This distinctive and conspicuous species has only been recorded in association with Pinus leucodermis in undisturbed natural or semi-natural forests. It is only known from two stations, both on mountains in the Balkans. Searches for it on Pinus leucodermis growing naturally on other mountains in the Balkans have so far been unsuccessful. The species has not been seen in association with other pines, even when they are growing adjacent to colonized trees. The known populations are very small and, with the more frequent forest fires resulting frm climate change constitute a very real threat.
Bulgaria (one known station), Greece (one known station).
Discovered on Mount Olympus in Greece, and until 2012 known only from the site of discovery. Since then a second station has been found in Bulgaria. Listed provisionally as critically endangered by Anon. (2011). Extent of occurrence: too few stations to estimate. Area of occupancy: 8 km squared.
Population Trend: Stable
This fungus has been observed only in association with Pinus leucodermis. It produces fruitbodies on dead portions of branches and twigs attached to living trees. The fungus may perhaps kill lower, possibly suppressed branches, but has not been observed to cause mortality of the a tree. Several instances have occurred where the fungus was seen on branches of this tree, but not on branches of Pinus nigra growing less than 1 m distant. All records are from mountainous areas and natural forest. Old fruitbodies of Zeus olympius have been with Nectria Ganymede Lowen & Minter growing on them, apparently as a parasite. Dispersal is by ascospores released into the air in humid conditions.
Forest fires, more frequent as a result of climate change, may be the single largest threat.
Raise awareness among site managers of the presence of this extremely rare species. Ensure it is not persecuted for perceived damage to associated trees. Ensure colonized branches are not cleared, but are left in place.
Ex situ conservation. An isolate of this species is maintained in the CABI fungal culture collection.
Anon. Species on the Edge of Survival. IUCN & Harper Collins, 400 pp. (2011).