March 7, 2022
Good evening, friends,
This week we’re looking at Camillea tinctor, formerly known as hypoxylon tinctor, and lacking a common name. I’ve found this fungus a few times in Central Park and the photos are from specimens in the ramble and the north woods. C. tinctor is something you can find year-round, so it’s a good one to know during late winter/early spring when there aren’t too many charismatic megafunga to be found.
C. tinctor is an ascomycete like Daldinia from a few weeks ago, and I wrote about another fungus in the Camillea genus, Camillea punctulata, almost exactly one year ago. In the above picture, C. tinctor is growing on the fallen limb of a London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia). It is saprobic on hardwoods, and occasionally creates cankers on living sycamores so it’s no surprise I found it on a London plane (Reference 3).
The way to differentiate C. tinctor from other black masses on wood, specifically C. punctulata, is the orange discoloration of the wood below the black fertile surface of the fungus. In the below photo I used pruners, but keys are satisfactory, to reveal the bright orange wood lurking a few millimeters below the fungus. I couldn’t find information on why the fungus discolors the wood orange, but if I had to guess I’d imagine there are alpha and beta carotenes in the mycelium – the same pigments that make carrots orange.
An interesting note is that C. tinctor is primarily known as a tropical species. It can be found in the tropical Americas, Africa, and Asia – from Central America to Sierra Leone to Papua New Guinea. However, as we become more aware of this fungus, we’re seeing it more and more in the NYC area. Tom Bigelow, the former president of the NYMS, uses iNaturalist to record the northern most occurrence of the species which currently sits in Saugerties, NY – northwest of the CT/MA border.
In other fungal news, I read a gripping long-form article entitled Blood Spore: Of Murder and Mushrooms. The author is journalist/chemist Hamilton Morris, known for his show Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia on Vice, and the article features some of the mycologists I’ve mentioned in the past including Gary Lincoff and Paul Stamets. It reads like a Hollywood script and you can check it out here.
I counted over 300 Canada geese in four large flying V’s following the Hudson River north today,
2) British Mycological Society. Symposium. Aspects of Tropical Mycology : Symposium of the British Mycological Society Held at the University of Liverpool, April 1992. Cambridge England ; New York, Ny, Usa, Published For The British Mycological Society By Cambridge University Press, 1993.