinus excelsior, Quercus spp. and the wood of other deciduous trees.
Location of fruit bodies on wood – mostly on fallen trunks and larger branches also occurs on standing dead trunks.
Duration of fruiting condition - up to ca. 5 years.
Germination in agar culture – low.
Mycelial extension on agar combative ability - better than heart-rotters, similar to primary colonizers.
Tend to fruit between Aug. and Dec.
H. coralloides seems to fruit quite regularly on a tree but for few seasons (ca. 5 years).
The fruit bodies of H. coralloides usually signify a relatively advanced state of underlying decay.
Detected as latently present in functional sapwood.
The species appear to be no different from the majority of wood-decay basidiomycetes wherein most spores fall within 1m of the parent fruit body, with very few travelling further than 100m and only occasionally reaching 1000 km.
The cardinal points for temperature are similar to those of other wood-decay basidiomycetes, with an optimum temperature for radial extension at +25 ºC (3.3 to 6.7 mm per day) with slow growth at +5 ºC and +10 ºC and no growth at +35 ºC.
Optimum pH for radial extension of heterokaryons of H. coralloides was pH 5.5 (7.5 to 8.7 mm per day), with no growth at pH 2 nor pH 8. This correlates with the pH of beech wood, which is around pH 5.
Lowest water potential for growth: < - 5 MPa.
Reduction and fragmentation of appropriate habitats (natural beech forests).
Simplification of the structure of potential habitats (e.g. reduction of the amount of large diameter death wood).
Edibility and hence harvesting of the fruit bodies.
Management of the species must largely depend on conservation of trees and sites currently known to harbor fruiting individuals and, in the longer term, ensuring continuity of tree species and conditions which favor fruiting, spore production and subsequent colonization.
It is essential to leave as much large diameter dead wood in situ as possible.
Determining numbers of genets per tree. This is the highest priority, as this will improve the species status assessments (Red List category).
H. coralloides frequently fruit in axenic culture, perhaps indicating that lack of fruit bodies in the field truly indicates lack of mycelial individuals, although it may be that natural fruiting is impeded by encapsulation within central woody tissues.
The duration of the homokaryotic phase is unknown but may be prolonged due to low frequency of contact between mating compatible partners in natural substrata.
Confirmation the mating system of H. coralloides (propably bifactorial). This will indicate the potential for inbreeding.
Mode of establishment within trees. The species is probably latently present within functional sapwood, but more sparsely than other primary colonizers of angiosperm wood. This may be a reason for rarity. Determining how the species enter functional sapwood is therefore crucial to understanding rarity and might also assist beech forestry managers in their choice of trees to leave standing to ensure continuity of H. coralloides fruiting populations.
Understanding spore production, dispersal and germination is crucial to understanding a species’ population dynamics, genetics and distribution patterns.
H. coralloides is widespread in New Zealand, though molecular studies likely needed to confirm conspecificity of Southern Hemisphere populations with those from Europe. The species is not considered threatened in New Zealand; it occurs in (mostly) old-growth native forest.
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