Battarrea phalloides and B. stevenii are morphologically similar. Morphological comparisons have shown that the specimens examined formed a continuum and molecular data has recently suggested they should be considered as synonyms. Recent molecular studies have, however, grouped the species in three closely related clades correlated to minor differences in spore ornamentation as seen under SEM. This has been explained as a genetic drift phenomenon but should be investigated more closely, using a wide geographical sampling.
Rare and distinctive saprotrophic fungus with a wide global distribution but with a small and scattered populatıon. Grows in dry habitats on sandy soils with little ground vegetation. Habitats could be under various threats: overgrowth, transformation of steppe habitats into farmland, afforestation of steppe habitats, exploitation (road constructions, buildings etc). It occurs in more or less xeric habitats in continental regions but also has scattered occurrences in dry woodlands and on sand dunes in W and SW Europe. When found in woodlands, often adjacent to or inside of old hollow tree trunks. in W. Europe found almost exclusively in relic habitats. An estimated decline of the species is due to intensified and expanded agriculture combined with a decline in grazing. Exploitation by means of road constructions, buildings etc can in some areas threaten its habitats. There is a strong need of maintaining and protecting current populations.
Preliminary global red-list assessment:
Cause: Although widely distributed the species has a small population globally, with scattered occurrences. A decline in population is due to changing land-use.
Need of more information: Current distribution and status as well as population trends should be investigated globally. Research into the ecological requirements of the species should be promoted.
Global scatered distribution on the small number of localities. Battarrea phalloides is found in dry, sandy locations throughout the world, and has been collected from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America (primarily in western regions), and South America.
Battarrea phalloides has a global distribution but a small population and a small number of localities. It has become extinct from some of the historical localities in Macedonia, Serbia and the UK. In Russia not more than 20 finds are known (included in 8 regional Red Books). In Poland it is known from 2 localities. National action plan in the UK. In the past, 3 localities in Macedonia. Extinct in two, now only one, the island Golem Grad on Prespa Lake. This small island (20 ha) has maybe the biggest population in Europe with more than 60 fruiting bodies. On a global scale the species has a small number of localities with a small number of individuals in subpopulations. Current population size estimated to number fewer than 5000(?) individuals and no subpopulation estimated to contain more than 250 individuals. An estimated decline of 15-30% over the last 30 years seems likely.
Population Trend: Deteriorating
Battarrea phalloides is a saprotrophic fungus growing on sandy soils with little ground vegetation. Strongly thermophilous. Known from steppe and desert vegetation, light steppic woodlands (eg Robinia; Hungary, Austria; Quercus-Pinus; Austria), ancient Juniperus-steppe vegetation (Macedonia), along sandy road sides with remaining old trees and hedges in agricultural areas (UK, Slovakia; relic habitats), in dry habitats with little ground vegetation on slopes with overhanging cliffs adjacent to cave openings on sand stone (Germany), in or adjacent to old hollow tree-trunks (Hungary, UK), under shrubs in sand dune areas (Spain), in open sandy areas on military training fields (Hungary), on sandy river banks (S. Africa), in halophytic environments in dune areas and river estuaries etc. Sometimes also in anthropogenic sites: “vegetable debris” (South Africa) or in waste places in surrounding steppe vegetation (Hungary).
Change of land-use in non-agricultural areas. Habitats could be under the various threats. Occurrences could easily be destroyed by means of agriculture or in Europe by afforestation of sands in the Pannonian plain. A decline in grazing is supposed to be detrimental as B. phalloides seems to be dependent on microhabitats with little or no ground vegetation, often combined with light to moderate soil disturbance.
Need of protecting current populations and localities. Subject to a National Action Plan in the UK involving monitoring of known sites and search for new locations. Monitoring to establish current status should be initiated also in eg Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Macedonia etc. In Central Europe the importance of still used (or disused) military training fields for species diversity should be highlighted.
Distribution, population trends and research into the ecological requirements of the species. Taxonomic studies with a wide geographical sampling to investigate the taxonomic implications of the genetic/morphological differences within the species as shown by Martín & Johannesson 2000 and Martín et al. 2013.
Martin MP, Johannesson H. (2000). Battarrea phalloides and B. stevenii, insight into a long-standing taxonomic puzzle. Mycotaxon 75: 67–75.
Martín MP, Rusevska K, Dueñas M, Karadelev M 2013. Battarrea phalloides in Macedonia: genetic variability, distribution and ecology. Acta Mycologica 48(1): 113-122.
Watling R, Gucin F, Isiloglu M. (1995). Battarraea phalloides – its history, biology and extension to its distribution. Nova Hedwigia 60: 13–18.
Kathryn M, Jacobson K, Peter J, Orson M. Jr. (1999): The autecology of Battarrea stevenii in ephemeral rivers of southwestern Africa. Mycol. Res. 103(1): 9-17.
Sobestiansky G. (2005): Contribution to a macromycete survey of the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina in Brazil. Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology 48(3): 437–57.
Muhammad Ismail Bhatti, Muhammad Mithal Jiskani, Kishwar Sultana, and Mohammad Yousif Channa (2013): Battarrea phalloides (Dicks.) Pers., the sandy stiltball mushroom – a new record from Pae forest Sakrand, Shaheed Benazir Abad Sindh, Pakistan. Fungal Jungal Newsletter at: http://www.fungaljungal.org/essays/newsletter-issues/fungal-jungal-newsletter-february-2013/research/