Tricholoma magnivelare is an edible mushroom with a distinctive flavor and odor found in British Columbia, the Pacific northwest, New England, and central Mexico. It is found in coniferous forests in association with several species of Pinus (Pines) and Abies (Firs). Allotropa virgata is an obligate myco-heterotroph with T. magnivelare. T. magnivelare is economically important in the regions where it occurs as an exported food item.
The Tricholoma magnivelare [Peck] Redhead fruiting body is white and firm with a distinctive spicy taste and odor. The cap is convex then becomes flat with a diameter of 5-20cm. The overall color becomes orangish-brown with age and bruising. The stipe is even with diameters reaching 5cm and lengths of 4-15cm. The stipe has a prominent partial veil. The hymenium has gills that are attached to the stipe and sometimes have a notch. Cystidia and clamp connections are not present (Kuo 2006). This species produces a white spore print. The inamyloid spores are subglobose to elliptical and smooth with a size of 5-7 µm x 4-6µm (Kuo 2006; Woods and Stevens 2011; Yun et al. 1997).
T. magnivelare fruits in summer and fall in northern portion of range and in summer, fall, and winter in southern portions of range (Kuo 2006; Martinez-Carrera et al. 2002). Fruiting is influenced by rainfall and temperature (Luoma et al. 2006). The mycelia is white or white with a blue tint and has the same characteristic odor as the fruiting body (Viess 2012). This species forms a colony called a “shiro” which is “a dense mass of mycelia that form a white to pale gray mat beginning just below the litter layer.” (Amaranthus et al. 2000). Humans, deer, and squirrels eat this mushroom (Viess 2012).
The distinguishing characters for this species are that the fruiting body is white and bruises orange-brown, its odor, and its stipe has a “sheathing cottony veil” (Woods and Stevens 2011), with the odor the most important. Phrases used to describe the odor include “spicy but a little bit foul” and “red hots and dirty socks” (Kuo 2006). T. magnivelare look-alikes include T. caligatum and Catathelasma imperiale. T. caligatum has a browner cap and slightly milder odor than T. magnivelare and C. imperiale has gills attached to a tapered, deeply rooted stipe and a double ring (Kuo 2006).
T. magnivelare predominantly occurs throughout British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, and northern California (Kranabetter et al. 2002). However, its full geographic range also includes areas of central Mexico (Amaranthus et al. 2000), New England, and eastern Canada (Kuo 2006). Populations found in Mexico are limited to elevations greater than 1500m (Hosford 1997).
T. magnivelare is typically found in coniferous forests with sparse understories and high moss coverages (Kranabetter et al. 2002). In the Pacific northwest, T. magnivelare is typically found in spodosol soils from glacially deposited parent material with 25% or less organic matter present and a litter layer 2-7 cm deep in coniferous forests (Hosford 1997). The parent material is either volcanic or granitic in origin. The most productive soils for T. magnivelare growth are acidic, well drained and have low fertility (Yun et al. 1997). It forms a colony called a “shiro” which is “a dense mass of mycelia that form a white to pale gray mat beginning just below the litter layer.” (Amaranthus et al. 2000). In central Mexico, it is found in temperate forests with elevations from 2000-3250 m and 12-70% slopes (Martinez-Carrera et al. 2002).
T. magnivelare has been found in ectomycorrhizal association with a variety of conifers, e.g., Pinus spp. (pines) and Abies spp. (firs) (Murata et al. 1999; Yun et al. 1997). Amaranthus et al. (2000) found T. magnivelare to be symbiotic with Abies magnifica var. shastensis (Shasta red fir) where the mushroom received carbohydrates from the tree and provided moisture and mineral nutrition to the tree (Hosford 1997; Kranabetter et al. 2002). Studies in British Columbia found T. magnivelare most commonly associated with Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg. (western hemlock) and with Pinus contorta var. latifolia Engelm. (lodgepole pine) (Kranabetter et al. 2002). It has also been found to be ectomycorrhizal with Pinus banksiana Lamb. (jack pine) in northeastern North America, Pinus contorta var. latifolia in the Rocky Mountains, Pinus teocote in Mexico, Pinus ponderosa Lawson & C. Lawson (ponderosa pine) in California and the Pacific Northwest (Kuo 2006). Other North American associates include Lithocarpus densiflorus (tanoak) (Luoma et al. 2006; Yun et al. 1997) and Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone) (Luoma et al. 2006). Pinus douglasiana, Quercus scytophylla, Quercus crassifolia, Quercus conzattii, and Arbutus spp. are other known Mexican associates (Martinez-Carrera et al. 2002).
T. magnivelare is ecologically important for Allotropa virgata Torr. & A. Grey ex A. Gray (candystick), an achlorophyllous, obligate, myco-heterotrophic plant that uses the mushroom’s mycelia as its carbon source (Leake 2005). T. magnivelare mycelia can be found directly below individuals of A. virgata, but fruiting bodies of the mushroom will be found 5-15 ft away from the Allotropa (Viess 2012). There may be a complex relationship between Abies magnifica var. shastensis, T. magnivelare, and A. virgata. In southern Oregon, A. magnifica var. shastensis and A. virgata presence can be used as indicators for locating T. magnivelare (Amaranthus et al. 2000).
T. magnivelare is under “special protection” status in Mexico (Poe 2009). There is no special status in the US, but harvesting of T. magnivelare mushrooms is amount restricted to prevent unsustainable over harvesting (Hosford 1997). Harvest has been restricted in some areas of Washington state (Amaranthus et al. 2000).
Over harvesting and improper harvesting techniques such as raking threaten T. magnivelare populations and re-fruiting. Logging in the Pacific northwest poses a threat because clear-cutting can stop fruiting for two to three decades (Amaranthus et al. 2000).
Tricholoma magnivelare is a gilled mushroom found in the Pacific Northwest of North America growing in coniferous woodland. These ectomycorrhizal fungi are typically edible species that exist in a symbiotic relationship with various species of pine. They belong to the genus Tricholoma, which includes the closely related East Asian songi or matsutake. T. magnivelare is also known as ponderosa mushroom, pine mushroom.
In recent years, globalization has made hunting for pine mushrooms popular among all types of people of British Columbia, where they are found under pine trees and often associated with deer trails. Local mushroom hunters sell their harvest daily to local depots, which rush them to airports. The mushrooms are then shipped fresh by air to Asia where demand is high and price at a premium.
- "GSD Species Synonymy: Tricholoma magnivelare (Peck) Redhead". Species Fungorum. CAB International. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- Tricholoma magnivelare. Botany.Wisc.edu. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- The American Matsutake: Tricholoma magnivelare. Mushroom Expert. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Tulloss RE. "Amanita smithiana". Amanitaceae.org. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
T. magnivelare is one of the most economically valuable forest mushrooms in the Pacific northwest (Kranabetter et al. 2002; Pilz et al. 2008). It is used for food in North America and Asia (Murata et al. 1999) with the majority of the harvest each year exported to Japan (Amaranthus et al. 2000). Between 500 – 700 t of T. magnivelare harvested from the US and Canada is exported to Japan annually and wholesales for 30 – 40 % of the T. matsutake going price. T. matsutake is culturally important in Japan but its production and availability has dramatically declined making the import of T. magnivelare as a replacement all the more important (Yun et al. 1997).
Economically important commodity for rural communities (Zapotecs and peasants) in central Mexico, almost all is exported to Japan. It has been found occassionally for sale in markets in Oaxaca. Produce/gather 2.5-5.0 kg/ha/yr. Mushrooms are harvested by the communites. Fresh mushrooms are graded and processed [ie. dried (in an oven), canned (pickled or cooked before canned), frozen, or freeze dried] before being sold to the exporters (Martinez-Carrera et al. 2002).
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