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Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Nicolas VAN VOOREN, 31-05-2012 09:11
Nicolas VAN VOORENDear all.
Following the discussion about "Mycogone cervina on Helvella", I tried to check part of the literature on the following species: H. solitaria, H. leucomelaena and H. confusa. I also verify my own data based on fresh collections.

Helvella solitaria Karst. and H. queletii Bres. correspond to the same taxon. It is well characterised by its distinct stipe with regular ribs and its brown cupule compressed laterally; spores 17-24 (25) x (12.5) 13-15 µm ; asci with pleurorynchous base. It grows in spring, under hardwood (Populus, Salix, Quercus), near rivers or wet places. Selected illustrations: Boudier (Icon #242 under Cyathipodia dupainii), Bresadola (Icon #1172 under H. queletii), Dissing (1966, fig. 18, under H. queletii), Weber (1972, fig. 27 & 28, under H. queletii), Harmaja (1977, fig. 1), Cetto (1979, #1204, under H. queletii), Breitenbach & Kränzlin (1981, #18, under H. queletii), Häffner (1987: 49), Medardi (2006: 84).

Helvella leucomelaena (Pers.) Nannf. is characterised by its dark grey  to blackish apothecia (lighter or whitish only at the base), deeply cupuliform, generally subsessile or with a very short stipe and less or more visible ribs; spores (19.5) 20-23 (24) x 11-13 (13.5) µm; asci with aporynchous base. It grows in earlier spring, strictly under Pinus. Selected illustrations: Boudier (Icon #249, under Acetabula leucomelas), Dissing (1966, fig. 8), Marchand (1973, #195), Kränzlin (1981, #27, under Paxina leucomelas), Häffner (1987: 27), Schmid & Schmid (1991, #51), Dähncke (1200 Pilze, #1115).

Helvella confusa Harmaja. The problem is more complex. The name was published by Harmaja in 1977, based pro parte on the interpretation of H. solitataria sensu Dissing (1966). It seems that the description is a mix of H. solitaria s. Dissing and H. leucomelaena. The holotype is the collection illustrated by Dissing on its fig. 10. No ecological data is provided. After Fidel Landeros, this sample corresponds to H. leucomelaena! So this collection could represent specimens of H. leucomelaena with unusual long stipe... In the same time, several mycologists (including me) use the name H. confusa for a taxon growing from May to July, under Picea abies, characterized by its grey to grey-brown colour and its white stipe with less or more distinct ribs; spores 20-23 (24) x (12.5) 13-14.5 (15) µm; asci with aporynchous base. I think this is Häffner (1987) who was the first to use this name for such a taxon. Selected illustrations: Häffner (1987: 19), Cetto (1993, #2915), Medardi (2006: 79, under H. leucomelaena).

Harmaja (1979) compares different species (including H. leucomelaena and H. confusa) in a table, but the differences between these two taxa seems tenuous. About H. confusa, he cites as illustration the plate 653 (as Paxina acetabulum) from the book 700 Pilze by Dähncke. I do not have this edition to verify. Maybe this confusion comes from the difficulty, in the Nordic countries, to separate collections of the two taxa, but the ecology is crucial.
I attach 3 photographs of my collections.
All comments and experiences are welcome.
  • message #18785
  • message #18785
  • message #18785
Neven Matocec, 31-05-2012 09:23
Neven Matocec
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Dear Nicolas,

In a great hurry I just want to respond at least to state that I have almost exactly the same data and species concepts! Of course, the application of the names (not only in Helvella spp.) to the 'real material' remains to be reconsidered from case to case!

Thank you very much for this valuable contribution! Since we are in turbulent situation between struggling to make vital treatments on a number of valuable collections that keep on coming before they got deteriorated and making obligatory project field-work sessions, I may not be able to make prompt repiles for several weeks!

Landeros Fidel, 31-05-2012 10:42
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Dear Nicolas and Neven

In fact the problem is even more complex, because Harmaja described three species close to Helvella leucomelaena, which are H. confusa, H. oblongispora and H. pedunculata. Unfortunately I could not study the type specimen of H. oblongispora and H. pedunculata.

Then, I annex part of the discussion of H. leucomelaena which was written in the manuscript of the phylogeny and taxonomy of Helvella, that will be sent in the coming weeks to reviewers.

"Comments: Helvella leucomelaena is probably the species that has generated more problems in its delimitation. Harmaja (1977a, 1977b, 1978) described three similar species, H. confusa, H. oblongispora, and H. pedunculata, and latter compared and distinguished among the three (Harmaja 1979, Table 2). Abbott and Currah (1997) synonymized H. confusa and H. pedunculata under H. leucomelaena, considering only H. oblongispora as a separate species. They mentioned that the Harmaja's table was in fact a good representation of the variation of H. leucomelaena. We checked the holotype of H. confusa and agree with Abbott and Currah (1997), because we did not find any difference with respect to other specimens identified as H. leucomelaena. The table constructed by Harmaja (1979) presents continuous features overlaping among the species and representing the concept of H. leucomelaena. Unfortunately, we could not study the other two type specimens, but we examined very good collections of H. pedunculata deposited in OULU, some of them determined by Harmaja, and we did not find any difference with respect to other specimens. For this reason, we also consider this name as a synonym of H. leucomelaena. Also, after checking the type specimens, we agree with Dissing (1966b) that Acetabula calyx and Peziza debeauxii are synonyms of H. leucomelaena. Likewise, H. melaleuca has to be considered as a synonym too, as was proposed by Abbott and Currah (1997). There is only pending the taxonomic status of H. oblongispora."

