Pleurocybella porrigens

A tip of the hat to Jim Cornish@Flickr for sharing today’s photograph from last autumn in Newfoundland and Labrador (tops on my list of places yet to visit in North America).

Jim’s photograph perfectly illustrates the English common name for this species of temperate forests in the northern hemisphere: angel wings. In the written accompaniment to his photograph on Flickr, Jim also explains the scientific name: “pleur meaning ‘on the side’ a reference to the stalk being on the side of the cap, cybella meaning ‘small cap’ and porrigens meaning ‘sticking out'”.

Pleurocybella porrigens is a wood-decay fungus associated with conifers (particularly Tsuga, the hemlocks), and more specifically, a white-rot fungus (in general, these digest lignin in wood and leave cellulose behind, though they can also digest both — but lignin is less abundant, so it can give the appearance of leaving cellulose behind).

Important for some BPotD readers whenever a fungus is featured is the question of whether it is edible or not. For many years, the answer would have been “yes, but not particularly tasty”. However, see: Savuc, P and Danel, V. 2006. New Syndromes in Mushroom Poisoning. Toxicological Reviews. 25(3):199-209. In this paper, the authors describe that in Japan a “convulsive encephalopathy outbreak was reported in patients with history of chronic renal failure” after ingestion of Pleurocybella porrigens (in Japan: sugihiratake). The question as to what caused the outbreak seems to have been answered: see Wakimoto, T et al. 2011. Proof of the Existence of an Unstable Amino Acid: Pleurocybellaziridine in Pleurocybella porrigens. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 50(5) 1168. However, the why of the outbreak of poisonings remains unknown. Michael W. Beug explores that question in Pleurocybella porrigens toxin unmasked?, an article in McIlvainea: Journal of American Amateur Mycology.

Pleurocybella porrigens

7 responses to “Pleurocybella porrigens”

  1. iris lefleur

    How interesting the maladies this produced. Is this a new finding?
    I wonder with all the toxins floating in the air if fungus absorbs them, and in so doing changes the possible toxins in the mushrooms.
    I am going to research this outbreak to answer more questions. Like were they cooked properly, what were they eaten with, what is the effect on the kidneys without an underlying problem.
    I am only brave enough to pick two fungi that I know, morels, in season now in Vermont, and chantrelles, a fall delicacy.I do see a lot of european immigrants picking mushrooms on the golf course, but I never have.

  2. wendy

    What about the toxicity of the host tree having some input? (e.g.Taxus)

  3. elizabeth a airhart

    beautiful beautiful photo of the day the lighting is
    just so fine –thank you for the write up

  4. T. Ohno

    We found the compound which was now named aa pleurocybellaziridine.
    The molecule is very stable in higher pH than 8 even in boiling water.
    In lower than pH 7 it is unstable in the boiling water.
    I think it is necessary to boil at least 10-15 minutes for eating the mushroom.

  5. h bevers

    PLEASE go back to original format !!!

  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Thank you, T. Ohno, for adding that.
    h bevers — not likely to happen, as part of thereason for the redesign was to get the site to conform with the University of British Columbia Common Look and Feel requirements for its web sites.

  7. T.Ohno

    Thank you very much for the comments.
    Sorry, I can not correctly understand what the comments mean. Please teach me about it again.
    I am a japanese. In Japan, my web page is written in English .
    Can you display the images with jpg format of may web page ?
    Now, the aziridine-derivateve is stable in the water of lower than PH 7 and the room temperature, and stable even in pH 2 ( human stomach) at a human body temperature.

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