Saturday, 1 March 2014

Winter Mushrooming in the Alder Swamp I: Datroniella scutellata (Datronia scutellata)

[N.B. since I wrote this post Datronia scutellata has been moved to the genus Datroniella - see below for reference]

zonate cap of Datronia scutellata
Some Datronia scutellata are prettier than others.
I live in central Ontario. Despite this being one of the meanest snow-and-ice-covered winters we’ve had in years, that hasn’t stopped me from going out mushrooming. While the dog snuffles through deep snow following deer and rabbit tracks, I’ve been peeling and carving and breaking all manner of fungi off dead trees and branches. 

An advantage of the consistent below-freezing temperatures is that it's given me easy access to an area I would normally need hip-waders to explore—the  wetland at the bottom of our property. There's a little creek down there and an ancient leaking beaver dam, a few dogwoods, a few black ash, but mostly a preponderance of alders, none of which I'd ever looked closely at before. But I've been scouring this little ecosystem for weeks and I've been coming up with all kinds of entertaining finds.

One of the first was a ladder of exquisite little polypores, none bigger than my thumbnail. At first I thought they were Perenniporia ohiensis, a diminutive shelf fungus that that looks like an elf's version of Fomes fomentarius, but has thick-walled pores. The little guys I'd found growing on a dead alder were not, however, hoof-shaped, nor did they have those characteristic well-spaced Perenniporia pores. Which made mine Datronia scutellata.    
Pore surface of Datroniella scutellata
When growing on horizontal branches, Datronia scutellata can be almost cap-free.
Since then I've found them on six other dead alder branches or dead. I may have to invest in some hip-waders to see what they look like during the growing season.

tiny Datronia scutellata shelf fungus is 2 cm wide
Datronia scutellata, a diminutive polypore, rarely measures more than 2 cm across.


Li, H.J., Cui, B.K., Dai, Y.C.Taxonomy and multi-gene phylogeny of Datronia (Polyporales, Basidiomycota), Persoonia. 2014 Jun; 32: 170–182.


  1. I think I may have found fungus today in my alder swamp. Thanks for this informative post!

    1. I went back to the alder thicket today and took some photos of the Datronia scutellata fungi. I'm posting them on Flickr in the next few minutes. Take a look.

      Finding this fungus now brings my property checklist to about 38 more or less confidently identified species.

    2. Yes - lovely clear shots! Also, it's now called Datroniella scutellata. Sequencing is happening so fast it's hard to keep up!

    3. Thanks for stopping by to take a look! I'll make the nomenclature change.

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