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  • Under Assessment
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Elaphomyces aculeatus Vittad.

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Scientific name
Elaphomyces aculeatus
Common names
Pigget hjortetrøffel
taggig hjorttryffel
srnka ostnatá
Stachelige Hirschtrüffel
IUCN Specialist Group
Cup-fungi, Truffles and Allies
Assessment status
Preliminary Category
Proposed by
David Minter
Johan Nitare
David Minter, Mikael Jeppson
Anders Dahlberg, Vladimír Kunca, Ivona Kautmanova, Jean Berube
Comments etc.
Irmgard Krisai-Greilhuber, Andreas Gminder, Thomas Læssøe, Izabela L. Kalucka, Piotr Chachuła, Michael Krikorev

Assessment Notes


Elaphomyces aculeatus is an extremely rare hypogeous fungus forming ectomycorrhiza with hazel (Corylus), beech (Fagus), lime (Tilia) and oak (Quercus) in calcareous, broadleaved forest with long history of forest coverage. The species seems to have high requirements and a very narrow ecological niche, only occurring on “hot-spot locations”.

It is endemic to Europe, very few severely fragmented localities are known and the subpopulations are very small and confined to a rare, fragmented and threatened habitat. The major threats to the species habitat are: 1) felling and other silviculture activities replacing the original vegetation with other forest-types and 2) habitat loss caused by urban development. Despite extensive searches, the number of known sites the total number of sites is estimated to be less than 50.

The habitat of E. aculeatus has continuously been declining over last millennia and represents a habitat not formed any longer.Due to its rareness hypogeic nature, dispersal and establishment is unlikely to occur (not recorded).

The species is assessed as Critically Endangered under D due to a very small and restricted population.

Taxonomic notes

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

The hypogeous fungus Elaphomyces aculeatus is a very rare ectomycorrhizal fungi with perennial ascocarps. Only few scattered observations are made in Europe. Records from central Europe are mostly old and out of date. A finding in Denmark dates back to 1871. In old days, it was also found in Italy, Hungary, France, Switserland and the United Kingdom. In several countries it is considered extinct. The last 30 years, the hypogeous mycoflora has been intensely investigated and five records of the species are now known from Sweden.  The species appear as a relict in small, threatened and very old remnants of broadleaved deciduous habitats (ecosystems) with e.g. Corylus and Quercus. (probably with tree-continuity and living mycelia from ancient time).  Only one of the known localities is under protection. No recent disperal is known. (Johan Nitare)

Geographic range

Elaphomyces aculeatus occurs in temperate zone in Europe with records in recent years only from Sweden, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Spain. Older records exist from Denmark (one sporocarp 1871), Hungary, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom .

Population and Trends

Because trained dogs can find hypogeous fungi more easily than humans, estimates of abundance of all hypogeous species tend to be higher in Mediterranean countries where there is a tradition of using such animals. Described by MONTECCHI & SARASINI (2000) as rather uncommon in Europe. It is regarded as uncommon in Spain, and rare in the Region Emilia-Parma area of Italy (BINCOLETTO, MONTECCHI & SARASINI, 1999). It has been red-listed as extinct in Germany, endangered in Sweden and rare in Denmark.

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Hypogeous fungus forming ectomycorrhiza with deciduous trees; Corylus, Qurcus, Tilia and Fagus. The Swedish records are all from Corylus stands on calcareous, almost soils with low proportion of clay. The habitat can often be characterized as”nemoral, old wooded meadows, coppice and semi-natural broadleaved stands or old hazel groves”.

Temperate Forest


Main threat is logging and local exploitation, e.g. road construction. It is not known if it survives over growth of wooded meadows. Local extinctions is a threat as populations typically are isolated and consists of only a few individuals.

Housing & urban areasUnintentional effects: subsistence/small scale (species being assessed is not the target) [harvest]

Conservation Actions

Known localities should be managend in a traditional way.  A species Conservation Action plan for the species has been compiled in Sweden.

Site/area protectionSite/area management

Research needed

Dedicated search/monitoring of known /suitable localities to increase knowledge of current population status and distribution

Population size, distribution & trendsLife history & ecology

Use and Trade

No commercial use or trade is known.


AGERER, R. Colour Atlas of Ectomycorrhizae 1st-12th del., Einhorn-Verlag, Schwäbisch Gmünd (1987-2003) [summary available on-line at: http://www.botanik.biologie.uni-muenchen.de/botsyst/atlas.html].
AGERER, R. Descriptions of Mycorrhizae 4: 37-41 (1999).
BINCOLETTO, A., MONTECCHI, A. & SARASINI, M. Funghi ipogei rari del territorio reggiano-parmense [Rare hypogeous fungi of the Reggio Emilia-Parma area]. Pagine di Micologia 1999 (12): 26-30 (1999).
DODGE, C.W. The higher Plectascales Annales Mycologici 27: 145-184 (1929).
HAWKER, L.E. British hypogeous fungi. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B 237: 429-546, 29 figs (1954).
HAWKER, L.E. Revised annotated list of British hypogeous fungi. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 63: 67-76 (1974).
Kers, L.E. 1979. Elaphomyces aculeatus found in Sweden. Svensk Bot. Tidskr. 73: 123-126.
Knapp, A. 1952. Die europäischen Hypogaeen-Gattungen und ihre Gattungstypen. Schweiz. Zeitschr. Pilzk. 28: 81-92.
KRAIGHER, H., AL SAYEGH PETKOVŠEK, S., GREBENC, T. & SIMONČIČ, P. Types of ectomycorrhiza as pollution stress indicators: case studies in Slovenia. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 128 (1-3): 31-45 (2007).
Lange, M. 1956. Danish hypogeous macromycetes. Dansk Bot. Arkiv 16.
MINTER, D.W. Elaphomyces aculeatus. IMI Descriptions of Fungi and Bacteria 1715 (2007).
MONTECCHI, A. & SARASINI, M. Funghi Ipogei d’Europa (Trento, Italy: Associazione Micologica Bresadola): [i-vi] 714 pp. (2000).
PEGLER, D.N., SPOONER, B.M. & YOUNG, T.W.K. British Truffles a Revision of British Hypogeous Fungi (Kew, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens): [i-viii], 216 pp., 26 plates (1993).
RAITVIIR, A. & LEENURM, K. New species and new records of Ascomycetes from Estonia. Folia Cryptogamica Estonica 37: 85-92 (2000).
Rydberg, H. 2007. Åtgärdsprogram för taggig hjorttryffel 2007-2010. (Action Plan for Elaphomyces aculeatus. Naturvårdsverket, rapport 5721.
Rydberg, H. 2010. Taggig hjorttryffel, nationell inventering 2005-2009. Länsstyrelsen i Stockholms län, Rapport 2010:12 (http://www.lansstyrelsen.se/stockholm/publikationer).
Szemere, L. 1965. Die unterirdischen Pilze des Karpatenbeckens. Budapest.

See also the following internet pages:

http://www.asturnatura.com/articulos/revista/catalogohongosast.pdf (occurrence in Spain);
http://www.bfn.de/fileadmin/MDB/documents/RoteListePflanzen.pdf (red listing for Germany);
http://www.netbiologen.dk/rodliste/rodsvampe.htm (red listing in Denmark).

Country occurrence

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted