Ramaria coulterae was described based on a Type collection made in Idaho, USA (Petersen & Scates 1988).
Field identification of Ramaria is often very difficult, with macromorphological differences being subtle and often intergrading (especially in older fruitbodies).
Ramaria coulterae is an uncommon but widespread species in the Pacific Northwest, currently known from ~30 locations.
Habitat requirements are largely unknown, but it appears to be restricted to mature or old growth forests, which are in decline in the Pacific Northwest due to stand replacing fires and logging.
Known from the Sierra Nevada in California, the Cascade Range in California and Oregon, and the Rocky Mountains of Idaho. Also reported from Colorado, although the identity of these collections should be confirmed, and are not included in this assessment.
Population occurs over a widespread area, mostly on drier (east) side of the Cascade Range in California and Oregon, and the Rocky Mountains in Idaho, with disjunct population in the Sierra Nevada. Currently known from ~30 locations (Siegel et al. 2019, Mycoportal 2021). Data to fully assess trends is lacking; but this species was found at six locations during the USFS 2011-2013 southern Cascade fungal surveys; mostly from mature and old growth forests.
Occurrences of this species may be underreported in California, because of misidentifications and lack of collecting.
Ectomycorrhizal with conifers; especially Fir (Abies spp.), Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Believed to be restricted to mature and old growth forest, although many records do not disclose habitat information. Fruit bodies are solitary or scattered from ground, fruiting in spring.
This is a ectomycorrhizal fungus species dependent on living host trees for viability. The major threat to this species and its co-occurring co-generic brethren is habitat destruction, via the logging of old-growth forests to which this species has a preference for. The extent of old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest of North America has declined 90% in the last century (Society of American Foresters 1984, Haynes 1986).
Climate change and droughts, along with forest management practices has made western forests highly susceptible to stand replacing forest fires. Fire is big threat to this species’ populations. A stand replacing fire could severely degrade and/or diminish its current range. Logging and machine clearing of understory vegetation should be limited in mature and old growth forest in areas where this species might occur.
This species is included on the United States Forest Service Northwest Forest Plan Survey and Manage list of rare/old growth forests dependent fungi, and has been actively surveyed for since the late 1990’s. (Castellano et al. 2003). Included on the Oregon Natural Heritage rare fungi list (Oregon Biodiversity Information Center 2019), as a S2S3 species.
Logging or machine clearing of understory should be limited in mature (or old growth forest) in areas this species in known to occur.
Modern taxonomic research on Ramaria. A better understanding of habitat requirements of this species, and if it is restricted to mature and old growth forests. Population range, especially regarding collections in the Colorado Rockies.
This species is edible, but rarely collected by humans. Deer appear to seek out Ramaria, especially large spring fruiting species.
Castellano, M.A., Cázares, E., Fondrick, B. and Dreisbach, T. 2003. Handbook to additional fungal species of special concern in the Northwest Forest Plan (Gen. Tech Rep. PNW-GTR-572). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: Portland, OR. 144 p.
Exeter, R.L., Norvell, L. and Cázares, E. 2006. Ramaria of the Pacific Northwestern United States. United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management: Salem, OR. 157 p.
Haynes, T.W. 1986. Inventory and value of old-growth in the Douglas-fir region. PNW-RN 437. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR.
MyCoPortal. 2021. http://mycoportal.org/portal/index.php. Accessed on February 15.
Petersen, R.H. and Scates, C. 1988. Vernally fruiting taxa of Ramaria from the Pacific Northwest. Mycotaxon 33: 101–144.
Siegel, N., Vellinga, E.C., Schwarz, C., Castellano, M.A. and Ikeda, D. 2019. A Field Guide to the Rare Fungi of California’s National Forests. Bookmobile: Minneapolis, MN. 313 p.
Society of American Foresters. 1984. Scheduling the harvest of old growth : Old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest : a position of the Society of American Foresters and Report of the SAF Task Force on Scheduling the Harvest of Old-Growth Timber. Bethesda, MD.
Oregon Biodiversity Information Center. 2019. Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species of Oregon. Institute for Natural Resources, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.
Washington Natural Heritage Program List of Macrofungi https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/amp_nh_macrofungi.pdf