Differentiation between Fistulina spiculifera and F. hepatica is not strongly confirmed taxonomically. If these are different species field identification does not seem possible and the researcher must resort to microscopic examination of the spores. The vast number of records in Australia are labelled F hepatica and whether this represents a mix of species in Australia or more likely, a distinct species (either F hepatica or a taxonomically distinct species ie F spiculifera) is yet to be clarified.
After P. Leonard
Cap: an applanate to somewhat umbonate bracket; 45 – 60 mm radius; cap surface
shiny and covered in small scales (spicules) which are more frequent towards the
margin; a bright blueish red (12B7, 12B8); margin blunt, rounded.
Stipe: a narrow point of attachment, but not a true stipe.
Pores: small; concolourous with cap at first but seemingly becoming paler with age.
Flesh: rubbery; monomitic; between 20 and 45 mm thick, blueish red at first
becoming a liver brown colour with age; bleeds reddish liquid when young fruit
bodies are cut.
Taste: a meaty taste and somewhat slimy texture.
Smell: not noticeable.
Spore print: hyaline, colourless.
Spores: broadly ellipsoid; 4 – 6 × 3 – 4 µm;
Basidia: not observed.
Pileipellis: an ixocutis of prostrate hyphae with column like outgrowths which form
Notes: this blueish red bracket with small upright granules (spicules) on the cap is unmistakable. First described by Mordecai Cooke in 1886 it appears to be rare in Queensland but is said to be common in the Jarrah forests of Western Australia.
[Collections examined: Linda Garrett Reserve, Adrian Harris, 13 June 2015.]
NB: D.A. Reid (1963) notes that the Australian F spiculifera appears to have spores that are longer and narrower than the Northern Hemisphere F hepatica and also describes the spores as being pale yellowish in colour while Arora (1986), describes Fistulina hepatica to have a pink to pinkish brown spore print.
This is a recognisable and distinctive wood fungus which would not readily be overlooked and yet is known to exist from a relatively small number or records since its first description by Cooke (1886) (as Polyporus spiculifer ).
This species is known from a small number of collections suggesting the population exists in three severely fragmented regions of Australia leaving Fistulina spiculifera at significant risk from stochastic events. Also regions where Fistulina spiculifera is recorded are at risk from a number of threats (see below, THREATS).
Taxonomically Fistulina spiculifera differs marginally from the Northern hemisphere species F hepatica which is also proposed for Red listing and which is known to be edible, to be of use in folk medicine and to produce a distinctive and economically valued change to Oak (Quercas) heartwood.
Saprobic or weakly parasitic fungus found on dead or living Jarrah trees (Eucalyptus marginata) and is known to produce a slow decay whereby thin black lines can be seen within the heartwood, known as pencilling. This decay does not appreciably weaken the wood. A similar condition occurring in Oak wood (Quercus) by the related F. hepaticus of the Northern Hemisphere is prized by woodworkers and termed “Brown Oak”.
In Queensland Fistulina spiculifera has been noted on Turpentine trees (Syvncarpis glomulifera) in wet sclerophyll forest.
No specific threats can be attested yet the severely fragmented population with sparse records of specimens existing in natural (non-urbanised) areas demonstrates significant risk from stochastic events that may result in local environment degradation and loss of its substrate tree.
The Victorian population exists in wet temperate forest which is recognised as Critical/Endangered status being heavily impacted by European settlement and urbanisation. Over 90% of temperate woodlands in Victoria have been cleared, mostly for agriculture. Dieback secondary to Phytophthora app.
The West Australian population exists within the Jarrah Forrest region. This is a biodiversity hotspot with habitat reduction occurring historically from agricultural modification, logging and urbanisation (Burbidge, 2010). Fire is an expected future threat due to the increasingly dry periods experienced in this area (Mockrin, 2019).
Fire from forestry practice and adjacent landowners is a recognised threat to fire sensitive species in Mapleton National Park and presumably to saprobic fungi that require old growth wood. Fortunately the region of the park where Fistulina spiculifera has been collected has reportedly remained fire free since 1923. Pest incursion from non-native plants (Lantana camara, Morning Glory (Ipomoea circa and silver leaf desmodium (Desmodium uncinatum) can occur to a distance of 50 meters from tracks (Queensland Government, 2013).
No conservation actions are currently targeting Fistulina spiculifera.
There is a requirement for the conservation of habitat (including old growth substrate) from urban, commercial and agricultural incursion.
Monitoring of population trends and habitat is required.
Research into Fistulina spiculifera is required to understand the conservation biology of this fungus including the ecological significance of its mycelial network including habitat preferences, longevity and fruiting patterns.
Like its Northern hemisphere relative F hepatica, this fungus may be useful commercially as a human food source and have medicinal properties
Allen, D.E., Hatfield, G., 2004. Medicinal plants in folk tradition: an ethnobotany of Britain & Ireland. Timber Press, Portland, [OR].
Arora, D., 1986. Mushrooms demystified: a comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi, 2nd ed. ed. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley.
Burbidge, A., 2010. Global hotspot under stress: while the south-west corner of Western Australia is recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot, its unique ecosystems have suffered land clearing, introduced pests and weeds, a changed fire regime, loss of water and salinisation. climate change may tip the balance for some species, unless effective action is taken. - Free Online Library. Eco 153, 2.
Cooke, 1886. Polyporus spiculifer. Grevillea 15, 20.
“GBIF-Fistulina Spiculifera.” Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.gbif.org/species/2531009.
GeoCAT Editor- [WWW Document], 2019. URL http://geocat.kew.org/editor (accessed 5.22.19).
Leonard, Patrick. “Fistulina-Spiculifera.Pdf.” QLD Fungi, October 2, 2015. http://qldfungi.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Fistulina-spiculifera.pdf.
Lunt, I. and A. F. Bennett. 2000. Temperate woodlands in Victoria: distribution, composition, and conservation. Pages 17 – 31 in R. J. Hobbs and C. J. Yates, editors. Temperate Eucalypt Woodlands in Australia: biology, conservation, management, and restoration. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia.
Mockrin, M., 2019. Southwestern tip of Australia | Ecoregions | WWF [WWW Document]. World Wildlife Fund. URL https://www.worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/aa1204 (accessed 5.22.19).
O’Reilly, Pat. “Fistulina Hepatica, Beefsteak Fungus.” First Nature_Fistulian hepatica. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.first-nature.com/fungi/fistulina-hepatica.php.
Queensland Government, 2013. Mapleton National Park and Mapleton National Park (Recovery) Management Statement 2013.
Reid, D.A., 1963. New or interesting records of Australasian Basidiomycetes: V. Kew bulletin 17, 267–308.
Robinson, Richard. “Fungus Factsheet 33/2009_Fistulina Spiculifera — Beefsteak Fungus.” Department of Environment and Conservation of Western Australia, July 2009. https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/images/documents/about/science/fungus/33_2009-07_Fistulina_spiculifera_DEC_FF.pdf.