In a few hours or tomorrow, I will upload photos of type specimens of Acetabula calyx, Peziza debeauxii, H. confusa, H. melaleuca and some specimens labeled by Harmaja as H. pedunculata that the curator of the herbarium OULU lent me. And I will look for the labels of the specimens that were sequenced, to see if they have the collection date and type of vegetation.

Carlo Agnello, 02-06-2012 07:57
Carlo Agnello
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Hi to all,

forgive me for my bad English.

Maybe is not exact to write that Dissing considered Acetabula calyx a synonym of Helvella leucomelaena...   
Landeros Fidel, 05-06-2012 18:39
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Yes, you arre right, Dissing (1966, p. 44) described that Acetabula calyx is a synonym of H. solitaria, not of H. leucomelaena. Who mentioned that A. calyx is a synonym of H. leucomelaena were Abbott and Currah (1997, p. 67). In the herbarium K is the isotype of A. calyx and it has aporrhynchous asci, so I agree with Abbott & Currah, that A. calyx is a synonym of H. leucomelaena.

Sorry, but when I have time, I will upload the pictures of the specimens mentioned.

Nicolas VAN VOOREN, 05-06-2012 18:54
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion

If Acetabula calyx Sacc. is synonymous with H. leucomelaena, what represents the icon # 248 from Boudier? I never saw H. leucomelaena with such a shape!

Landeros Fidel, 05-06-2012 20:15
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Dear Nicolas

Could you upload the Boudier's plate?, thanks a lot.

Nicolas VAN VOOREN, 05-06-2012 20:40
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Here is the plate. Boudier drew this plate after a collection sent by Bresadola but collected by Saccardo.
  • message #18846
Landeros Fidel, 05-06-2012 20:53
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Dear Nicolas,

The isotype of Acetabula calyx is different, and I do not know at which Helvella species corresponds the Boudier's plate.

Next week I will upload pictures of type specimens that I mentioned (because in this week I have to finish other things), and you will see that the isotype of Acetabula calyx (deposited in K) is different from the Boudier's plate.

Alessio Pierotti, 06-06-2012 17:29
Alessio Pierotti
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Questa è la diagnosi di Acetabula calyx fornita da Saccardo in "Fungi veneti novi vel critici", lavoro pubblicato nel 1873 sul volume V del Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano. La diagnosi è proposta nelle pagine 295-296.
  • message #18848
Alessio Pierotti, 06-06-2012 17:33
Alessio Pierotti
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
Questa è la tavola pubblica da Bresadola nell'Iconographia Mycologica nel 1932 (volume 24) e relativa descrizione.
  • message #18849
  • message #18849
Mario Filippa, 20-12-2012 01:57
Re : Helvella solitaria and allies: interpretation and confusion
After some months I found the time to take a look in AscoFrance...!
We (G. Baiano and me) have studied these species and published some results in Fungi non Delineati XII (2000).
As Nicolas pointed out, the differences between "H. confusa" and H. leucomelaena are maybe difficult to explain in a table, but after some (years of!) experience is possible to recognize them on the ground at 90% at least. The examination of the types should be supported by a strong knowledge of the species on the field... But I know it's impossible sometimes...
H. confusa, typical under Picea abies in wet places on calcareous soil, is rather common on the Alps. We collected it in hundreds many times... And the major part of the illustrations on many books sub nomen H. leucomelaena figure in fact this species (also Dahnke&Dahnke, Nico, and also Breitenbach-Kranzlin n° 27!).
I don't know how the typical (?) material of Acetabula calyx in K is. Do it is clearly indicated as type? Harmaja only believed that it was so if I remember correctly. Instead, we have examined a collection in PAD, in the Saccardo herbarium, labelled "Acetabula calyx Sac. Sp. Nov. Pat. Martio" that we believe to be the holotype. Unfortunately the apothecia were treated as leaves in drying, so they are as thin as sheets of paper! However they are most likely identical with Helvella leucomelaena.
We had the chance to collect many apothecia of Helvella leucomelaena in the sandy lowlands near the Adriatic sea, not far from the type locality of A. calyx, and we noted that many of them are somewhat "caliciform" (i.e. with a rather slender stipe and more rounded cup, than usual) but in all the other features are identical with the typical Helvella leucomelaena. We think that Saccardo named this morphological variant as A. calyx.
To explain the Boudier's and Bresadola's plates, we are persuaded that they both represent Helvella confusa. It is not so incredible that Saccardo was not 100% able to distinguish between his A. calyx-H. leucomelaena and H. confusa (not yet described!), as it continue to happen to most mycologists nowadays. So Saccardo sent these specimens to Bresadola (and Bresadola to Boudier) as A. calyx, even if they were not conspecific with H. leucomelaena.
The shape you see in Boudier's plate, Nicolas, is often seen in very hydratated apothecia of H. confusa. Note that H. confusa grows usually along the streams and somewhat completely flooded in the water or embedded in deep moss. In these conditions the cells of the flesh swell strongly so the margin unrolls and become revolute toward the stipe. We have observed this fact tenths of times. This happens also in other Helvella, as in H. aestivalis, see photo 12B in the same FND XII.
In PAD there is also a part of the Danish collection (1965) cited as main support of the description of Helvella solitaria in Dissing (1966). No doubt it represents our concept of Helvella confusa (and it was part of the material on which Harmaja's description of H. confusa was based).