First described in 1948 (Zeller) from a collection made in Butte County, California, (near Merrimac) as Secotium albipes. Later transferred to the genus Brauniellula (Smith & Singer 1958), who also described Brauniellula nancyae. Miller (2003) synonymized B. nancyae with B. albipes, and stated it belonged in the genus Chroogomphus, but did not formally transfer it. Li, et. al (2009) made the transfer to Chroogomphus, after the name Chroogomphus was conserved against Brauniellula (the older name).
Chroogomphus albipes is recognized by the rounded to irregularly lobed cap, with a margin attached to a much-reduced stipe when young, separating slightly when mature, but remaining down-curved at all stages. The ocher to pale orange cap is partially to extensively covered with grayish to brownish gray fibrils when young, becoming vinaceous to purplish red overall in age. The highly convoluted, loculate gleba starts off ochraceous to pale orange, soon becoming darker, grayish orange to nearly black when spores mature.
Widespread in western North America, mostly in montane pine forests. Currently known from ~90 locations; mostly in the Rocky Mountains, but also the Cascade ranges in the Pacific Northwest and northern California, the Sierra Nevada, and north coastal California.
Widespread in the western North American, mostly in montane habitat with Pinus contorta, occasionally in coastal pine forest. Uncommon from southern California into British Columbia, locally common in the Rocky Mountains.
Reported as “abundant” by Thiers (1979), who said about the now synonymous Brauniellula nancyae “Abundant throughout the Sierra Nevada where it is commonly associated with lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta ssp. murrayana). Less common but widespread and associated with the same mycorrhizal host in other mountain ranges within the state”.
Only three collections were made in a thirty years period (1986-2016), once in 1989, twice in 2011, and only three observations (1996, 2003, and 2005) are reported on Mushroom Observer. Targeted surveys in 2017 attempting to find this species found it abundant in suitable habitat in California (N. Siegel, unpublished).
Population Trend: Stable
Solitary, scattered, or in fused clusters, often hypogeous (buried in soil or duff). Chroogomphus in general are associated with ectomycorrhizal Suillus species, likely as myco-parasites of those taxa. Most collections come from higher elevation Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta subsp. murrayana) forests in California, possibly associated with three-needle pines as well. Fruiting in summer and fall.
Lodgepole Pine dieback, due to climate change and pine beetle outbreaks has devastated some western North American pine forest. Prolonged droughts and decades of fire suppression have drastically altered the high sierra forest, leading to thicker, denser, Abies dominated forest. As a result, hotter, stand replacing fires (rather than patchwork and understory burns) are commonplace, altering appropriate habitat drastically, and likely making it ill-suited for this species.
Additional surveys in other parts of the range, especially in Colorado where Mountain pine beetle infestations have devastated some local pine forests.
Li, Y.C., Yang, Z.L. and Tolger, B.. 2009. Phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships of Chroogomphus species as inferred from molecular and morphological data. Fungal Diversity 38: 85–104.
Miller, O.K. 2003. The Gomphidiaceae revisited: a worldwide perspective. Mycologia 95: 176–183.
Miller, O.K. and Trappe, J.M. 1970. A new Chroogomphus with a loculate hymenium and a revised key to section Floccigomphus. Mycologia 62(4):831–836.
Pacioni, G. and Fogel, R. 1990. Brauniellula crassitunicata, a new secotioid species of Gomphidiaceae (Boletales, Basidiomycotina). Mycologia 82: 617–621.
Siegel, N., Vellinga, E.C., Schwarz, C., Castellano, M.A. and Ikeda, D. 2019. A Field Guide to the Rare Fungi of California’s National Forests. Bookmobile: Minneapolis, MN. 313 p.
Smith, A.H. and Singer, R.. 1958. Studies on secotiaceous fungi VIII. A new genus related to Gomphidius. Mycologia 50: 927–938.
Thiers, H.D. 1979. New and interesting hypogeous and secotioid fungi from California. Beihefte zur Sydowia 8: 381–390.
Zeller, S.M. 1948. Notes on certain Gasteromycetes, including two new orders. Mycologia 40: 639–668.
Mushroom Observer. 2020. http://mushroomobserver.org
MyCoPortal. Mycology Collections Portal. Available at: http://mycoportal.org