Clavaria Fr.   

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales

British distribution: Several species, occasional to frequent throughout Britain.
World distribution: Widespread.

Rather primitive basidiomycetes with simple, club-shaped, brittle and often hollow fruitbodies, rarely branched, though now considered to be allied to the true toadstools and placed in the order Agaricales. Microscopically the genus is defined, in part, by the lack of clamp-connections in the tramal tissues, though they may be present in the hymenium. There is usually a clearly defined stalk, above which is the fertile portion. The hymenium is unprotected, and any increase of surface area is accomplished by branching of the whole fruitbody rather than by the development of gills, tubes or spines as seen in most of the larger basidiomycetes. Colours of different species vary from white, through shades of cream and yellow to pink, purple, brown, grey or black.

Species are predominantly terrestrial, typically in grassland or on rich, often alluvial, woodland soils. Some are lignicolous and an unnamed species (in Australia) was reported as mycorrhizal with members of the heather family (Ericaceae) (Seviour, et al., 1973). There is a suspicion that the British C. argillacea is also mycorrhizal, with heather (Calluna vulgaris), but this association is yet to be proved. (?)

Clavaria is one of the 'clavarioid' genera used in assessment of 'Waxcap grasslands'.

Clavaria acuta

Clavaria acuta
(= C. falcata)
A species of rich woodland and unimproved grassland on fertile soils. The fruitbodies are white and unbranched.

Photographed specimen from the Cleghorn Glen National Nature Reserve, Lanark, 1985. It is relatively common in the Clyde Valley woodlands. The form with many or all spores conspicuously spiny, "C. asterospora", seems equally frequent.

Clavaria rosea

Clavaria rosea
A rare and attractive species of unimproved grassland, probably restricted to base-rich soils. The fruitbodies are bright to purplish pink and unbranched, though often clustered.

Photographed near Kindrogan, Perthshire, 1986.

Clavaria rosea

Clavaria zollingeri
Clavaria zollingeri, another rare and attractive species of unimproved grassland, probably an indicator of the higher-grade waxcap grasslands. The fruitbodies are pink or purplish-pink and much branched. Photographed in upland turf on limestone in Glen Tilt, Perthshire, 1987.

Seviour, R.J., Willing, R.R., & Chilvers, G.A., (1973), Basidiocarps associated with ericoid mycorrhizas. New Phytologist 72: 381-385.

Popular field guides usually include one or more representative species of the genus. A summary of key literature (for the family Clavariaceae) is given in P.M. Kirk et al. (2001), Dictionary of the Fungi, 9th ed., CAB International, Wallingford.

© A.J. Silverside
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