Polyozellus atrolazulinus was described from a Type collection made in Oregon, USA (Voitk et al. 2017). Before that, it has long been referred to as Polyozellus multiplex; a species complex of at least five distinct species (Voitk et al. 2017).
Polyozellus atrolazulinus is a widespread but uncommon species, currently known from northeast USA and southeast Canada, montane western North America into Alaska and far east Asia. Long referred to by the name Polyozellus multiplex, which is now known to be a species complex of at least five distinct species.
Based of the widespread distribution of this species, and not directly tied to a habitat in decline in eastern North America (Pacific Northwest population appear to be restricted to mature and old growth forests, which are in decline), this species likely has to be listed as Least Concern, although data to make a full assessment is lacking.
Polyozellus atrolazulinus is a widespread species with three disjunct populations. However, being recently described, and difficult to distinguish from other Polyozellus species, it may be found to be more continuous in distribution throughout northern spruce-fir forests. Currently, it is known from the mountains in western North America, north (and at lower elevations) into southeast Alaska; northeastern North America, from Quebec to Newfoundland, Canada south into New England, USA; and from the Kuril Islands in eastern Asia (Voitk et al. 2017).
Populations of Polyozellus atrolazulinus occur over a widespread area, but generally uncommon throughout the range. Most Pacific Northwest collections come from mature and old growths forests, a habitat in decline.
Data to assess trends is lacking, in part due to all collections of Polyozellus being called P. multiplex pre-2017.
Population Trend: Uncertain
Polyozellus atrolazulinus is an ectomycorrhizal species, associated with spruce (Picea spp.) and fir (Abies spp.); typically in mature and old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest.
Continued logging and loss of mature and old growth forests, especially in British Columbia, Canada and Alaska, USA are likely detrimental to Pacific Northwest populations of this species. Droughts and stand replacing fires, especially in the Rocky Mountains. Too little is known about the habitat preferences and requirements of the northeastern North American and Asian populations to make a robust assessment on threats.
This species (as Polyozellus multiplex) was included on the Northwest Forest Plan list of rare and/old growth forests dependent species, and has been actively surveyed fro since the late 1990’s (Castellano et al. 1999).
Habitat this species is found to occur in should be considered for protection from logging and large scale forest disturbance.
A better understanding of habitat restraints and requirements, and range of this species.
Polyozellus species are edible, but not often highly regarded in North America. They are highly prized dye fungi, and are indiscriminately collected by fiber artist.
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.
Voitk, A., Saar, I., Trudell, S., Spirin, V., Beug, M. and Kõljalg, U. 2017. Polyozellus multiplex (Thelephorales) is a species complex containing four new species. Mycologia 109(6): 975-992.