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

Cordyceps hauturu Dingley

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Scientific name
Cordyceps hauturu
Common names
IUCN Specialist Group
Cup-fungi, Truffles and Allies
Assessment status
Under Assessment
Proposed by
Peter Buchanan
Peter Buchanan
Tom May
Peter Buchanan
Comments etc.
Anders Dahlberg

Assessment Notes

Until the host(s) are identified knowledge is lacking to predict fungal distribution and threats to this obligate parasite. Future population trends of host and fungus are closely tied.

Taxonomic notes

C. hauturu is a New Zealand endemic insect parasite, described in 1953 by Joan Dingley, an experienced mycologist who noted its distinction from the superficially similar and more common Ophiocordyceps robertsii. The latter species, known to Māori as āwheto, was collected and burnt to produce a black pigment for tattooing. Possibly, C. hauturu was used for the same purpose.

Apart from the holotype and a second specimen included in the protologue (both from the Auckland region), no other specimens were identified under this name until recently. In 2019, 3 additional specimens (1 predating the holotype) were distinguished by macromorphology by Peter R. Johnston from among 55 Fungarium PDD specimens of O. robertsii and 107 specimens of Cordyceps sp., .  O. robertsii has discrete perithecia, while those of C. hauturu are more immersed and somewhat stromatic.

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

New Zealand endemic insect parasite, on hepialid moth larvae. Only 5 specimens in Fungarium PDD, but from widely dispersed locations. Can be superficially confused with more common Ophiocordyceps robertsii, also on hepialid moth larvae.

Geographic range

Endemic to New Zealand.  The 5 collections known are geographically widely dispersed in both North and South Islands. The identity of the hepialid host(s) have not been investigated.  It is not known whether the widespread distribution of C. hauturu reflects the sporadic distribution of one (or more?) host species.

Population and Trends

Unknown, but as a parasite is likely following the trend of its host hepialid species.

Population Trend:

Habitat and Ecology

Obligately parasitic on caterpillar larvae of one or more species of native hepialid moth, producing its aerial fruitbody from buried mummified caterpillars. Known from podocarp/broadleaf temperate forest.


Vulnerable to decline of native hepialid moth species, but this is unknown pending identification of the host(s). 
Might become vulnerable if commercial harvesting initiatives (currently under consideration in New Zealand involving Asian partnerships) target this species in preference to the comparatively common O. robertsii.

Conservation Actions


Research needed

Now that recently collected (2014, 2015) specimens of C. hauturu have been distinguished from fungarium material filed as Cordyceps sp. and O. robertsii, phylogenetic relationships can be determined.  Identification of the hepialid host(s) is a priority in order to better predict the distribution of C. hauturu and to evaluate any threats to the host and hence to its obligate parasite.

Use and Trade

The potential of this species for medicinal or nutraceutical use has not been considered, cf major over-exploitation of O. sinensis, and interest locally and from abroad to therapeutic use of Ophiocordyceps species . .C. hauturu could be under threat If found to have applied use.


Dingley JM 1953. The Hypocreales of New Zealand. V. The Genera Cordyceps and Torrubiella. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 81(3): 329-343.

Known distribution - countries

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted