• Proposed
  • 2Under Assessment
  • 3Preliminary Assessed
  • 4Assessed
  • 5Published

Pholiota nubigena (Harkn.) Redhead

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Scientific name
Pholiota nubigena
(Harkn.) Redhead
Common names
IUCN Specialist Group
Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball
Assessment status
Proposed by
Noah Siegel
Comments etc.
Noah Siegel

Assessment Notes

Taxonomic notes

Described as Secotium nubigenum from a collection made in the California, USA mountains, (Harkness 1885). Later made the Type species of the genus Nivatogastrium (Singer & Smith 1959).

Based on micro morphological and phylogenetic data, transferred into the genus Pholiota (Redhead 2014, Siegel et al. 2015).

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

Pholiota nubigena occurs on conifer debris in high elevation forest in areas with deep winter snowpack. Common in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range of California and Oregon, occasional in isolated peaks in the Siskiyou Range, and the northern Rocky Mountains in Idaho.

Under treat due to climate change, and declining snowpacks in the western North American mountains.

Geographic range

High elevation forests in the Sierra Nevada, Siskiyou, Cascade Range in California and Oregon, rare in the Washington Cascade Range, and occasional in the Rocky Mountains in Idaho.

Population and Trends

Population is widespread, and locally is can be very common; occurring through high elevation conifer forests with ample winter snowpack in California and Oregon, with scattered locations in Washington and Idaho.

It is confined to high elevation conifer forests. These forests are affected by changing climate; with warmer and drier winters that have elevated and lessened the average snowfall. Stoelinga et al. (2010) state that Cascade Range spring snowpack declined 23% during 1930-2007, and models suggest that the rate of snowpack decline with increase substantially by the end of the century (Rhoades et al. 2018).

This species is likely dependent on mycophagy (primarily eaten by small mammals) for spore dispersal, and thus, dispersal distance is limited.

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Solitary or scattered on decaying conifer debris near melting snowbanks in spring and early summer. It has a preference for Fir (Abies spp.) forests in areas with ample winter snowpack. This species is likely dependent on mycophagy (primarily eaten by small mammals) for spore dispersal.

Temperate Forest


Pholiota nubigena is a common snowbank fungus dependent on thick winter snowpacks to fruit. Snowbank fungi, unique to the western North American mountains, occur in areas with ample snowpack. They fruit in the spring and summer, as the snow melts and recedes. As the climate changes, warmer and drier winters have elevated and lessened the average snowfall.  Climate change, continued loss of habitat, decline in area of undisturbed forests, and hotter, stand replacing fires are detrimental to this species. 

Snowpack decline in the western North American mountains has been well documented (Mote et al. 2005, Mote et al 2018, Zeng et al. 2018, Stoelinga et al. 2010). Stoelinga et al. (2010) state that Cascade Range spring snowpack declined 23% during 1930-2007, and models suggest that the rate of snowpack decline with increase substantially by the end of the century (Rhoades et al. 2018).

Habitat shifting & alteration

Conservation Actions

Pholiota nubigena remains a common species in appropriate habitat, under threat due to climate change, and loss of winter snowpack.

Research needed

Use and Trade

None known.


Castellano, M.A., Smith, J.E., O’Dell, T., Cázares, E. and Nugent, S. 1999. Handbook to Strategy 1 Fungal Species in the Northwest Forest Plan. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: Portland, OR. 195 p.

Cooke, W.B. 1955. Subalpine fungi and snowbanks. Ecology 36: 124–130.

Desjardin, D.E., Wood, M.G. and Stevens, F.A. 2015. California Mushrooms: The Comprehensive Identification Guide. Timber Press: Portland, OR. 560 p.

Fyfe, J. C. et al. 2017. Large near-term projected snowpack loss over the western United States. Nat. Commun. 8, 14996 doi: 10.1038/ncomms14996.

Hesler, L.R. and Smith, A.H. 1963. North American Species of Hygrophorus. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Mote, P.W., Hamlet, A.F., Clark, M.P. and Lettenmaier, D.P. 2005: Declining mountain snowpack in western North America. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 86, 39–49.

Mote, P.W., Li, S., Lettenmaier, D.P. et al. 2018. Dramatic declines in snowpack in the western US. npj climate and atmospheric science 1, 2 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41612-018-0012-1

MyCoPortal. 2021. http://mycoportal.org/portal/index.php. Accessed on February 24.

Redhead, S.A. 2014. Nomenclatural novelties. Index fungorum 148: 1.

Rhoades, A.M., Jones, A.D. and Ullrich, P.A. 2018. The Changing Character of the California Sierra Nevada as a Natural Reservoir. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1029/2018GL080308Harkness, H.W. 1885. Fungi of the Pacific Coast IV. Bulletin of the California Academy of Sciences 1(4): 256-268. (Protologue)

Siegel, N., Nguyen, N.H. and Vellinga, E.C. 2015. Pholiota olivaceophylla, a forgotten name for a common western North American snowbank fungus, and notes on Pholiota nubigena. Mycotaxon 130(2): 517-532.

Singer, R. & Smith, A.H. 1959. Studies on secotiaceous fungi—V. Nivatogastrium gen. nov. Brittonia 11: 224-228.

Stoelinga, M.T., Albright, M.D. and Mass, C.F. 2010. A new look at snowpack trends in the Cascade Mountains. Journal of Climate 23: 10. 2473–2491. https://doi.org/10.1175/2009JCLI2911.1

Wood, M.G. and Stevens, F.A. 2021. MykoWeb; the Fungi of California. https://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Pholiota_nubigena.html

Country occurrence

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted