• 1Proposed
  • 2Under Assessment
  • 3Preliminary Assessed
  • 4Assessed
  • 5Published

Poronia punctata (L.) Fr.

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Scientific name
Poronia punctata
(L.) Fr.
Common names
IUCN Specialist Group
Cup-fungi, Truffles and Allies
Assessment status
Proposed by
David Minter
Martyn Ainsworth
Anders Dahlberg, Inita Daniele, Vera Hayova, David Minter, Eugene Popov, Yury Rebriev
Comments etc.
André Aptroot, Jacob Heilmann-Clausen, Tommy Knutsson, Kamil Kędra, Beatrice Senn-Irlet

Assessment Status Notes

Taxonomic notes

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

A once common coprophilic species which has seen very substantial decline in its populations during the last centaury as a result of decline in horse and pony populations, and possibly also as a result of use of antibiotics as food additives for horses and ponies. Red listed in many European countries.

Preliminary global red-list assessment: LC (Least Concern)

Length of evaluation period: 10 years (= 3 generation times according to recommendations of Dahlberg & Mueller 2011). Decline took place too long ago to fit A-criteria. Too large range and population size to meet B-criterion.  To large population size to meet C- and D-criterion. Possibly also not a continuous decline (to meet B and C-criteria). Total population rather probably increasing today, (although from a very small size compared to the historic level) in some countries due to increasing numbers of horses.

Geographic range

AFRICA: South Africa. ASIA: Georgia, India, Pakistan, Russia (Primorskyi krai, Yakutia). CARIBBEAN: Puerto Rico. CENTRAL AMERICA: Costa Rica. EUROPE: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Ukraine. NORTH AMERICA: Mexico, USA (Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico). SOUTH AMERICA: Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela. Altitudinal records up to 3550 m.

Population and Trends

Although GARCÍA BONA (1978) described P. punctata as occurring with some frequency in Spain in the mid-1970s, DENNIS (1978) was already pointing out that the species had become extremely rare in the UK. This was confirmed less than ten years by WHALLEY & DICKSON (1986), and the species has become one of very few ascomycetes worldwide to receive serious attention as an organism in need of conservation. The fungus is viewed as vulnerable for the Netherlands, is listed as regionally extinct in the red list for Finland (http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=29083&lan=en), is on the red lists for Denmark, Estonia, Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, and has been considered for red listing in Belgium and listed as potentially rare in Croatia. It was described in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species as: “possibly the rarest fungus in Europe. The fungus occurs only on the dung of horses and ponies which have been fed on unimproved pasture or hay. Formerly widespread in the UK, it is now confined to the New Forest, and is otherwise found only in a few places in southeast Europe”. The UK Biodiversity Action Plan attributes its decline to “changes in agricultural practices, particularly the decline in use of horses and the loss of unimproved grasslands (particularly hay meadows)”. Elsewhere in the British Isles, it is listed as extinct in Scotland (http://www.biodiversityscotland.gov.uk/library/Appendix 1E Extinct Species and Habitats.xls) and Yorkshire (http://fungus.org.uk/nwfg/bolton.htm). It is currently categorized as “indeterminate” in the IUCN / World Conservation Monitoring Centre Red Data List.

Population Trend:

Habitat and Ecology

A dung fungus, found typically on older dung of horses, ponies and, to a lesser extent cattle. In one study of cattle dung in semi-arid ecosystems of Colorado, ascomata only appeared on older cow pats (18 to 54 months old), leading this fungus to be described as a “late colonist” of herbivore dung (WICKLOW & HIRSHFIELD, 1979). Such a description may be correct if the ascospores colonize dung directly. It is also possible, however, that, like many other dung fungi, these spores only germinate after passing through the digestive tract of a herbivore. If that is the case, growth of P. punctata on the resulting dung must be very slow. Records from dung of the following animals: Bos taurus, Equus caballus, E. caballus × E. asinus, Equus sp., and Loxodonta sp. Records of P. punctata from Australia (New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria), on dung of various marsupials (Macropus sp., Vombatidae gen.indet. and Wallabia bicolor) are probably misidentifications of the closely related species P. erici Lohmeyer & Benkert.


Pollution. WICKLOW & HIRSHFIELD (1979) looked at competition between this species and seven “early colonist” fungi of cattle dung, and found that P. punctata was uniformly antagonistic to all seven. The authors speculated that the evolutionary product of interference competition among coprophilous fungal populations may be a pattern of competitive hierarchy in which certain slower-growing, later-successional species can limit the reproductive potential of other fungal colonists on dung. These complex processes of competition, which involve antibiotics seem to have made the fungus very susceptible to the presence of non-natural products, such as additives, in the food of the animal producing the dung.

Conservation Actions

Recognition of the rarity of Poronia punctata and its subsequent red listing has had a striking effect on public awareness of the need to conserve fungi. Efforts to promote populations of this species through re-introduction of pony grazing on sites in southern England has met some success, with a report of the species recolonizing two areas of heathland in Dorset (http://www.derc.org.uk/species/fungi.htm), and other reports of apparently new stations for the species in Hampshire, Surrey and even London. In Dorset, this fungus is now being closely monitored (COX, PICKESS & PETERS, 2005). The species now appears in several local biodiversity action plans in England and Wales. In southern England, forays specifically to find other stations for this rare species have been organized by amateurs, and the status of the species is now even being monitored on sites managed by the UK Ministry of Defence (http://www.defence-estates.mod.uk/conservation_enviro/sanctuary/sanctuary_issue28/ukse.htm). Another effect of red listing has been that conservationists have reported other places in Europe where the fungus still occurs, for example Croatia, and have argued that “any locality in which the species still occurs should be designated a locality of major biodiversity importance” (MATOCEC, 2000).

Research needed


ANDERSON, J.R.; EDWARDS, R.L.; POYSER, J.P.; WHALLEY, A.J.S. Metabolites of the higher fungi. XXIII. The punctaporonins - novel bi-, tri-, and tetra-cyclic sesquiterpenes related to caryophyllene, from the fungus Poronia punctata (Linnaeus: Fries) Fries. Journal of the Chemical Society Perkin Transactions I 4: 823-831 (1984). BONTEA, V. Ciuperci Parazite şi Saprofite din România. 1: 1-586, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România (1985). BONTEA, V. Ciuperci Parazite şi Saprofite din România. 2: 1-469, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România (1985). COX, J.H.S.; PICKESS, B.P.; PETERS, A. Nail Fungus Poronia punctata in Dorset, 1999 to 2005: population changes and ecological observations. Publications of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society 127: 95-99 (2005). DAWSON, M. On the biology of Poronia punctata. Annals of Botany 14: 245-260 (1900). DENNIS, R.W.G. British Ascomycetes Revised & enlarged edition 585 pp. Vaduz; J. Cramer (1978). EDWARDS, R.L.; MAITLAND, J.D.; POYSER, J.P.; WHALLEY, A.J.S. Metabolites of the higher fungi. XXV. Punctaporonin G from the fungus Poronia punctata (Linnaeus: Fries) Fries. Journal of the Chemical Society Perkin Transactions I 11: 1939-1941 (1989). GARCÍA BONA, L.M. Macromicetos nuevos o interesantes de Navarra II. Anales del Instituto Botánico A.J. Cavanilles 35: 49-78 (1978). GLOER, J.B.; TRUCKENBROD, S.M. Interference competition among coprophilous fungi: production of (+)-isoepoxydon by Poronia punctata. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 54 (4): 861-864 (1988). JONG, S.C.; ROGERS, J.D. Poronia oedipus in culture. Mycologia 61: 853-862 (1969). LOHMEYER, T.R. New European and Australian records of Poronia erici Lohmeyer and Benkert, and a fairy tale concerning their possible relationship. Mycologist 8: 16-20 (1994). MATOCEC, N. The endangered European species Poronia punctata (Xylariales, Ascomycotina), still alive and well in Croatia. Natura Croatica 9 (1): 35-40 (2000). MINTER, D.W. Poronia punctate. IMI Descriptions of Fungi and Bacteria No. 1700 (206). PANTIDOU, M.E. Fungus-Host Index for Greece. 382 pp. Benaki Phytopathological Institute, Kiphissia, Athens (1973). POYSER, J.P.; EDWARDS, R.L.; ANDERSON, J.R.; HURSTHOUSE, M.B.; WALKER, N.P.; SHELDRICK, G.M. WHALLEY, A.J.S. Punctaporonins A, D, E and F (antibiotics M95464, M167906, M171950, and M189122), isomeric allylic alcohols from the fungus Poronia punctata: X-ray crystal structures of D and E acetonide. Journal of Antibiotics Tokyo 39 (1): 167-169 (1986). ROGERS, J.D. Nummularia broomeiana: conidial state and taxonomic aspects. American Journal of Botany 62 (7): 761-764 (1975). STIERS, D.L. The fine structure of the ascus apex in Hypoxylon serpens, Poronia punctata, Rosellinia aquila and R. mammiformis. Cytologia 42 (3-4): 697-702 (1977). STIERS, D.L.; ROGERS, J.D.; RUSSELL, D.W. Conidial state of Poronia punctata. Canadian Journal of Botany 51: 481-484 (1973). WHALLEY, A.J.S.; DICKSON, G.C. Poronia punctata, a declining species? Bulletin of the British Mycological Society 20 (1): 54-57 (1986). WICKLOW, D.T.; HIRSCHFIELD, B.J. Evidence of a competitive hierarchy among coprophilous fungal populations. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 25 (7): 855-858 (1979).

See also the following internet pages:

http://mycology.sinica.edu.tw/xylariaceae/default.asp (ROGERS, J.D.; JU, Y.-M.; ADAMS, M.J. Home page of the Xylariaceae website).
http://www.ukbap.org.uk/UKPlans.aspx?ID=528 (UK Biodiversity Action Plan).
http://st.ya1.ru/topic.php?topic=10181 (presence in Yakutia).
http://sciweb.nybg.org/Science2/hcol/lists/xylariaceae.html (New York Botanic Garden, virtual herbarium)

Known distribution - countries

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted