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

Elaphomyces aculeatus Vittad.

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Scientific name
Elaphomyces aculeatus
Common names
Pigget hjortetrøffel
taggig hjorttryffel
srnka ostnatá
IUCN Specialist Group
Cup-fungi, Truffles and Allies
Assessment status
Under Assessment
Proposed by
David Minter
Jean Berube, Johan Nitare
David Minter
Anders Dahlberg, Ivona Kautmanova, Vladimír Kunca
Comments etc.
Piotr Chachuła, Andreas Gminder, Michael Krikorev, Thomas Læssøe

Assessment Notes

Taxonomic notes

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

The hypogeous fungus Elaphomyces aculeatus is a very rare ectomycorrhizal fungi with perennial ascocarps. Only few scattered observations are made in Europe. Records from central Europe are mostly old and out of date. A finding in Denmark dates back to 1871. In old days, it was also found in Italy, Hungary, France, Switserland and the United Kingdom. In several countries it is considered extinct. The last 30 years, the hypogeous mycoflora has been intensely investigated and five records of the species are now known from Sweden.  The species appear as a relict in small, threatened and very old remnants of broadleaved deciduous habitats (ecosystems) with e.g. Corylus and Quercus. (probably with tree-continuity and living mycelia from ancient time).  Only one of the known localities is under protection. No recent disperal is known. (Johan Nitare)

Geographic range

*  Temperate zone in Europe, in recent years only known from Sweden. Old records from Denmark, Italy, Hungary, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (Johan Nitare).  Also in recent years found in Slovakia. 

* Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, UK (David Minter).

Distribution need to be checked

Population and Trends

Because trained dogs can find hypogeous fungi more easily than humans, estimates of abundance of all hypogeous species tend to be higher in Mediterranean countries where there is a tradition of using such animals. Described by PEGLER, SPOONER & YOUNG (1993) as generally widespread in Europe but very rare in the British Isles. Described by MONTECCHI & SARASINI (2000) as rather uncommon in Europe. It is regarded as uncommon in Asturias, Spain, and rare in the Region Emilia-Parma area of Italy (BINCOLETTO, MONTECCHI & SARASINI, 1999). It has been red-listed as extinct in Germany, endangered in Sweden and rare in Denmark. Using IUCN Categories and Criteria, MINTER (2007) evaluated the conservation status of this species globally as Data Deficient (Near Threatened).

Population Trend: Uncertain

Habitat and Ecology

Hypogeous fungus forming ectomycorrhiza with deciduous trees; Corylus, Qurcus and Fagus. The Swedish records are all from Corylus stands on calcareous, almost black sandy soils with low proportion of clay. The habitat can often be characterized as”nemoral, old wooded meadows, coppice and semi-natural broadleaved stands or old hazel groves”. In Switzerland and England found under Fagus. (Johan Nitare)

Hypogeous fungi make an important contribution to the dynamics of woodland and forest soils, through their mutualism with mammals resulting in digging and aeration: a disturbed forest soil surface is often indicative of the presence of Elaphomyces. Species of Elaphomyces typically occur at the interface between the organic soil above and the mineral soil below. In England, Elaphomyces aculeatus has been found 5-10 cm below the surface and is strongly associated with calcareous soil. The species has been observed in June, July, August, September and October. AGERER (1987-2002, 1999) has demonstrated that this species forms mycorrhizas with Quercus robur, and it was one of the species mentioned in a study of different types of ectomycorrhizas as pollution stress indicators in Slovenia (KRAIGHER, AL SAYEGH PETKOVŠEK, GREBENC. & SIMONČIČ, 2007). Elaphomyces aculeatus is occasionally parasitized by Cordyceps canadensis (= Elaphocordyceps capitata). Parasitism of the Elaphomycetaceae by members of that genus is common; the often brightly coloured fruitbodies of Cordyceps above ground can help in the finding of associated Elaphomyces underground. Associated plants: Castanea sativa; Corylus avellana; Fagus sylvatica; Fagus sp.; Fraxinus sp.; Picea sp.; Quercus pedunculata; Quercus sp. Associated fungi: Cordyceps canadensis (= Elaphocordyceps capitata). Other substrata: soil.


Main threat is logging and local exploitation. Also the very small and isolated populations.

Elaphomyces aculeatus was one of the species mentioned in a study of different types of ectomycorrhizas as pollution stress indicators in Slovenia (KRAIGHER, AL SAYEGH PETKOVŠEK, GREBENC. & SIMONČIČ, 2007). Other species of Elaphomyces have been shown to be affected by radionuclide pollution, particularly following the Chernobyl disaster, and E. aculeatus is likely to be similarly susceptible.

Conservation Actions

A species Conservation Action plan for the species is undertaken in Sweden.

Research needed

Use and Trade


AGERER, R. Colour Atlas of Ectomycorrhizae 1st-12th del., Einhorn-Verlag, Schwäbisch Gmünd (1987-2003) [summary available on-line at: http://www.botanik.biologie.uni-muenchen.de/botsyst/atlas.html].
AGERER, R. Descriptions of Mycorrhizae 4: 37-41 (1999).
BINCOLETTO, A., MONTECCHI, A. & SARASINI, M. Funghi ipogei rari del territorio reggiano-parmense [Rare hypogeous fungi of the Reggio Emilia-Parma area]. Pagine di Micologia 1999 (12): 26-30 (1999).
DODGE, C.W. The higher Plectascales Annales Mycologici 27: 145-184 (1929).
HAWKER, L.E. British hypogeous fungi. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B 237: 429-546, 29 figs (1954).
HAWKER, L.E. Revised annotated list of British hypogeous fungi. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 63: 67-76 (1974).
Kers, L.E. 1979. Elaphomyces aculeatus found in Sweden. Svensk Bot. Tidskr. 73: 123-126.
Knapp, A. 1952. Die europäischen Hypogaeen-Gattungen und ihre Gattungstypen. Schweiz. Zeitschr. Pilzk. 28: 81-92.
KRAIGHER, H., AL SAYEGH PETKOVŠEK, S., GREBENC, T. & SIMONČIČ, P. Types of ectomycorrhiza as pollution stress indicators: case studies in Slovenia. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 128 (1-3): 31-45 (2007).
Lange, M. 1956. Danish hypogeous macromycetes. Dansk Bot. Arkiv 16.
MINTER, D.W. Elaphomyces aculeatus. IMI Descriptions of Fungi and Bacteria 1715 (2007).
MONTECCHI, A. & SARASINI, M. Funghi Ipogei d’Europa (Trento, Italy: Associazione Micologica Bresadola): [i-vi] 714 pp. (2000).
PEGLER, D.N., SPOONER, B.M. & YOUNG, T.W.K. British Truffles a Revision of British Hypogeous Fungi (Kew, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens): [i-viii], 216 pp., 26 plates (1993).
RAITVIIR, A. & LEENURM, K. New species and new records of Ascomycetes from Estonia. Folia Cryptogamica Estonica 37: 85-92 (2000).
Rydberg, H. 2007. Åtgärdsprogram för taggig hjorttryffel 2007-2010. (Action Plan for Elaphomyces aculeatus. Naturvårdsverket, rapport 5721.
Rydberg, H. 2010. Taggig hjorttryffel, nationell inventering 2005-2009. Länsstyrelsen i Stockholms län, Rapport 2010:12 (http://www.lansstyrelsen.se/stockholm/publikationer).
Szemere, L. 1965. Die unterirdischen Pilze des Karpatenbeckens. Budapest.

See also the following internet pages:

http://aropath.lanl.gov/Organisms/Acronyms_sorted_by_species.html (aromatic metabolic pathways);
http://www.artdata.slu.se/Bern_Fungi/Swedish fungal Red List 2005.pdf (red listing for Sweden);
http://www.asturnatura.com/articulos/revista/catalogohongosast.pdf (occurrence in Spain);
http://www.bfn.de/fileadmin/MDB/documents/RoteListePflanzen.pdf (red listing for Germany);
http://www.netbiologen.dk/rodliste/rodsvampe.htm (red listing in Denmark).

Known distribution - countries

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted