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Cordyceps hauturu Dingley

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Scientific name
Cordyceps hauturu
Common names
IUCN Specialist Group
Cup-fungi, Truffles and Allies
Assessment status
Assessment date
IUCN Red List Category
Buchanan, P.
Cooper, J.A.

Assessment Notes

The content on this page is fetched from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/154811245/154811312


This species is only known from five collections, but so little is known about its ecological requirements (i.e. obligate host species) that it is not possible to estimate its population size or trends with any degree of certainty. It is therefore assessed as Data Deficient. Further research is urgently needed.

Taxonomic notes

Cordyceps 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, three additional specimens (one 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 species.  O. robertsii has discrete perithecia, while those of C. hauturu are more immersed and somewhat stromatic.

Geographic range

This species is endemic to New Zealand. The five collections known are geographically widely dispersed in both North and South Islands. The identity of the hepialid moth host(s) has not been investigated. It is not known whether the widespread distribution of Cordyceps hauturu reflects the sporadic distribution of one (or more) host species.

Population and Trends

Its population size and trend are unknown, but as a parasite it is likely to be following the trend of its host hepialid moth species. One of its potential host species (Heloxycanus patricki) is assessed as At Risk - Declining, according to the New Zealand Threat Classification System (Hoare et al. 2017). There are fewer sightings of this Cordyceps species than the related Ophiocordyceps robertsii.

Population Trend: unknown

Habitat and Ecology

This species is obligately parasitic on caterpillar larvae of one or more species of native hepialid moth, producing its aerial fruitbody from buried mummified caterpillars. It is known from podocarp/broadleaf temperate forest.


It is vulnerable to decline of native hepialid moth species, but this is unknown pending identification of the host(s).  

It might become vulnerable if commercial harvesting initiatives (currently under consideration in New Zealand involving Asian partnerships) target this species in preference to the less uncommon Ophiocordyceps robertsii.

Conservation Actions

Now that recently collected (2014, 2015) specimens of Cordyceps hauturu have been distinguished from fungarium material filed as Cordyceps sp. and Ophiocordyceps 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, compared to major over-exploitation of Ophiocordyceps sinensis, and interest locally and from abroad to therapeutic use of Ophiocordyceps species. Cordyceps hauturu could be under threat if found to have applied use.

Source and Citation

Buchanan, P. 2019. Cordyceps hauturu. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T154811245A154811312. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T154811245A154811312.en .Accessed on 31 January 2022

Country occurrence